Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Purpose Driven Life - Day 40

Day 40 - Living With Purpose

Day 40 was the final day of the journey in the original edition of the book. However, in the new expanded edition there are two additional days/chapters added. I will also be covering those in my writings. 

I have to say that I think today's chapter is very exciting to me. It is all about how to live the lessons we've learned over the past 40 days, and how to prepare and write a Life Purpose Statement. Similar to a typical Mission Statement. I think this is a fabulous idea! And will begin to draft mine as soon as I finish the next two chapters. 

Pastor Rick is very clear that a Life Purpose Statement may take weeks or even months to complete, and will probably be revised through the years as we grow in spiritual maturity. So, I suppose that in essence it will never really be completed. It will be a creation that takes on a life of its own and will grow over time as we grow. How beautiful is that?

First, we examine what exactly a Life Purpose Statement is...

  • It is a statement that summarizes God's purposes for your life:  We are advised to use our own words and our heart to affirm our commitment to God's five purposes for our life. Being mindful that a Purpose Statement is not a list of temporary goals, but a statement of eternal purposes.  The Bible says: "His plans endure forever, His purposes last eternally." 
  • It is a statement that points the direction of your life: When we write things out, it forces us to not only remember them, but to also consider them more strongly and with purpose. The Bible says: "Know where you are headed and you will stay on solid ground."  Your statement should not only be written in mind of the things you will do with your life, but also the things you will no longer do.  Proverbs say: "An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions."  In other words, you cannot go East and West at the same time! 
  • It's a statement that defines "success" for you:  Simply, it identifies what you feel is important - not what society tells you is important. It helps you to focus on your values. 
  • It's a statement that clarifies your roles:  In life we go from being a child, to an adult, some of us become parents, we have careers, our children move out, we become grandparents... and so on...  These are roles we play. Our roles are ever-evolving, and throughout our lives we will have different roles. However, our purposes remain unchanged, and will always be of greater importance than any role we hold in this life. 
  • It is a statement that expresses your SHAPE: Keep your unique SHAPE in mind, the SHAPE God made you in, when drafting your statement. 
Pastor Rick advises that the best way to begin is to just write, as fast as your fingers will allow for writing/typing - to keep up with the thoughts as they come to mind. For it is much easier to add or edit later, than it is to try and think of something you forgot include. He also cautions that you will probably have dozens of drafts before settling upon a Statement that truly reflects your intention. Your commitment to God. 

In school, we learn to consider the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How, when writing a story or essay. Pastor Rick has provided the following list of five questions we should consider when preparing our Life Purpose Statement. 

  1. What will be the center of my life?  This is a question of worship. And if the answer for you isn't God ... you really need to rethink your purposes and should perhaps begin again at page 1.  And how do you know when God is at the center of your life? When God is at the center, you worship. When He's not, you worry. The Bible says: "A sense of God's wholeness.... will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." 
  2. What will be the character of my life? This is a question of disciplineship. This is about the kind of person you want to be. Bearing in mind that God is is more concerned with who you are than what you do, and that you character is the one thing you will take with you into your eternal life. Pastor Rick advises that we make a list of the character qualities we want to develop or work on, and he suggests that we consider the Fruit of the Spirit or the Beatitudes. Peter said: "Don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love." 
  3. What will be the contribution of my life?  This is the question of service.  Consider your God-given SHAPE and how and where you can best be of service in your ministry in the Body of Christ. What is your passion? Who can you best help? Where will your special abilities, experiences, heart, personality and spiritual gifts make the greatest impact?  Pastor Rick urges us to bear in mind that we cannot save the world, that not even Jesus was able to help everyone at once in His time here. That we should focus on a cause, person or group where we may be the most effective. Jesus said: "I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last."  Pastor Rick reminds us that each of us bears different fruit. 
  4. What will be the communication of my life?  This is the question of our mission to unbelievers. Our Mission Statement is a part of our Life Purpose Statement, and should include our commitment to share our testimony and the Good News with others. We are advised to also list our life lessons and Godly passions we feel God has given us to share with the world. The Bible says: "Be sure that you live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ." 
  5. What will be the community of my life?  This is the question of fellowship. The Bible says: "Christ loved the Church and gave His life for it."  We are urged to include an expression of our love for God's Church in our statement.  You should also include Scriptures that speak to your heart about each of the five purposes and each of the questions to consider. My favorite quote of the day falls in this section and reads: "Before most unbelievers accept the Bible as credible they want to know that we are credible."  When I read this, I thought  'YES, YES, YES!!!" I cannot tell you how my gravest issue with religion, "Christians", the Church and the Bible, has been the enormous hypocrisy displayed everywhere you look! Frankly, if you are going to talk the talk - you need to walk the walk! Part of this journey for me, has been the reminder that my journey is my own. I need not worry about what everyone else is doing - or not doing. And when I open my mouth to share my testimony, and the Good News with someone, I know that my example will be pure of heart. 
Pastor Rick suggests that in addition to creating our Life Purpose Statement, we also create a shorter statement or slogan that summarizes the five purposes for your life in a way that's memorable and inspires you.  He lists several as examples. I will post the one that touched me.

"My life purpose is the be a member of Christ's family, a model of His character, a minister of His grace, a messenger of His word and a magnifier of His glory."

I cannot think of a more beautiful way to live my life.