What can we learn from the mission of Paul in Titus 1:1? Download free article on Life Mission: Paul’s and Yours. He had a mission, a sense of destiny. It is of vital importance that we have one as well. After an extensive investigation, J Robert Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller Seminary concluded: 70% of leaders do not finish well! Those who did not finish well had several common characteristics. One of those related to mission is: They stopped leading, being aware of their influence and sense of destiny.[i]
Mark Buchanan in Rest of God reflects: “Who God really is and who you really are: this is understood, not just in light of the past and the present, but in light of the future too. Who will you be? This is as crucial to your full identity as who you have been or have become. The future shapes you as much as the past of the present, maybe more. Destiny, every bit as much as history, determines identity.”[ii]
Erwin McManus in his series of podcasts encourages us to dream about what it is God wants us to be and do to make the world a better place. He challenges us to, “Live our most heroic life!”[iii]
“The greatest tragedy is not to have died; the greatest tragedy is to never have lived.” Jean Valjean in Les Miserables
So whether you call it a sense of destiny, your future, your most heroic life or your mission, it is clear we need to have one. While it is true that everyone ends up somewhere; few people end up somewhere on purpose. So where do you want to end up?
Here is a smorgasbord of ideas on how to develop a life mission.
- Train yourself in godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7,8 tell us, “train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” As we saw in Paul’s life, the ultimate goal is to become conformed to the image of God. This requires that we take personal responsibility for our own progress. No blame shifting; no passivity. Training in godliness requires commitment, practice, God-centered devotion, spending time in the Word and prayer. It is not about developing a great proficiency in our jobs or ministries, but it focused on our relationship with God and developing Christ-like character.
- Do good deeds. Serve others. Your mission is not all about you. It is about making the world a better place. As you humbly serve, you find out what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, and where God is powerful in you.[iv]
- Pray. Ask the Father. Take a clue from the life of Jesus. He spent time alone with the Father to get his marching orders for each day. Read Mark 1:35-38. Jesus knew his mission because he spent time talking to the Father about it.
- Learn your SHAPE. Pastor Rick Warren has some good materials on learning how you are SHAPEd for ministry. Each of us has unique gifts and talents. SHAPE is an acrostic for:
- Spiritual Gifts – A set of special abilities that God has give to you to share his love and serve others.
- Heart – The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth.
- Abilities – The set of talents that God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him.
- Personality – The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
- Experiences – Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.[v]
- Take a spiritual gifts test. Download free spiritual gifts test to get started.
- Ask questions. Bob Buford in his book, Half Time says to ask questions of yourself. Here are a few to get you started:
- Am I missing anything in my life right now that’s important to me?
- What am I passionate about?
- Who am I?
- What do I value?
- What do I want to be doing in ten years?
- What gifts has God given me?
- What am I willing to die for?
- What is it about my job that makes me feel trapped?
- What changes can I make?
- What do I need to learn? What changes do I need to make in order to live up to the demands on myself and my expectations of life? [vi]
- Reggie McNeal has a good chapter on mission in his book, Practicing Greatness. In the section on discovering your mission he clarifies that, “Great spiritual leaders understand that their mission is not something they invent. Rather, they realize that their life mission is something they discover.” He offers several insights:
Distill out the core or essence of your call from God. One way to do this is by asking key questions such as,
- What people or cause do you feel drawn to?
- What do you want to help people do or achieve or experience?
- How do you want to help people?
- What message do you want to deliver?
- How do you intend to serve or have an impact on the world?
Move toward your area of passion. Learn what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Know what makes your heart beat faster. Get in touch with what makes you feel alive.
Talent. Your mission matches your personal strengths. God is not capricious. He gave you talents and strengths for a purpose.
Personality also gives you a clue to your mission. Your personality and make up is no mistake. God made you unique.[vii]
What is your mission? What is your destiny? What do you wish to be remembered for?
“The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays he role destiny has for him.” Vaclav Havel
“The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do…to find the idea for which I can live and die.” Søren Kierkegaard
What has helped you develop a life mission? Please leave a comment.
[i] J Robert Clinton notes on Finishing Well
[ii] Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, p 208-209
[iii] Erwin McManus podcast on Wide Awake found at iTunes
[iv] A good book on this topic is Eric Swanson’s The Externally-Focused Church
[v] More on SHAPE can be found at the following links: http://www.pastors.com/blogs/ministrytoolbox/archive/2004/02/27/Why-must-I-understand-my-S.H.A.P.E._3F00_.aspx
[vi] Bob Buford, Half Time. Go to https://leaderimpact.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/taking-stock-during-transitions-of-life/ for more on this topic.
[vii] Reggie McNeal, Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders, pgs 84-92.