Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Ti 2:20–21).
Lesson 3: "Identifying Yourself"
By Charles B. Knight
Os Guinness records this sobering confession by a successful businessman with no clear purpose:
“’As you know, I have been very fortunate in my career and I’ve made a lot of money—far more than I ever dreamed of. Far more than I could ever spend, far more than my family needs.’ The speaker was a prominent businessman at a conference near Oxford University. The strength of his determination and character showed in his face, but a moment’s hesitation betrayed deeper emotions hidden behind the outward intensity. A single tear rolled slowly down his well-tanned cheek. ‘To be honest, one of my motives for making so much money was simple—to have the money to hire people to do what I don’t like doing.But there’s one thing I’ve never been able to hire anyone to do for me: find my own sense of purpose and fulfillment. I’d give anything to discover that.’” (taken from, Kraft, D. (2010). Leaders who last. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.).
Do you know who you really are and what your purpose is in life? Many have started out knowing, but as the hustle and bustle of life took its toll, they forgot. Someone once said, Whatever you do with your life may be good, but are you doing what you were meant to? The chief purpose in life is to fear God and keep His commandments. (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The problem is, we allow our own human weaknesses to interfere. Each one of us is unique in that we posses different personalities, talents, abilities, etc. But, are we using what God has given us, for His glory? After all, our unique talents and abilities are really not our own. They have been given to us by the Master. We were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-16). We were created for the purpose of doing His good works (Ephesians 2:10).
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), a master preparing to leave town gives his three servants talents (money) to manage while he is away. The amount of money entrusted to each servant to handle was in accordance with their unique ability (Matthew 25:15). The servants were not the owners of the talents; they were stewards of them. The same thing is true of each of us. God has given all of us something to be good stewards of: Such as money, time, occupations, families, the gospel, etc. None of us are empty handed. We must know ourselves. We must use our unique selves to be useful to the Master’s universal cause.
Paul taught the church at Corinth to appreciate and accept the fact that though every member has unique differences, every member has an important purpose and function in the Master’s kingdom (see 1 Corinthians 12:14-30) No one is unimportant.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV).
Career & Purpose Are Not The Same Thing
It’s easy to confuse purpose and career. When I speak of a compelling purpose, I am speaking about the spiritual focus of your life. Whatever your career may be—teacher, chemical engineer, athlete, doctor, lawyer, janitor— you have a purpose that is higher and more eternally significant than what you do to put bread on the table. What is your God-given purpose? Have you identified it? What has the Lord gifted and called you to do in the body of Christ and among the lost? What is your contribution to the spreading of the Gospel?
Moses was once a great and powerful royal figure in the Egyptian kingdom. He was well educated and possessed great wealth! (Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:23-29). Moses may have one day sat on the throne! But this wasn’t his purpose. Moses gave it all up to become a humble leader and counselor in the wilderness— leading millions of slaves (who eventually became God’s special people), to freedom.
The Apostles. Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; Philppians 3:4-5). He was a highly educated man (Acts 5:34; 22:3), a tent-maker by trade (Acts 18:1-3), and a doctor of the Law of Moses. At first, Paul used his education and influence to destroy others and advance himself politically (Gal 1:13,14). Who knows, He probably would have become a high ranking Jewish or Roman official! Later, Paul realized what his true purpose was to magnify Christ to any all people! (Rom 1:14,15; Gal 1:15,16; Phil 1:20). Hence, Paul began to use is God-given talents to live out his life-purpose. Andrew, James, John and Peter, were fishermen (Matt 1:18-22) . Matthew was a tax-collector (Matt 9:9; 10:1-3). But these occupations didn’t define their purpose. Have you discovered your unique self? Are you living your God-given purpose? (consider Prov 16:1-3, 9).
Finding Your Life Purpose
1) Record Bible passages that best apply to your life story.
2) Reflect on how God has used you in the past.
3) Determine what you are passionate about.
4) List your known gifts and strengths.
5) Described what you have excelled at in your work experience.
6) Define what action words best describe what you like to do.
7) Write down what you enjoy doing in your free time.
8) Reread all your answers.
9) Take note of common themes.
10) Write down key words or ideas that repeat.
11) Summarize those key words in a short, energizing statement about yourself.
Choose one or more of the following Challenges below. Share the results your challenge with others, and encourage them to challenge themselves.
1) Write a letter to yourself. Explain to yourself the changes you will be making to live a more purpose-driven life, useful to the Master’s cause.
2) Read the book of Ephesians. Take note of God’s purposes in each chapter. Meditate on how you fit into each one of them.
3) Contact someone you know who is wasting their unique God-given talents. Encourage them to advance and use their unique abilities to serve a greater purpose.
4) Do one kind act for a total stranger each day of the week, for one week.