Purpose, destiny, calling… these are really big words. I wish I could tell you that I have everything figured out. But none of that would be true.
In the last year especially, I’ve been trying to find out more about my own calling too.
The reality is that everyone is seeking purpose in life, no matter what stage of life you’re at. “Am I fulfilling my purpose?” can be a daunting thought.
But I’ve learnt a lot from what Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church, Benny Ho, has to say about this and want to share it with you.
At the end of this article, you’ll also find some handles on how to craft a personal mission statement as you step into a new year!
LOOK UP WHEN PURSUING PURPOSE
We all want to be successful. But… what is real success?
Pastor Benny provides this definition: Real success is when we become who God wants us to be.
It’s fulfilling the purpose God has for our lives. Because ultimately, it is God who validates our lives.
If all of us are created by God and for God, then our pursuit of purpose must begin with God. It is only God who can define our purpose, destiny and calling.
After all, purpose begins in the mind of the Creator. Indeed, as His creation, our purpose and our very existence have to be linked to God Himself.
And if we know anything about God, He’s a responsible Creator who would put that gifting in you. A responsible Creator will never demand from creation what He has not given you the ability to do.
The point is: Your potential cannot be divorced from your gifting, your God-given abilities.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
I once heard a leader say: “When you don’t know what to do, begin by doing what you know you must.”
This is echoed by American author Robert Hudnut.
“All we have to do to hear God’s call is to do what we were already doing.”
Pastor Benny explains it like this: What were the first disciples doing when Jesus called them? Matthew was collecting taxes; Simon Peter and Andrew were fishing.
The very first call is to come to Christ (Matthew 4:19). When we do that, He will then call us to different assignments (secondary callings) as we go through life.
Figuring out our unique assignment is a process and not a step-by-step formula.
As we grow, our callings can shift. We have many callings, but one destiny – to follow Jesus whole-heartedly. It’s about a journey we are taking with God.
Figuring out our unique assignment is a process and not a step-by-step formula. However, there are concrete things Pastor Benny advises we begin doing in this process, such as knowing our D.E.S.I.G.N..
The acrostic is taken from American pastor Wayne Cordeiro’s book Doing Church as a Team.
What are your passions that you care about and channel your resources to? This could be in the area of evangelism, missions, truth and apologetics.
God places burdens on our hearts because that’s where He’s calling us to. For example, you may have a burden for the next generation or for the Chinese-speaking community.
What are some things God has allowed you to go through? These often point to the assignment He has for us.
In your various life experiences, God has been growing you in character and ability. What are some of these experiences and how have you grown from them?
We all have at least one (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Romans 12:6-8). However, we don’t discover them by waiting around.
We discover our gifts by serving — the more you get engaged, the more you discover where your strengths and weaknesses are.
- Explore all possibilities: Be open to trying and experimenting with various service areas.
- Examine your feelings: How did you feel doing X versus doing Y?
- Evaluate the results: How did it turn out? The outcome doesn’t necessarily determine whether this is our spiritual gifting or not. But sometimes it can guide you to what you might be naturally gifted in doing!
- Expect feedback from godly leaders: They can be helpful in confirming your spiritual gifts.
It’s about knowing how you are wired. Are you better with people or systems? Are you a detail-oriented or big-picture person?
Recognise where you are in your spiritual growth, i.e. your maturity in Christ (1 Peter 2:2).
What abilities and skills come naturally to you? You might be just really good at influencing people, or you might pick up cooking easily.
One of the hindrances to fulfilling our calling is our own sense of inadequacy, says Pastor Benny. However, if God calls you, He thinks you are adequate.
LOOK BACK USING A TIMELINE
Another piece of advice from Pastor Benny: God is the God of our yesterday, today and forever.
Everything that has happened in the past has bearings on today and points us to the future.
If you’re not someone who likes to reflect and journal, consider starting.
Looking back helps us remember how God has been working in our lives. It gives encouragement, clarity and guidance!
So how do you look back? One way is to construct a personal timeline.
Identity significant and critical life experiences
These will include good, bad and ordinary events that left an indelible mark on you.
Think in terms of key people, events, crises, successes, failures, disappointments, pains, joys… write them all down.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense at first. As you wait upon God, He will connect the dots for you.
Review them in light of these 10 things
Use any of these 10 process items as you think about the events and experiences you listed down.
- Integrity check: Things God uses to test your conviction.
- Word check: Tests to apply revelation to life (life verses are usually destiny pointers, e.g. 2 Timothy 2:2 for Ps Benny as a discipler/teacher).
- Divine contact: Someone who helped develop you.
