Developing a Life Plan (Part 2)
What are you gifted and called to do? How will you impact the Kingdom of God and the world around you in the next ten years?
Any time you want to step into something new, it is important to reflect backwards as well. This is a continuation of our Life Plan series adapted from my book, The Power of Mentoring: Shaping People Who will Shape the World. Over the next few blogs, I'll post questions that can help you reflect and move forward into the dream God has for you in the next season of life.
Your Gifts and Calling
When you assess your areas of gifting, it’s not just about reflecting on what you’ve done. It’s also important to look at areas that you’ve not yet developed. Look at past successes and failures. Look at issues of confidence, or lack thereof, to see if they are holding you back. Also, look not only at your experiences, but also at your passion and your dreams. Then look at issues of your temperament, the time availability you have and your personal and spiritual maturity. This will help you figure out what your gifting and passion are and how you can best invest your life.
1. What do you like to do?
2. What have you been successful at?
3. What is a primary passion of your life? What do you dream about when you give yourself time and permission to dream?
4. Of the experiences you have had in the last five years, which ones have captured your imagination the most?
5. If you were guaranteed that success and money were not an issue, what would you do with your life?
6. Do you feel trapped, or is there fulfillment in what you do? Can you see yourself there for the long-term or even for the rest of your life?
7. When you look at how you are investing or have invested your time, energy and giftings, is this the best use of who you are? Is this as good as it gets for you?
Kingdom Investment of Your Life
It is important that, once you have discovered the particular gifts and abilities that God has given you, you examine whether you only use them to enjoy them or if you use them in ways that bring glory to Him.
1. Have you figured out how to take the best of who you are and invest it in God’s kingdom in such a way that it reproduces dividends that last for an eternity?
2. Do you intentionally look for ways to take those gifts and abilities and use them in a way that other people can benefit from?
3. Are you confident in taking the best of what God has given you and using it as widely as possible, or do you simply use it in formats that are comfortable for you?
4. Do you see ways that God would like to use you that you don’t feel confident doing now?
5. Are there times when you know that you’re supposed to do something but don’t have the courage or want to take the time to do it?
6. If you could be given one or two things that would help you take the best of who you are and invest it more completely, what would it be? Do you need courage, confidence, education, financial resources, empowerment or someone to walk you through the process? Do you need a mentor, friend or spiritual director? Do you need someone to pray with you and listen to you?
7. Think through any limitations that hold you back from investing the best of who you are. Begin to address those.
8. Interview several other people. Ask them ways they have seen God use you. Why did He use you in this way? Did it happen just once, or is there a pattern? Don’t overlook old friends, members of churches you have attended, family members and ministers you have known. They can help you with this.
Calling: Clarification, Leading, Direction
There are three different types of calling. The first type is the general calling to be holy as God is holy and to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s a general sense of leaving what you have to follow Christ completely. The second kind of call comes to specific people, such as the disciples of Jesus, who were called to leave their locations and their livelihoods to follow Him completely with their time and receive financial support for their sustenance. The third kind of call is a very specific one of which there are plenty of examples in the Bible: See the stories of Moses, Samson, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Saul of Tarsus. These individuals were singled out. They were often told that they had a purpose from before their birth. Their whole lives’ purpose was to fulfill a particular destiny or calling that God had for them. Be careful about assuming that this third type of call is normative. It does still happen today, but if we only have a dozen or so examples recorded in the Bible, then we know that their occurrence is somewhat limited.
The key aspect of calling is clarification. Am I being called by God to follow Him with the totality of my life? Or is it also with the totality of my time, whereby I leave my current vocation and take on a ministerial vocation where I am paid by kingdom finances and resources?
A second aspect of calling is leading. One can have multiple leadings over his or her lifetime, all which will fit under some kind of vocational ministry. For example, I know a man who has been a pastor, a missionary, a supervisor of a thousand missionaries, a denominational executive, a college professor, dean and president and ultimately, president of a denomination. Those are not different callings, but rather different leadings under one calling.
A final aspect is direction. Direction is, “Where do I live this out? What are some concrete ways to live out my sense of calling and leading?” For example, if I am called to follow God completely and I am led to be a teacher, is God going to lead me in the direction of working with children, youth or adults? Is my work going to be spiritual development or also educational and academic development? Is it going to be at a college level or a graduate level? Is it going to be here in the United States or is it going to be overseas? Is it going to be in the urban core or is it going to be in suburbia or someplace in the heartland? As you look at your life, it is significant to clarify issues of calling, leading and direction.
1. Do you have a clear sense that God is leading you to resign from your career in order to
use the full extent of your time and energies in serving Him?
2. If everyone is called to follow God completely, do you have a sense that He is asking you to follow Him with the totality of your life? Are you also convinced that you would do that best by giving Him the totality of your time as well?
3. Do you have a sense that God wants you to stay in your career or location and continue to serve Him? Or are you to leave behind that career or location and receive financial support from kingdom monies in order to follow Him completely with your time as well as your life?
There are a number of assessments that are helpful in determining a job or career. A popular book written to help in this area is What Color Is Your Parachute? by Nelson Bolles. A detailed career assessment tool called IDAK is also extremely useful in helping you discover for what career or job you are most suited. (An IDAK assessment will take you approximately eight to ten hours.) Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What do I fantasize about?
2. What is my dream job?
3. What will bring me the most fulfillment?
4. How do I invest my life in a way that it counts the most?
5. What are the outcomes of my life that I want to celebrate?
6. When I’m old and sitting on a porch in a rocking chair, looking back over my life, what do I want to have the greatest memories about?
7. When I near the end of my life, what will I wish I would have explored and gone for that I hesitated about and didn’t pursue?
8. What can I do in life that brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, satisfaction and peace that also makes a difference in the kingdom?
(Part 2 of 3)