For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them - Ephesians 2:10 ESV
All of us know that we created by our Heavenly Father to accomplish a specific purpose here on earth. We all have unique talents that were given to us that need to be used to glorify our Father.
I, after a number of frustrating attempts, I have starting walking in that path of my God given purpose (I will admit that the path is a little rocky at times). Here are the 3 benefits that I have realized in walking in the path of my God given purpose.
1. Your relationships become stronger
I have found that when I am on the path to fulfilling my purpose here on earth, my relationship with God is stronger and effective. I am more attuned to listening to what He has to say to me and I am more aware of His presence.
Secondly, my relationship with my family, church and friends has grown more powerful. When you are operating with purpose, you are more able to withstand the schemes of the evil one designed to negatively impact your relationships. Although there will still be instances in which you will get frustrated with others in your life, I have found that I'm better equipped to handle these situations.
2. You become healthier
No, you won't be able to jump right in and participate in a Cross fit class (there may be some of you that can. If so, my hat's off to you). I have found that my frame of mind has become sharper and I am able to eliminate mental obstacles that would have normally paralyzed me in the past.
The improvement of my mental fitness has also had a positive effect on my physical health. My level of stress has decreased since I have identified and start operating in my God given purpose. My number of stress related headaches, aches and pains have become fewer in number. My workouts have also increase in intensity as well (I think the wife likes that!) since I want to ensure that I have the energy level to accomplish the purpose that God has designed for me.
3. You become a role model for others
When you are operating on the path of accomplishing your purpose, people will notice a difference about you. The way that you carry yourself and reflect the light that should be in each of us is on display. You become a walking testimony of what God can do. This provides you with an opportunity to share with others the change that you have experienced as a result of being in tune with your talents and using them for God's glory.
For those of you that are walking along the path of God's purpose, what benefits have you noticed in your life? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted - Job 42:2 ESV
On February 1, 1960 four young black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (now known as North Carolina A & T State University) walked into a Woolworth's in downtown Greensboro, NC.
At this time, they were denied service because the official policy was to refuse service to anyone except whites. These four students- Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil sat quietly at the lunch counter even though they were not served.
The police were called, but did not take any action since the four did not provoke anyone during their protest. The four students stayed at the counter for the entire day until the store closed.
The students, now known as the Greensboro 4, returned the next day with even more students that they had recruited from local colleges. Despite the increased number of participants, Woolworth stated that they would maintain their segregated policy.
By February 5th, approximately 300 students had joined in the protest at Woolworth's. This action paralyzed the business of Woolworth's along with those of other local businesses. In order to keep the protest going, the students organized their schedules so that someone would always be there to occupy the counter.
The momentum generated by the Greensboro 4 spread to 55 cities in 13 states. As a result of their efforts, many dining facilities across the South started integrating by the summer of 1960.
The success of the movement was rooted in the fact that the students persisted in their efforts until they reached their goal. They had a purpose and focused on attaining it.
Men, what is it in our lives are we called to do? What is our God given purpose that we are called to fulfill? If you have a purpose that God has called you to do, rest assured that it will happen. How do I know? Let's look at what Job experienced.
Job knew that God, with his unlimited power, knowledge and dominion provides man with all that he needs to accomplish His will. Job knew of God's power beforehand, but could attest to this power even more after his experiences.
My brothers, this power is available to you as well. I think of times that I was truly convinced of what my purpose was, but shrank from the challenge because of my perceived inability to accomplish it. It was only when I realized where my true source of power originated from, was I able to start moving toward my purpose.
It's not easy to maintain the focus of accomplishing your purpose. I admittedly veer off of the path to living out my purpose from time to time. It is during these times, that I have to recalibrate and tap into the power that God provides for you to persevere.
Like the Greensboro 4, you have the ability to focus your efforts on a worthwhile purpose and make lasting change.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are a number of you reading this that are sitting on the sidelines. You possess the ability to make positive change in this world if you start living out your purpose.
