How do I find out what God wants me to do with my life?
As I said in my first entry, 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 as an individual, a person uniquely crafted and gifted by God to perform meaningful tasks of service to Him and to others.
In my first entry I addressed the foundation, God's call for all people; in my second entry I discussed a few basics on what God wants from males, and now in my third and final entry let's explore a few tips for discovering your unique giftings as an individual.
I have to be cautious when talking about a person's God-given, unique design, especially in this era of specialization. The purpose is not to paint you into a corner or give you reasons for why you can't or shouldn't do a certain job or task. The purpose is to help you become a better servant — of Christ and others. In other words, don't use this to say, "Well, God hasn't gifted me to take out the trash!"
When Jesus' disciples became indignant because they thought Jesus had favored two brothers for "promotion," He clarified the underlying principle for greatness in the Kingdom of God: "... whoever wants to be great, must become a servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served" (Matt. 20:26-28, paraphrased in The Message). Yes, you are unique in your design, but your design is for service, so first and foremost your attitude must be that of service, no matter what the task.
With service as your foundation, you can begin to explore your God-given gift of unique talents and abilities. You didn't earn nor do you deserve these talents. God has endowed you with them. Some of these "grace gifts" are crafted by God at conception (natural abilities) — you're born with them (Psalm 139:13-16) — while others are given by God at your conversion (spiritual gifts) when you become a believer in Christ (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 2:10, 4:11-12). The spiritual gifts enrich and empower the natural gifts that God has given you.
Discovering these gifts can be a bit of an art form. Of course, experience is one of the best indicators. As you look back over your life, what are the things that have energized you, tasks or activities that make you "come alive"? Alternatively, what are the things that have drained the life out of you? Are there any underlying themes that rise to the surface? The key is finding out what is it about you, and what is it about those tasks and activities, that make for the connection or disconnection. Your answers to those questions will help you begin to recognize some general ideas about your design.
Besides evaluating your own experiences, another way to get an indication of your unique design is by interviewing people who know you best — your family and friends and people you've worked alongside. Ask them what they think your strengths are and what gifts they observe in your life. Many times people see us differently than we see ourselves, and you might be surprised by what you find out.
Finally, there are a number of tools and personality profiles available that apply more of a science to discovering your gifts. These usually have you respond to a list of questions and different scenarios in an effort to narrow down your strengths. One I've recently used and can recommend is the Your Unique Design profile. It's Christian-based and available on-line for a fee. It lists five personality categories that people generally fall into, and helps you measure which combination of those five make up your unique design. Another widely used tool is DISC, which is not Christian-based but very thorough in its analysis. If you use a tool like these, I encourage you to make sure you have someone who is trained to help explain and walk you through the process of that specific tool. (These are given as examples and in no way are an endorsement from Boundless or Focus on the Family).
Remember, discovering your unique design is a lifelong process. The more you do, the more experiences you have, the more you know what energizes and de-energizes you. Don't let any of this put you into a box. Things change. You grow and mature. God equips you for a certain task, and that task is completed, and you move on to another one.
Now, let me balance all of this advice with one more thought. Scripture is full of stories of people called by God for certain tasks; people who, to those looking on from the outside, had little talent or skill for what they were being asked to do. Consider Moses, who was called to lead the nation of Israel but was such a poor communicator he needed Aaron as a spokesperson. Consider the apostles, who were called to evangelize the world but whose only apparent skill was fishing. The Bible recounts story after story of personal triumph in view of what appeared to be ill-equipped servants.
The key to each fulfillment of calling was a willingness to say "yes," and a trust in Him who calls. Maybe people recognize your skills, and maybe they don't. The most important thing is that God knows what you are capable of, and will equip you for the task. All you have to do is take that first step of faith. Stay open to His direction and re-direction, and He will take you on an adventure that satisfies your unique design and surpasses your wildest dreams.
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