I'm really excited about the new Boundless Answers feature. I enjoy reading the new columns every Thursday, and now something that addresses the issues facing young men such as myself only increases my anticipation. Here's my question: How do I find out what God wants me to do with my life?
Thanks for the kind words about our new Boundless Answers feature, and for asking a question that gets right to the heart of the matter. How many times have we all wondered what God wants us to do with our life, and secretly wished for a burning bush or a Balaam's donkey?
There are three parts to answering your question, and you might visualize them as three levels of a triangle. At the bottom, the foundation is this: generally, what does God want from every person? Moving up one level, and more specifically, what does God uniquely want from males (at least in your case)? And at the top, and very specifically, what does God want from you as an individual? This top level is like your fingerprint, something specific to you an individual, a person uniquely crafted and gifted by God to perform meaningful tasks of service to Him and to others.
You must wrestle with all three of these. Skipping one or two, or making incorrect assumptions about any of them, will have impact on the others because they're all interrelated.
In this entry I'll address the foundation, and in subsequent entries I'll tackle God's call for men generally and explore a few tips for discovering your unique giftings as an individual.
The foundation of your triangle, like the foundation of a building, is the most important. If you build on the wrong premise, the other levels will be in constant stress. Everything flows through this level.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God first and foremost wants us to know Him, to have a relationship with Him, to bring glory to Him by the way we live our lives, by how we relate to Him and others, summed up best in this Scripture passage: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt. 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31).
As Rick Warren famously said in his multi-zillion selling book The Purpose Driven Life, "It's not about you." Life is about God. God is the Creator of all, and all of creation, including me and you, exists to bring Him glory. This flies in the face of pretty much every message communicated to us since birth (even sometimes within Christian circles), but it is, in fact, the absolute bottom-line of reality. Believing and living otherwise is a never-ending, empty uphill battle.
Parenthetically let me add this. Before we dismiss God as an insecure egomaniac, let's quickly remember that He became one of us, entered into our suffering, and gave His life so that we could experience the primary purpose of our existence — to know Him. He defined Love by His actions. He did not create then abandon. He created and stayed and acted. He loved to the point of death and secured a path for our ultimate fulfillment: eternity with Him.
So, we start with God, not us. If you are making decisions based primarily on what makes "me" happy, then you have your priorities backwards and you will stumble at every turn. God first, then you. That's the order laid out by Christ in the paradoxical Matthew 10:39, "If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me" (paraphrased in The Message).
In the same way that a hiker must orient himself to true north before he can begin his journey, so we must orient (and continue re-orienting) ourselves to the absolute truth that life is not to be driven by what makes us happy, but by what brings God glory. That is life's "true north." Only by doing so will we ever begin to experience the fulfillment and adventure of life. So, the better way to ask your question is this, "How could I live my life in such a way that brings God the most glory?" Now we're asking the right question, and we'll explore more answers next time.
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