Do I matter? Am I making a difference? These are questions we all wrestle with at one time or another. The innate need to be significant and live with purpose is something we can’t ignore. It tolls within us like the midnight bell…do I still have time? Has the opportunity passed me by?
The last few days I have been pondering several scriptures I believe are related to living a purposeful life. It’s easy to get caught up believing that the truly purposeful people are the ones we “see.” You know, the one up front on Sunday morning, the manager at the office, the line leader, the vice president – well, the person with the title. I find scripture to have a very different perspective.
The answer to three questions will help you to determine how you can live with purpose. First, is your heart stirred? Second, where are your skills? And, finally, are you willing to get started?
Is your heart stirred? When God gave instructions to Moses to build a Tabernacle (see the book of Exodus in the Old Testament), the details included how to collect the necessary supplies. In Exodus 25:1 it says that the Lord told Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them.” The same applied when David planned for the building of the Temple (I Chronicles 29:9).
In the book of Ezra, also in the Old Testament, Cyrus conquered the Babylon Empire and in an effort to gain the favor of everyone’s gods, he sends the people that his predecessor had taken captive to their homelands with instructions to rebuild the temples of their gods. This included the Israelites who were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord God Almighty. This is an exciting day and one would think everyone would want to return to their homeland. But they didn’t. Ezra 1:5-6 says that “God stirred the hearts…” of the people who would go back to go back to rebuild the temple and their neighbors, whose hearts God did not stir, assisted by giving them supplies, including gold and silver to help with the project.
Is God stirring your heart about something? The really beautiful thing is that God will stir our hearts for the things he wants us to do. He knows us. He wants our best and he wants us to live with purpose.
It might be a project or a need in your community. Or maybe it is a specific specialty within your line of work. There are so many ways we can live purposefully that have nothing to do with titles or positions or prosperity.
How is God stirring you?
Where are you skilled? God’s instructions to Moses for building the Tabernacle were extremely detailed. His details included who to select to do the specialized crafting work. God had chosen Bezalel, filling him with the Spirit of God “giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver and bronze.” (Exodus 31:3-4) Later, in verse 6, he names others who have been given specific skills to create everything Moses needed.
God has gifted each of us with specific skills. Sometimes that skill is to teach others to do and sometimes it is to do. It may be the skill to craft something, to lead or to lend a listening ear to hurting individuals. It may be the skill of salesmanship or design. There is no limit to how God may have gifted you to live on purpose.
I admire people who have decorating skills. Earlier this week I was doing some shopping looking for holiday pillows. At the store I met another woman also buying pillows. I picked one up and began a search for another that matched and she eagerly jumped in to give assistance. I quickly realized she had a skill for decorating. We chatted a little and I learned that she did, indeed, love to decorate and found a great deal of joy in the process. That is very unlike me. I find decorating to be tedious and overwhelming. She is skilled in ways I am not.
One caveat is worth mentioning at this point. God had gifted Bezalel and others to work with all kinds of materials, including metals. In the very next chapter of Exodus (32), these very skills, intended to honor God, are used to make a golden calf that the people worshiped rather than God. The very skills given to glorify God were used for selfish, idolatrous purposes.
We can use our skills for good to live a life on purpose. We can just as easily use them for evil, to point others away from God. We get to choose.
Where are you skilled and how are you using those skills?
Are you willing to get started, no matter how small? Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Will it work? Am I hearing right? What if it flops?
In Zechariah, another Old Testament writing, the prophet is sent to tell those rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem (mentioned above) not to lose heart. The people faced opposition when they returned to Jerusalem. Those living nearby didn’t like the idea that the Temple was going to be rebuilt, so they made it difficult for the people doing the work. Morale fell to an all time low, and the people stopped working.
God sent the prophet to encourage them and in Zechariah 4:10 he says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” A plumb line is the tool used to make sure the wall is going up straight. It is a beginning tool necessary to get started right.
Beginnings often look less than impressive. Beginnings are often wrought with difficulty and opposition. It is easy to become discouraged and set aside the new thing until another day. And sometimes after beginning, you will discover that you aren’t in quite the right spot yet. Adjustments need to be made and that can be overwhelming.
Beginning something, like writing a blog, is scary. Does anyone read it? Is this purposeful? This type of forum is different for me and there are many things I don’t know about how it works. It would be easy to stop. But I have to ask myself these questions, too! Is my heart stirred to write? Yes, it is! Where are my skills? I love to write and words come together for me. Writing is my skill. Am I willing to get started? Even if the beginning is small?
Are you willing to get started?
How do you answer these questions? Don’t look around and see what anyone else is doing. Look within. God is doing a unique work within you and he knows you. He is delighted when you find purpose and significance in your daily tasks. It doesn’t matter if you work from home, from an office, at a coffee shop, in a dress shop, behind a desk or in front of a computer. He knows you!
How is God stirring your heart? Is there something you can’t quite shake?
Where are your skills? What is that thing you do well? That thing that would fill you life with purpose?
Are you willing to get started in spite of opposition or if it seems small? Remember, the Lord loves those small beginnings! He is eager and ready to see you pick up the plumb line and get started!
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26