Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: An Inventory of Strengths, 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 this series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." This week we continue step three, an inventory of strengths, with a theological and biblical discussion. For material on the first two steps, longing and surrender, be sure to read previous posts on my website. Also, subscribers will get exclusive material from this series emailed to them next week, so be sure that you have subscribed here.

Discerning our strengths, also referred to as our talents or gifts in this series, is key to living our life purpose. I use life purpose to mean God’s comprehensive plan or direction for our life. Another term that is important to a theological understanding of this topic is vocation.

Theologians John Calvin and Martin Luther both developed specific teachings or doctrines on vocation. They understood its scope to extend well beyond traditional ministry positions, such as the monastic life, which was revolutionary in their day. Their broad description of vocation included “even the lowliest daily tasks” as means of responding to God. * Calvin believed that one could even sweep the floor for God’s glory!

The aim of Christian vocation is to give God glory. “As we honor and serve God in our daily life and labor, we worship God. Whatever our situation, we have opportunities each day to bear witness to the power of God at work within us. Therefore, for Christians, worship, work, and witness cannot be separated." * It is our responsiveness and the pervasiveness of our worship that gives God glory. 

How we honor God through our lives will vary. God left his creative thumbprint upon us as our Creator. While we have been infused with different strengths, we are all united as Christians as we serve God through them. “We all, each of us, will write the definition of what this service means as we live out our calls. Whether in the ministry of word and sacrament, in teaching, specialized ministries, administration—whatever and wherever—the common thread of service to God in Christ ties us together.” * In other words, though we have different life purposes, we have one goal. 

While God wants to utilize our strengths to do his work “whatever and wherever” in the world, God has set apart some tasks for the church. Paul addresses the concept of spiritual gifts three main times in scripture in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Because every Christian is given at least one spiritual gift or strength, they should be included in this step’s discussion too.

There two kinds of spiritual gifts. First, there are extraordinary ones like speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and miracles. Scripture also names others that are more commonly used in church life. These are the gifts of administration, artistry, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, hospitality, intercession, knowledge, leadership, mercy, vocal and instrumental music, pastoring/shepherding, service, skilled craft, teaching, wisdom, and writing. While it’s clear that certain gifts can carry over into work outside of the church, the primary function of spiritual gifts is to unite, grow, and mature the church. *

An assessment of our spiritual strengths is a factor as we live our life purpose. What unites our gifts—whether spiritual or otherwise—is that we’re meant to employ them to give God glory. Also, they are just that—gifts. They are not something we choose; they are given to us. Uncovering and utilizing them will unlock a greater joy in our lives through our Creator!

* John R. Walchenbach, "Vocation," The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology, edited by Donald K. McKim (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001) 231.
* Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, "Directory for Worship," W-5.0105.
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), 342.
* “Finding Your Spiritual Gifts Scripture Review — Printable Version,” 

Subscribers will receive exclusive material, sent right to their inbox, to conclude this step next week! I will continue sharing my personal story with them as I have found my life purpose—don't miss it! 
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