It’s every person’s conscious belief that their existence on earth must have some meaningful purpose. I am yet to hear, convincingly, someone declaring their existence as a purposeless mistake. Unless such despondency is expressed in the context of one’s hopelessness, due to the unbearable pressures in life. Sadly, it’s such despondency in life that has led some to give up and choose to take their own life. This is always a very unfortunate development. There’s a better way!
Let me encourage someone that, in spite of the sometimes challenging circumstances in life, you were created, and you exist, for a special and unique divine purpose, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps. 139:14). Discovering that overarching purpose of your life will help you successfully navigate the path of life, and consequently, break into your life’s purpose.
Saul, who later was called Paul, a former member of Israel’s legislature called the Sanhedrin, the highest Council of the Jews, experienced a rediscovery of his purpose in life. According to the biblical account in Philippians 3:12-15, Paul shows us that even though he may have successfully served in Israel’s legislative branch of government, he eventually rediscovered the core and special purpose of his life, which required him to consider two important factors:
- The numbing effects of contentment over past achievements
The first important realization Paul had was that, even though he had been a very successful and highly qualified member of the highest council in Israel, and had observed the requirements of someone considered to be a respected teacher of the law, a Pharisee of Pharisees, he says, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” (Phil. 3:13b). The words to note here are “behind” meaning the past; and “ahead” meaning the future. I call this “the battle between one’s past and their future possibilities.”
Change experts have said that one of the major hindrances to accepting change, is a sense of contentment in the current status, or when someone has a deep desire to maintain the status quo. People have even resisted progressive or positive change, because they have certain factors in their current status that give them a sense of security. In order for someone to embrace positive change in their life, they ought to reach a state of discontentment and displeasure with their current status.
This principle applies almost to anything that will move from one state of quality to a better or improved quality. For a product that’s been on the market for a while, if not improved, it begins to lose its appeal or luster. Therefore, manufacturers continue to seek for ways to improve their products. Manufacturers ought to reach a high state of discontent with the current quality of their products, in order for them to come up with better and improved quality products.
One thing for sure is that in life, we are always moving out of our past and are ever entering into our future. The question to answer is whether our inevitable and unstoppable progression from our past into our future, is considered a change for the better.
I once was a young boy, who graced the tough streets of a high density compound called Kamuchanga, in Mufulira, Zambia. Today, I am a grown man, a husband, a father of three grown sons, and now a grandfather. This is definitely moving out of my past and ever entering into my future, which continues on and on, until the Lord calls me home. The question I have to ask myself is whether my life’s movement from my past into my future is characterized as being lived in my core purpose or it’s been a life of stagnation, while biologically and existentially moving in time.
Going back to Paul’s personal experience, he rediscovered his core purpose, firstly by properly realigning himself with his Creator, God, whom he served based on incomplete understanding. In his new life’s foundation of faith in God, through Christ Jesus, with enlightened understanding, he uncovered his life’s purpose as an apostle to the gentile world. Paul, armed with his new perspective in life, based on his personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, he realized that with his accomplishments as a superbly qualified member of the Jewish highest council, and an ardent Legal advocate of Judaism, he needed to untangle himself from that past contentment and delve or reach into his newly discovered purpose in Christ. He decided not to be proudly held back by what he had so far considered his hallmark of being a great Rabi and an accomplished Pharisee. He was now going to press forward and break into his God-ordained purpose in life.
- An unrestrained forward-movement into life’s purpose
Paul resolved, “…straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” (Phil. 3:13c-14a). Something in this man who had much to boast about, “…if anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless,” (Phil. 3:4b-6), resisted the temptation to be stagnated by such past accomplishments. He reached forward, and pressed toward the goal he had discovered for his life in Christ.
Let me hasten to allay some general concerns. I am no proposing a disdain and dismissal of one’s past or even current achievements in life. We are and should be inspired by our past achievements, but should fervently be ever striving for better things ahead, as we live out our purpose in life, as God intents for us to be.
This kind of perspective or life’s attitude, which celebrates past or current achievements, but is never completely content with the now, but reaches for improved and better prospects ahead, through God’s help, to become what God has purposed for one’s life, defies numbing effects of being fixated on past achievements.
For your business or career to improve, you need to vigorously break beyond the familiar. It’s the familiar that will keep you satisfied with the status quo; and inevitably robe you of the possibilities that are in your future.
The above reference to Paul’s resolve to press toward his future prospects and possibilities in Christ, was his point of departure into the great successes of his latter life, that at the end of his life, he was able to affirmatively say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
Here are some few closing thoughts:
- Fear of the unknown has stolen many great dreams of future possibilities.
If Abraham had feared attempting to follow his new prospects in life, history would not have recorded him as the father of the faithful, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11:9).
- Contentment with the status quo has closed doors to future successes.
If Moses, who was magnificently blessed as royalty in Pharaoh’s Palace, had remained satisfied with his status as a Prince, which was an enviable position; Israel would have remained in slavery to the Egyptian Government. But he became the liberator of Israel, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).
- What will others say about you and your life after you have passed on from this earth?
- Most importantly, what will God say about you when you have finished your earthly pilgrimage?
Thanks Bishop. I enjoyed reading this post. Letting go of our past accomplishments may be the key that opens us up to new possibilities in God. Becoming sensitive to the unfolding future to which God is calling us certainly requires us to yield ourselves and at the same time anticipate a newness to manifest.
Very inspiring and practical teaching on change management and living purposefully.
Good message and I can attest to this, “The question I have to ask myself is whether my life’s movement from my past into my future is characterized as being lived in my core purpose or it’s been a life of stagnation……” Standing before Him will I be able to answer, “Yes” when He asks me if I have been faithful in fulfilling the core purpose of my life. The last days are very dynamic, very fast, and explosive. If not careful, we find ourselves running many races because we fail to balance up our core purpose. Is what we have achieved or gained, part of our core purpose, will it remain when tested by fire? Thanks for the message.
Powerful message full of pragmatic ways to help somebody step into their God given purpose.
Profound message on purpose living!