Living Your Purpose

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Could the word scattered define your life? Most of us feel as though we are pulled a gazillion different directions without a meaningful focus or a purposeful plan. How can we regroup and get back on the a road that leads us toward living out our purpose?  Let’s examine a few simple questions to help you develop a personal mission statement. Prayerfully ponder the following:

  • What gifts and talents has God given me? What fills my heart with joy?
  • Who are the people who can benefit or be blessed from my gifts?
  • How can I use my gifts to influence or affect the people around me?

Take some time to answer these questions and then begin to use the answers to create a mission statement.

The What – As you look at your gifts, talents and passions choose one or two verbs that describe what you do best. Think about the spiritual gifts God has given you (reflect on Romans 12) and consider what unique ways God has made you. You could use verbs such as: teach, inspire, help, serve, give, build, restore, share. For me, my verb is “encourage.” So my mission statement starts with:

My mission is to encourage…

The Who  –  Think about who you want to reach with your “What.” Could it be women across the nation? Could it be people who are caregivers? Or perhaps your desire is to help the hurting or the lost. Do you want to reach tens of thousands of people or do you want to touch a significant few? Examine your heart’s desire and add your descriptive “Who” phrase to the statement. For me, I wrote:

My mission is to encourage men and women around the world…

The How – Now it is time to consider the effect that you want to have on the people you reach. This may develop or change over time, but you can also paint a picture with some broad brush strokes of how you want to influence or help others. Maybe your How is: to strengthen people’s lives physically, to help people emotionally, to develop programs, to give financially, to encourage spiritual growth. Add this final piece to your mission statement. Here’s mine:

My mission is to encourage men and women around the world

to pursue their God-given passion

and use their gifts and talents in a positive and productive way.

 

Now take a moment to write your statement:

 

When we ponder our purpose, we live with a clearer direction of what to are able to do, as well as what we probably should not do. Without a focus, we tend to be distracted by every opportunity or activity that comes along our path. Ultimately, each of our greater purpose on this earth is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. My hope is that you will find your true joy and fulfillment in relationship with Him and following the direction He leads you.

Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash

We Can Make Our Plans, But…

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Breaking his foot on the first day of our Italian vacation was not exactly what my husband had planned for our trip. We spent our first day in Florence in the hospital ER.  Fun! Normally on a trip like this, we would be walking around the city, taking pictures of Renaissance chapels and sculptures, but instead we were waiting for hours for a picture of my husband’s foot.

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After three hours of thumbing through old Italian magazines in the waiting room while Curt was waiting in another room for his X-rays, I finally decided to explore the hospital. I found a spot to sit outside and enjoy the Italian sunshine. As I soaked up some rays, I happened to notice a couple of tourists who looked like they were on a hunt for a hidden treasure.

I watched them walk through a small, inconspicuous wooden door behind me. Hmmm….where were they going? I just had to find out and see what they were up to.  So, like Alice chasing the white rabbit, I followed the tourist through the little door  – and to my surprise I walked into a magnificent 15th century chapel. Inside the hospital! Who knew? I was truly taken by the beauty and reverence of this sacred place. For me, it was a bright spot on our less-than-spectacular day.

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Although our trip didn’t start off on the right foot (no pun intended), we weathered the twists and turns and persevered. And we learned to discover the beauty along the way. Italian lesson number one: we can make our plans, but then we must be willing to adjust and find the simple joys in Plan B. And if you ever find yourself in the ER in the middle of Florence, check out the chapel behind the wooden door!

 

Bounce Back

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When C. S. Lewis was fifty years old he debated a British scholar, Elizabeth Anscombe. Lewis, the brilliant former-atheist-turned-Christian lost the debate and some say he felt like a failure. He was in low spirits and “deeply disturbed” by his loss, but it was this set back that set him in a new direction. He determined to communicate Christianity through faith rather than reason. Not long after the debate, Lewis penned his block-buster series The Chronicles of Narnia between ages 52 and 58. Lewis’s legacy continues today, as a powerful influence in our culture for Christ.  His frustration was the catalyst to his success. His loss was what God used to teach him, turn him and strengthen him.