Have you identified your purpose? If so, are you living it out? If not, what's keeping you from doing so? Please engage in the conversation by commenting below.
If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment - Job 36:11 NIV
We recently went on a vacation to New Orleans (if you haven't been, I highly recommend it!). During our time there, we sampled some of the finest cuisine New Orleans had to offer.
One of our favorite visits was to District Donuts (we went twice). On an average day, they offer a selection of simple, fancy and extra fancy donuts to choose from. As I sat there and enjoyed my fancy donuts, I remembered a question that one of my sons asked me when he was smaller about donuts.
"Why do they have a hole in the middle?" I didn't have an answer beyond that's how they've always been made.
Reflecting back on that question led me to ponder other questions that day in the shop. Why do a majority of men's lives resemble that of a donut? Why do we have a hole in the middle of our lives that can't be filled? Why do we try to fill it with things of this world?
I will admit that there are times that I am been a "doughnut" man as well. I have tried to fill that emptiness in my life with temporal things that won't satisfy. Some of them include: pursuit of money, sex and power. None of these things filled the hole.
What can be done to adequately fill that void in our life? For me, the answer was giving myself over to God and serving Him. What does this mean?
Giving yourself over to serving and obeying God means becoming obedient to His will. Once you align your life with His will, you find yourself operating according to the purpose that you were designed for. Once you live your life with purpose, the hole in the middle slowly fills.
As Elihu noted in today's scripture, God fills men's heart with contentment when they seek and serve Him. Whatever their circumstances, if a man's heart is dedicated to our Father, he becomes spiritually filled.
Men, when that happens, you start to live a life that provides the blueprint for those in your circle of influence to follow. You began to participate in what I call "generational living." Generational living has the ability to positively impact future generations.
How do you start becoming obedient? It's an evolving process. It begins when you realize that you have a void in your life that you have been trying to fill with worldly things. Once you come to that realization, you can start with determining God's will for your life.
This step requires time apart where you place yourself in position to listen to His voice. That can come from God directly speaking to you or through someone else. Once that happens, you start on the path to living that life God has called us to live.
There are times that you are going to deviate from that path. When that happens, it is of great benefit to have an accountability partner to communicate with. This, in addition to continued study of scripture, will assist in the discipline of obeying and serving God.
Don't let trying to fill that hole in the middle with worldly things prevent you from a gratifying relationship with your Father. Fill that void by obeying and serving Him.
How have you been trying to fill the void in your life? Engage in the conversation by placing your comment below. I would love to hear from you.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing - James 1:22-25 ESV
My sons have now experienced the rite of passage that comes with going to the barbershop. They now enjoy going to get their hair cut at the shop that a friend of mine recommended (thanks Jay!). The actions of my youngest son Connor in regard to the barbershop experience has really surprised me.
Since Connor is naturally shy, I initially had to tell the barber how to cut his hair. He went from having me tell the barber how his hair should be cut to him providing the instructions himself. My amazement at his transformation doesn’t stop there. It’s after the haircut that Connor did something that I was able to learn from.
After his hair has been cut, Connor will come home and look at himself in the mirror. He will look at his haircut from every angle and comb it until he is satisfied with the result. He will repeat this ritual every morning until it’s time for his next haircut.
Connor looks into the mirror and works on his hair until it looks perfect. He will not leave that mirror until his job is done. Men, I think that all of us can learn a lesson from Connor and his daily hair ritual. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and examine who we are and what God has called us to do. We are not to abandon the pursuit of our purpose until it has come to fruition.
Like scripture warns us, we are not to walk away from the mirror and forget what we look like. In essence, we are not to forget our mission or purpose. All too often, we are hearers of the word and not doers. Even though God has spoken to us on a number of occasions, we shrink from the task He has assigned us. Let us lean into the assignment that God has given us and be encouraged.
