Monday, February 25, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, Part Two

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. The second step is surrender, which I introduced last week. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Stay tuned for part three on surrender next week!

Surrender is a counter-intuitive step to living our life purpose given the nature of most self-help literature today. We want to do something; to make something happen. But the spiritual path differs from this perspective. Vocation and life coaching experts Robert and Kim Voyle write, “Your life is not something you own. You did not create it and it’s not for you to tell it, or God, what it should be. You may however gratefully and humbly awaken to your life, discover its purpose and manifest it in the world. In this your deepest longings will be fulfilled…” * To do so, we must tune into the voice within and to our Creator.

The Bible says that our Creator formed us with purpose and intention. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably seen hard proof of this. Children can express tendencies and personalities that are unique to them instead of cultivated by you. We can raise each of our children the same way, and yet they can turn out so differently. Psalm 139 confirms this by testifying that our Creator God is at work forming us with a plan before birth.



Christian author Parker Palmer realized this not as a parent, but as a grandfather. He marveled at the unique tendencies of his granddaughter from birth and decided to start recording them in the form of a letter. Parker had experienced depression in his own life before reconnecting with his purpose, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to his granddaughter. In his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation, he explains, 
When my granddaughter reaches her late teens or early twenties, I will make sure that my letter finds its way to her, with a preface something like this: 'Here is a sketch of who you were from your earliest days in this world. It is not a definitive picture – only you can draw that. But it was sketched by a person who loves you very much. Perhaps these notes will help you do sooner something your grandfather did only later: remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.' *
Whether it’s a rediscovery or kind of evolution, the spiritual life requires the time to discern and surrender when it comes to living our purpose. *

* Robert and Kim Voyle, Yes 3! Participant Guide (Clergy Leadership Institute, 2006), 32.
* Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000), 12.
* Note: This material is an excerpt from my article for iBelieve.com, "How to Know Your Life Purpose" (April 13, 2017), and is reprinted here with permission.

Questions to think about this week: What are some of your earliest memories of things that you have enjoyed doing in your life? What persistent personality traits have you expressed? How well do those observations marry with what you do now?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, Part One

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. Last month, I introduced the first step, which is longing. This week, I'm introducing the second step, which is surrender. Subscribers to my website will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them, so be sure that you have subscribed here. Last week, subscribers received the story of my personal call to ministry!



As we have been exploring, the first step to living our life purpose is understanding longing. Given our multi-dimensional lives, it’s crucial that we create space for introspection to unpack the source of our longing as we strive to live our life purpose. When we do not take this time, our longing abides; we live with full schedules but thin souls. Keep in mind that thin souls result even when our schedules are filled with good things, as long as they are not the best things. 

Author Lysa TerKeurst takes up wise decision-making in her New York Times bestselling book The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in The Midst of Endless Demands. She describes a scenario that perhaps you will relate with too:
In this great day when most [people] wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents. We’ll tell you all about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today. 
All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls. And from these holes leaks the cry of the unfulfilled calling [or purpose] that never quite happened. We said yes to so much that we missed what I call our ‘Best Yes’ assignments — simply because we didn’t heed the warning of the whispers within that subtle place…
I miss Best Yes opportunities sometimes because I simply don’t know they’re part of the equation. I get all twisted up in making the decision to check either the Yes or No box, not realizing there is a third box that reads Best Yes…
A Best Yes is you playing your part [in God’s plan]. *
Lysa’s words underline the concept that life purpose brings direction to our lives through the choices we make.

Direction and fulfillment hinge upon the quality of our choices. {Click to Tweet} Undergirding Lysa’s whole premise is the realization that our Best Yes opportunities, or best choices, stem from surrender. We discern them by seeking God’s will. We are selective in our scheduling to create space for what our Creator has destined for us. In other words, we’re not building our own vision of our lives; we’re allowing God to inform our choices so that we can increasingly embody his plan and reflect whom God created us to be.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore the essence of surrender and what it asks of us. Surrender is not foreign to Jesus’ discussion of the pearl from step one either. The merchant had to sell everything he owned to grasp it. Living our life purpose demands that we put pursuit of God’s call before everything else too. Our goal is not self-serving, but God will reward our effort all the same, which I'll discuss in later steps. For now, stay tuned as we unpack surrender through scripture, another contemporary author, theology, and continued elements of my personal story.

* Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2014), 5.

Questions to think about this week: Do you resonate with the expression that it's easy to live today with a "full schedule and thin soul?" What forces contribute to your full schedule? How do you experience a thin soul? 

Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Longing, Part Three

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. We are currently exploring the first step, which is longing. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the first step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with longing and the day I first received my call to ministry. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. And stay tuned for the next post here in two weeks. We'll begin step two, which is surrender. Thank you for your support!



Pacifying our longing will no doubt require our obedience to God in a variety of contexts, just as it did for Rebekah. She needed to express multiple roles such as mother, Christian, and writer to find fulfillment. While her expression meant adding something, for others it might mean pulling back. Regardless, its expression will not be unidimensional. Scholar Donald McKim agrees:
Our vocation is to be Christians in all we are, in all we do. For we are much more, as human beings, than merely our professions, important as they may be. We live as relational individuals, related to many, many people in complex networks of human communities. Should we not see our vocations as extending into all these arenas? Should we not see ourselves comprehensively as people called by God to involvement in all these fibers of human life and bring ourselves as Christians to them all? Yes, we should. *
In this context, living one’s vocation is synonymous with living their life purpose. A recognition of the complexities of life purpose allows us to better recognize and label our longing.

Mathew Arnold conveyed this truth poetically, “Resolve to be thyself: and know that he, who finds himself, loses his misery!” While longing and its associated misery can be alleviated by living our life purpose, there is a human tendency to avoid it. Theologian John Calvin observed “with what great restlessness human nature flames, with what fickleness it is borne hither and thither, how its ambition longs to embrace various things at once.” Living our life purpose therefore is a call to an obedient discipline of sorts. Its fruit is not only satisfaction, but direction. 

Direction is a gift ripe for our modern age. It’s so easy to live with full schedules and thin souls. We can live pressed for time and mired in commitment, such that life’s intangibles are choked out. These intangibles can include quality family time, faith experiences, relaxation, and the mental space for discernment. Checklists and resumes tell one side of the story; they don’t convey what opportunities were lost. Sitting with our longing, our thin souls, and taking time for introspection can allow us to make different decisions, better decisions. In effect, it’s God’s way of orienting our lives back to him as we grasp our full purpose like a pearl. In an exclusive story available only to subscribers next week, I will share what a moment like this looked like for me!

Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 341.

Questions to think about this week: Do you regularly allow time for introspection? How is it easiest for you to commune with God in daily living? Can you identify any challenges to proactively addressing longing in your life?

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