- Faith challenge: Steps of faith that grow your trust in God.
- Destiny revelation: Steps to your prophetic destiny.
- Negative preparation: Experiences to bring you to the next level (sometimes we go through negative stuff but we don’t process it in light of who God is).
- Life crisis: Situations that teach total dependence.
- Ministry conflict: Conflicts that help shape values.
- Leadership backlash: Consequences of decisions made.
- Isolation: Times alone in a deeper walk with God.
List 3 of the most important items and speak to someone
What were the three most critical life events in your personal timeline? Share and process this with someone.
Processing helps us articulate what has taken place. That way, we won’t miss the listening points that God is sending into our lives through events that have happened.
A key question to ask yourself: Where has God brought me from and where is He bringing me to?
LOOK AHEAD BY CLARIFYING YOUR CORE VALUES
What are your personal values?
Pastor Benny defines values as such:
- Values are often unwritten assumptions that guide our actions and decision-making.
- Values demonstrate our convictions and determine our priorities
- Values are confirmed by our actions, not just our words.
- Values provide the foundation for formulating goals and setting the direction of our life.
Our core values are the 5-10 key statements that reflect our uniqueness as a person. Our values cannot be divorced from our purpose. In fact, our calling is value-driven.
Pastor Benny puts it this way: You can’t say, I don’t value truth but I want to be an apologist. You can’t become a missionary if you can’t value people’s culture. If you don’t value children, how can you be a children’s church pastor?
Review your values against The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Do they align?
Write one word then expand it with an inspiring statement. Do this up to 10 times with 10 different values. Below is one example of a value.
Family: My family is the cargo I need to carry across the finishing line.
Do note that sometimes the values that drive us may not be biblical, e.g. scarcity vs stinginess.
Pastor Benny recommends reviewing your values against The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Do they align?
Additionally, your values must reflect who you are. Check with those around you and see what they say.
If these are indeed your values, they would also be validated by the M.A.T.E. test.
- Money: Our budget
- Attention: Our focus
- Time: Our diary/calendar
- Energy: Our efforts
What is your personal vision?
Now that you have articulated your personal values, ask yourself:
- What are some key events and people who have significantly shaped your life?
- What are some key ministry experiences that God has allowed in your life?
- What are some of the most satisfying things that you have done that have contributed to the kingdom of God?
- What are some things that you have done that others have felt truly blessed by and have told you so?
- What are some things that you are really passionate about?
- If you have unlimited resources, what is one thing that you would spend your life doing?
What is your personal calling?
Our personal values and our personal vision form our personal calling.
These should help you form a personal statement that best describes your future direction and ministry call. That will act as a compass for you to know how to take action from here onwards, i.e. what to do to fulfil that purpose.
Crafting a calling statement can give us direction when we’re feeling lost in life.
Pastor Benny shared his own personal statement: Lover of God, developer of people and a communicator for Him.
These are his three major things, so everything he does has to revolve around this. He has revisited it a few times over the last 20 years, but they haven’t changed much.
At our age, he advises us to start by planning for three years. We will revisit it over our lives, but we can start somewhere!
What is your personal statement?
Visualise your calling statement by writing it out. Verbalise it by speaking it aloud. Actualise it by putting it into practice as you live each day.
Additionally, these are markers of a well-written calling statement which Pastor Benny recommends reviewing our personal statement against:
- Is it inspiring? Intentionally use more active and positive language.
- Is it concise? One short paragraph will do; it’s not meant to be an entire chapter.
- Is it futuristic? It should describe where you want to go and provide a source of direction.
- Is it detailed? It should be a picture of who you’re becoming three years from now. It must be uniquely you; it’s not a slogan but a statement.
Unfortunately, the future is still unknown. You may be excited by it or afraid of it.
But crafting a calling statement can give us direction when we’re feeling lost in life. It reminds us of the personal mission God has for us and helps us discern which paths to choose.
If you’re anxious, Pastor Benny lends this advice: Don’t worry so much about it. You’re on that journey already. You’re more in it than you think.
A lot seems uncertain, but we have a God whom we can be certain about. He holds us safe and secure in His hands. Even when we don’t realise it, He’s guiding us.
Want to learn more from Pastor Benny? He will be conducting a course on Calling and Destiny in March 2022, which you can register your interest for at faith.org.au/arrows.
- If you haven’t done so before, construct a timeline of your life! What do you notice from your past experiences and where God might be leading you?
- Reflect on your personal values and vision. How much do they align with The Great Commandment and the Great Commission?
- Try to articulate your calling statement and share it with your community. How can you be accountable to this personal mission God has given you?