Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is IT?

I have a good friend graduating from college in two months. I'll never forget that feeling of beginning a whole new phase of life as an adult. Some of you remember the agony and ecstasy of those weeks leading up to college graduation, not knowing if you were going to be in your current town or across the country. It's an intense sense of awe and wonder as you struggle with options, dreams and possibilities. My heart jumped for joy as I watched her struggle with the words to describe what God was doing in her soul. I knew that, although it was a moment of frustration laced with anticipation, it was also a significant moment in the life of a child of God! Oh, the possiblities of one who is willing to sell out completely for the sake of excellence and abandon to the work of God on planet Earth.

I want to take a moment to share some wisdom and experience concerning the rest of your days. This will prove helpful for anyone asking questions such as my friend, but will be especially relevant to those of you who have not quite settled into God's absolute best for future. God has tremendous possiblities for you, no matter where you are in a journey of faith or circumstances. He wants to give you a future, not just worth living, but worth every ounce of energy you spend developing youself into a person who experiences abundant life!

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you aught to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive."

The first insight I'd like to share with you concerning the rest of you life is that you must know your ONE THING.

This can be very tricky for someone 22 years old (or in my case I was 25) just getting out of college. Experience helps direct you along your preferred future and if experience is lacking, the direction can seem fuzzy. Here is some things that might help you determine the ONE THING for which you were born to do. As you read this, remember that your blueprints look different than any other set of blueprints of any other person on the planet and throughout history. You are awe-inspiringly unique (Psalm 139:13-14).

  • Try not to focus on a location. Your ONE THING is often not a city or place.
  • Try not to focus on a specific career. In our career-oriented society we can get distracted from our one thing by the percieved urgency of beginning a pursuit.
  • Try not to focus on a person or people. From my experience, your ONE THING must be your ONE THING no matter with whom you may end up sharing it.
  • Try to focus on the thing that resides deep inside your heart and which, when tapped into, screams out, "You have got to release me because I am the thing you were born to do."

Now, I do know people who have discovered their ONE THING and it appears to be a location, a career, or a people. For example, one of my co-workers is certain that he was born to spend his entire career at one particular church. I also have a friend who was born with the capacity and passion to effectively teach children in the classroom. But still, when you dig deeper you'll find that my first friend was really born to shepherd a group of people over a long period of time. That's what he'd do if he had uneneding resources and absolutely no barriers. It just happens that this passion expresses itself in this particular church. My second friend, upon deeper investigation, loves children so much that his heart bursts at the idea of investing his entire life in their emotional health. It just happens to make its way out of him in a classroom. Don't get caught up in the details! Just work hard at this until you can define the ONE THING.

Secondly, once you know your ONE THING go to whatever lengths it takes to develop it until excellence is the only standard by which you can live.

Oftentimes, you may not have the opportunity to invest every minute of your life into actually doing your ONE THING. However, God has appointed you as responsible to invest in and grow in areas of your life that will help you to express that passion with excellence and effectiveness. I am utterly convinced as I've watched these principles play out in the lives of people over the past few years that as we invest in our passion apart from any tangilble rewards or immediate benefits, God will abundantly multiply our talents and gifts (Matthew 25:14-30). I am also sure that as we are faithful He will lead us into opportunities that would have never been available had we not invested that time and energy into growth. Here are a few practical steps you can take to invest in growth.

  • Read, Read, Read! Never underestimate the value of someone else's experience.
  • Spend as much time as possible with leaders that share your passions and gifts.

  • Invest in your passion wherever you can and at whatever level you can at any time you can!

  • While you wait and pray for opportunities, use the time wisely to grow in your passions and gifts.

Maybe you are not sure if you've been investing wisely in your ONE THING. AW Tozer gave us seven indicators of what we invest in most. Below you will see this list. Once you're sure you know what it is, honestly evaluate your investment using these indicators.

Rules for Self Discovery

1. What we want most

2. What we think about most

3. How we use our money

4. What we do with our leisure time

5. The company we enjoy

6. Who and what we admire

7. What we laugh at

A final thought concerning the rest of your life: along the journey you will have to pay a price in order to purchase the reward of a life well lived.

The late great singer/songwriter Rich Mullins said, "So go out and live real good and I promise you'll get beat up real bad. But, in a little while after you're dead, you'll be rotted away anyway. It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn't live."

The road to fulfillment in life is not easy, as a matter of fact, it can be quite difficult. Our fulfillment is not about always doing easy things, it's about always doing the RIGHT THINGS. You may have battle scars, I know I do. You may experience some relational strife, I know I have. You may come out on the other side a little beat up, I know I am. But, if you stay faithful and follow God's work in your heart, you WILL find fulfillment and peace that may not be logical, tangible or even explainable. (Phil. 4:7 MSG) That's when you will find out that "what lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Stay the course!

"The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (Frederick Buechner)

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (Howard Thurman)

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