Confession time. A few days ago I turned 46. Yup, four more years (God willing) and I hit the big five. The signs are all there. Hair is greying – rapidly. The battle of the bulge has been lost. And cute babes I meet now call me ‘uncle’.
So, birthday 46 was pretty quiet. Family and a few friends sent their good wishes. I spent the day reflecting on life–a meditative pit stop in an F1 rat race where all the rats now drive Ferraris.
A piece of Scripture came to mind. In fact this piece of Scripture has been very much on my mind since the beginning of the year. It comes from God’s call to the prophet Jeremiah from Jeremiah 1:4,5:
The LORD gave me a message. He said: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”(NLT)
If Jeremiah’s experience is normative, then, it would appear that we were all ideas in God’s mind before we were a gleam in our parent’s eyes. It means that we were created for a purpose and that this purpose has a vocational dimension.
I find this tremendously liberating. It means that life is not just buying and consuming groceries till the grave. It means that however hard it may to believe, God has a role for each of us to play in the drama of life.
The difficulty of course is finding the script assigned to us. How do I discover my life mission?
In his very helpful book, COURAGE AND CALLING, Gordon T. Smith gives us four key questions to ask ourselves as we seek to discover our life vocation:
1. What are your gifts and abilities? What do you do well?
2. What are your deepest desires? What do we long for more than anything else?
3. Where do you see the brokenness of the world? What specific area of need on the world “impresses you to the core of your heart and calls you to be something or do something?”
4. What is your unique personality?
Smith believes that if we reflect on our lives through the grid of these four questions, we will begin to understand the nature of our life calling.
Clearly our callings will be diverse. God has need of many roles in His unfolding drama.
I have a good friend whose life mission is to provide excellent leadership and management in the market-place, leadership which is undergirded by Kingdom values. I have another friend, a successful young lawyer, seriously considering a teaching position with a major missions organization. Both of them are seeking to be true to their unique callings.
As for myself? A few years ago I did a life mission discovery exercise and came up with some variation of the following:
“To transform lives for Christ by communicating God’s Word with relevance, accuracy, and passion.”
I think it still holds. And so on my 46th birthday I commit myself afresh to my calling.
You don’t need to wait for a birthday to reflect on your life mission. But you do need to know what your life mission is. Even if it is just a rough idea.
The world is changing rapidly. There is not much we can do to change that.
But as the alarm clock jars us awake every morning, we must be clear of at least two thing.
Who is our God? What does He expect of us?