My youngest has provided a blueprint that we can all learn from in regard to knowing and following through on our Master’s will. Connor progressed from not communicating to his barber to telling him how he wanted his hair cut. You can have the same progression as well when it comes to being a doer.
Embrace your assignment (in Connor’s case it was making sure his hair looked good) and stay in front of the mirror until it’s done. Persevere and use the talents and skill sets that our Father has provided for use to reflect His glory. Become a doer, not just a hearer.
But the Lord told Samuel, “Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart.”-1 Samuel 16:7 GW
Recently, we were attending a swim meet for my 2 sons Trey and Connor. My wife and I have a great time trying to predict who will win some of the other heats that my sons are not a part of (I always want to pick one of my sons). In evaluating my pick, a majority of the time I will use the “eye” test in making my predictions of the winner.
In one particular heat, I noticed a young man in lane 3. He was doing all the right things as far as warming up and stretching. The primary thing that I noticed was his build. He had the broad shoulders and the six pack to match. I leaned over to Abbey and said “there is your winner of this heat. Just look at him, he is bigger and stronger looking than everyone else.”
The horn sounded and they were off. My prohibitive favorite fell behind in the first 25 meters. I looked at Abbey and said that my guy will be ok. He can make up the ground once he decides to kick it into another gear. With his build, he obviously had the strength and stamina to come back. At 75 meters, I came to the realization that not only wasn’t he going to win, he was going to lose to the guy that would have been my last choice as a favorite.
After that race was over (my guy didn’t finish in the top 4 by the way), I sat back and thought of how I fallen prey to looking at the outward appearance of the person as opposed to looking within. The young man that won that race on that particular day had more heart that the one that passed the eye test. He wanted to win more than the competition. That was the one thing that was unseen to the human eye.
I know that there are a number of you reading this that have been guilty just like me when I predicted my winner for that race. We looked at the appearance of an individual (it could be you) and made a prediction on whether or not they would be able to accomplish their goals. Why do we look at ourselves on a surface level and use that as a baseline in determining our chances for success?
As the scripture above states, God looks into the heart. Humans look at the outward appearance and make their determination on the "eye" test. Our omniscient Father knows precisely the things to look for. God has predestined all of us for a purpose during our time here on earth. Unfortunately, there are those of us that will not realize that divine purpose. We have looked at ourselves in the mirror and decided because we didn't look a certain way, we are incapable of doing God's work.
My brothers, let's not short circuit our opportunity to use the unique talents that our God has endowed us with. Let us not form conclusions based on the things that we see. Resolve to look deeper and examine the things that are not present to the human eye. Items such as tenacity, resiliency, and the integrity of one's heart are just a few of the items that come to mind. Incorporating this principle will help to ensure the chances of success for you.
I would love to hear from you about a time that you may have made the same mistake by utilizing the "eye test. Please comment below.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men - Colossians 3:23 ESV
How would you feel if every morning you were able to wake up excited, energized and ready to take on the world? How would things be different if you knew that by following your passion you would be positively affecting those around you? Discovering your passion is not easy. I want to share with you 3 ways to help you discover your passion.
1. Become a Child
Do you remember when you where a child and wanted to conquer the world and nothing was going to hold you back? As a child, you weren't weighed down by the negative feedback that you experienced as an adult telling you about the things you can't and shouldn't do. Return back to those days as a child when you weren't hindered by other's opinion of you and experienced joy and freedom.
2. Don't Let Money Be The Object
Don't let money be the primary motivator when it comes to pursuing your passion. Although it is satisfying to have your passion become a primary source of income, doing something solely for the money is a recipe for disaster and can oftentimes cloud your judgment and focus.
3. Examine Your Past
Oftentimes we are discouraged from revisiting our past. However this can be a source for discovering your passion. Look at your past and examine the things that you have accomplished or enjoyed doing. This can be a revealing clue as to the things that you derive satisfaction from.
