Sunday morning. I woke this morning with a need to be inspired. What to do with that? I puttered around for awhile not really gaining any clarity about what to put into my head. I considered and rejected going to church because I felt like I needed to really look inside myself. Before any of you react to that statement, I know that personal introspection and conviction does happen at church routinely, but I felt very strongly there was a message “out there” for me that was going to come from somewhere else.
I went online and started looking for podcasts of Christian leaders from whom I have previously been inspired. I finally stumbled across Christine Caine (pastor, activist, evangelist, founder of Propel, and international speaker) interviewing Sheryl Brady (author of the book You Have It In You! Empowered To Do The Impossible). I almost didn’t watch. I find Christine Caine amazing, inspiring, and somebody I want to emulate, but the woman also scares the daylights out of me. She is an incredible leader who encourages others to their full potential, a tireless fighter against sex slave trafficking, and an overall bundle of energy. She does BIG things. And sometimes watching other people do big things makes me feel very small. But I digress; this post isn’t intended to highlight my own insecurities.
Christine and Sheryl discussed purpose. The basic premise of their conversation is that it doesn’t matter how much any of us have messed up or how much time we have squandered living selfishly and passing up opportunities to serve and be useful. No matter where we find ourselves today, God can take every bit of our lives, including the ugly, wish-I-hadn’t-ever-made-those-choices regrets, and recreate them into a beautiful purposefulness. (Synopsis mine.)
This is the message meant for me today because I struggle to define purpose for myself. Any number of times I have listened to women talk about how grateful they are they have been given a purpose in life. I have difficulty identifying with that statement. First, let me be clear that I like my life. A lot. There are good things happening in and around me and I know I’ve made positive contributions to others. That just doesn’t feel the same as intentional purpose. Maybe because I tend to think of purpose as a single-minded goal. And I can’t figure out one thing I’m doing that well. There you have it.
I often say about myself I can’t see the forest for the trees. It is no different when it comes to understanding the purpose of my life. I know my strengths and name them as leadership, writing, listening, injecting humor (sometimes more often than I should), and holding a heart for those who are hurting. I’ve sometimes come close to defining my purpose as one or several of those things.What I realized this morning is that purpose is much bigger than a single attribute or going in one direction. My mistake has been in compartmentalizing purpose. It isn’t one thing–at least not for me. It has to be bigger than any job, hobby, or talent. Purpose for me must be an all-encompassing way of life that results in a positive impact to whomever I may touch.
Webster’s defines purpose as “The reason why something is done or used; the aim or goal of a person.” Starting today I’m using a different/better definition: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor 4:7 NIV) You can argue this passage doesn’t necessarily indicate purpose, but I challenge that thought. Hear me out. This verse of scripture is a promise that shows I already have inside of me more than I ever knew I was equipped to do. We are, all of us, equipped for our purposes whether we see it or not. Currently there are flashes of brilliance in my life where that treasure is occasionally glimpsed, but my purpose needs to be working toward having it shine awesomely. Always.