 

How do you handle setbacks? Possibly the greatest lesson any of us can learn is discovered in the classroom of brokenness. It is there that we move from self-reliance to a God-reliance as we humbly seek His direction and help. Ultimately, we can learn to thank God for our flaws and failures, for through them He expands our understanding and teaches us new and marvelous truths. He forgives, redeems and resurrects. He never leaves us, even when we feel alone.

Whenever we face disappointments, we can choose to live in the defeat of our mistakes, continually beating ourselves up for what we could have done or should have done. Or we can choose to move forward, growing and learning from our mess ups. It’s a choice we choose and a perspective we pick. When we have a “Bounce Back” attitude, we can look beyond our mishaps and setbacks and realize that God can use them for good.

His grace is bigger than our mistakes. His love is greater than our failures. His plan is higher than our setbacks. Let’s not wallow in our mess-ups, rather let’s bounce back with determination. May our challenges strengthen us, teach us and turn us into better people.

 

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

 

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Five Ways to Boost Your Confidence

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How many times have you said no to something simply because you lacked the confidence to do it? Granted, we don’t need to say yes to every crazy opportunity that presents itself, but there are times when we ought to step forward and have a little faith in our own abilities. In fact, that’s what the word confidence means – with faith. So how do we increase our belief in our own abilities? Let’s consider five ways:

Try New Things – You never know until you try. Your belief in yourself grows when you try something new and grow from the experience. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – they happen. What is important is that you step forward in courage and face the fear of the unknown.

Grow from Every Blunder – Instead of beating yourself up and thinking of yourself as a failure, use every mistake as a growth opportunity. Allow errors to make you smarter and stronger. Most success stories are built on the foundation of lessons learned from mistakes.

Build on Your Strengths – What are you good at? Take stock of the things you do well and continue to strengthen those areas of your life. As we learn, grow and build in our areas of giftedness, we continue to get better and better at what we do and of course our self-confidence grows as a result.

Manage Around Your Weaknesses – Just as each of us have areas of strength, we also have a few weak spots. Don’t let them get you down, rather learn to work around them. Figure out ways to delegate or get the help you need so that your limitations don’t stifle you or impair you from doing what you do best.

Stop Comparing with Others – It never helps to think of yourself in relation to other people. Comparisons only breed pride or poor self-esteem. Be thankful for the unique way that God has created you, and use your gifts to serve and help others.

Ultimately our confidence is built on a belief system. If we believe that a loving God designed us, formed us and created us for a purpose, then we can walk in confidence knowing that He has a plan for our lives. We can also have the assurance that we do not walk alone. His Spirit leads us and guides us each step of the way as we look to Him for wisdom, strength and hope.

Where do you lack confidence? Ask God to help you face your fears. And remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

For more on Confidence check out my book, A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

The Classroom of Peace

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Sitting by a still pond, or relaxing by a lazy river offers a calm and peaceful surrounding to be sure, but these are not the places that God uses to teach us peace.  If we are going to learn what true peace is like, then our classroom will most likely be in the midst of troubles, turmoil and challenges.  Personally, I would love to go through life learning only happy lessons from easy instructors, but that’s not where the best lessons are learned.  Thinking back to schooldays, easy classes were nice, but it was the challenging classes that strengthened me and lifted me to new heights of knowledge and understanding.

The troubles in our lives may lead us to question God.  “Don’t you want me to have peace?  Why do you allow my life to be so difficult?”  I’m sure many of the early Christians felt this way as they faced persecution of all types.  James wrote to encourage them saying, “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.  Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do.  Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need.”

In a troubled marriage, God can develop a peace that passes all understanding.  When a child goes astray, He is able to give us peace.  His peace is available in the midst of cancer, or MS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Peace is barely recognizable in calm surroundings, but it shines brightly in our trials and difficulties.  That’s how we know the peace is from Him and way beyond us. Jesus said, “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Father, our hearts are prone to worry and fear, but you are the God of peace. Thank you that just as you calmed the restless sea, you can calm our heart and mind. Father we trust you with the details of our life, we look to you for joy and peace to fill our soul. We love you Lord. Thank you for your great love for us and the way you work in our lives beyond what we can imagine. 

 

Photo by Óscar Dejean on Unsplash