What do you feel is keeping you from finding your passion and living with purpose? Please share in the comment section below, I would to hear from you!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever - 1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
When it comes to fixing things, for the most part, I am all thumbs. I have gotten better over time, but I usually look up the appropriate professional when it comes to repairing the more difficult things around our home. There use to be a time when I would be jealous of those individuals that can easily repair the routine items that break in addition to possessing the talent to plan and tackle the more complex projects that require guys like me to spend money out of our pockets. Why do they have the gift to be talented with their hands and I have to struggle with simple items such as driving a nail into a board without bending it?
Men, why are we reluctant to embrace how different we are from others? I think there are a few reasons why we don't embrace our differences and appreciate and use the gifts that we have been blessed with. The first is that we are insecure or don't really know who we are. We are either hesitant to start the journey of discovering who we are because we are afraid of the answers or don't know how to go about uncovering who we are. The second reason, which in some cases is more insidious than the first, revolves around society encouraging us to fit in. This societal norm has been a part of the majority of people since childhood. "Don't take risks", "don't cause any waves or draw any attention to yourself are some the mantras that have been preached to us. This type of societal advice runs counter to what we are as men. We are made for adventure. We are made to color outside the lines. The only way that we can do this effectively is learning to embrace our uniqueness and the differences that come with being individuals. We must learn to use whatever gifts that we have to positively impact our world and lead our families.
How do we learn to find and use our gifts? The first place that you need to start is by taking inventory of the things that you truly enjoy doing and seem to come easy for you. Let me caution you that when you engage in this exercise, you will have to do 2 things: 1) You will need to be brutally honest in this self assessment exercise as you identify your gift and 2) You need to be ready and willing to act upon utilizing your gift after you have correctly identified it. If you are not willing to do these 2 things, you may as well not even start the process. It pains me to see my fellow men that struggle with the concept of embracing their differences and not living up to the potential and settling for being like someone else. As Soren Kierkegaard (a Danish philosopher, poet and theologian) stated, "the deepest form of despair is to choose to be another than himself."
Starting today, resolve to discover your gifts and use them to serve others. Take some time to go to a quiet place where you won't be disturbed (I know that's tough for you with young ones, but this is a life changing task!) and begin the process of uncovering your talents. The discovery will not happen overnight, but with consistent effort and God's help, you will find the things that make you unique.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light - 1Peter 2:9 NIV
I love the conversations that I have with my sons during the time that we have together before they have to get on the bus. It is during these times I have an opportunity to listen to them share with me what's going on at school in addition to the challenges that they are facing. As a result of some of our conversations, I find out about how the majority of their classmates don't embrace their individuality and go out of their way to fit in. It saddens me to hear this and I make it a point to tell me sons that each of them are unique and God has created them for a specific purpose. I drill into them to not be a copy and be an original.
I have stated before the all of us are born originals, but die copies. My prayer is that each of your reading this will acknowledge and embrace how unique you are and in doing so, contribute your talent to the world the way God designed. As many of you know, I read a lot and I came across a quote by Parker Palmer in his book 'Let Your Life Speak: Listening to The Voice of Vocation' that sums up the quandary that a lot of people face. He states “before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” Unless we have a "burning bush" moment telling us otherwise, the majority of us are more apt to aspire to being like someone else as opposed to celebrating our individuality.
As Peter states in today's scripture, we are a chosen people and a royal priesthood. Just let that thought sink in for a moment. All of us are chosen and are considered royalty. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel special. Because we are all chosen and considered God's special possessions, we need to conduct ourselves that way. We are called out of the darkness and into the light and as a result, we are to exhibit that uniqueness by exhibiting a holy and useful life. Starting today, let's break out of the mold that we feel compelled by the world to fit in and begin to act like the chosen person that God intended us to be. I know some of the people that are reading this on a personal level and I know for a fact that the world needs for you to display your uniqueness. I am certain that we can change the world and draw more people to experience the joy of having Christ in their life if we will be the person that God created and let YOUR light shine before men.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.