Archive for the ‘Passion and Purpose’ Category

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“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.” Sound familiar? Powerful words. How clever of Walt Disney to realize and capitalize on the power of our wishes and desires! Perhaps he knew the power of our dreams firsthand, I think he had a few of his own… Soon enough we grow up and realize that it is not enough to simply wish on a star, that our actions help determine our future, our actions mixed with a little bit of faith, luck, providence, whatever term you prefer, is what we believe will fulfill the desires of our hearts.

If you can confidently say that you can see where you want to go and you are moving toward the dream that is in your heart, then you know that you are a dream pursuer. However, if you are like most of the world, there is something you want that you don’t yet have. Not only do you not yet have it, but you seem to be far from the road to getting there. You may not even know what that something is, but it is gnawing inside of you when you wake up and when you lie down. The greater visibility and significance of your dream, the more likely you are to feel this way, because you feel so far from where you feel you are meant to be. This is the plight of the dream sick.

People who are dream sick lead often perpetuate their own state and lead others down a similar path. You see, it is very hard to see possibilities in others when you doubt that there is anything worthwhile in yourself. When you are in a constant search for validation from others, you tend not to see and make room for others in their own search. Your greatest hope of getting out of this state is that your frustrations will cause you to be willing to take a risk, to get a strategy, and to make a change.

There is a secret that many successful people have realized. The path to their own happiness is found in the relentless search to make many other people happy. Now don’t stop reading here. The second part is equally important. They cannot make many other people happy unless they know who they are and can describe and pursue the greatest gift that they offer the world.

Knowing who we are and what we have to offer is no simple question to answer. It requires much soul searching, prayer, and even some divine intervention. It takes people along our paths to help get us there. When we realize that people are our path, we have to learn how to develop rapport with people, lots of people, in order to share who we are with them and so they can share who they are with us.

So often, we see people one dimensionally. When you see a person one dimensionally, you unconsciously say to yourself, “This person needs what I have,” without one thought that they may have something you need as well. On the other hand, you may see someone else in a one dimensional way by saying, “I need what this person has,” without the thought that you may also be able to contribute to the life of this person in some way. Relationship is, by definition, a process of give and take. Even if all you ever do is buy someone’s book, you are contributing to the life of an author in some way. A mutual give and take is the only healthy way to build a relationship, build a life, and build a dream. You may think that you give and take, but you may be grossly underestimating what you can take or what you can give, or maybe even both. Dream pursuers are learners, headed down the path of getting it right in this arena.

Part of my dream is helping others to realize their dreams, which is why I developed the Passion and Purpose Guide that you can find on this blog site. This guide helps people define who they are at this season of their life. However, defining who you are will mean nothing unless you can help others define who they are. Anything of value you bring to the world will help serve this purpose: whether it is creating your own line of handbags, selling ice cream, writing books, or parenting. When we interact with others we are helping them define what is important to them. Even the commercials you watch on TV are attempting to help you define who you are. By all means, get what you need to define who you are so that you can stop holding your gifts back from others. Then, when you are not holding back who you are, you’ll be less likely to hold someone else back from who they are.

I’d love to hear where you are on this journey!

To my email and blog subscribers, I just want to say thanks. Especially to those who have encouraged me… You keep me writing!

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As you begin to dream, you increase your ability to dream bigger, in concentric circles. It is important that you can dream on all levels. We need to have a dream for our own character, but we also need to have a dream for our families, our workplaces, our regions, and our world. Check out these levels of purpose and see whether or not you are stuck in each one.

Levels of Purpose

1. Purposes that affect only me.

2. Purposes that affect only me and my closest loved ones.

3. Purposes that affect my church or workplace.

4. Purposes that affect my community or field of expertise.

5. Purposes that affect my region, my country, and my world.

(You can either grow your influence geographically or based on the value you bring to a specific niche of people, or a combination of both.)

As you can see, when your dreams or purposes get bigger, the burden is on God to increase your realm of favor and influence. We need to have dreams that begin with ourselves. God cares about our own personal desires, but we also need to challenge ourselves to broaden our sights to the world around us. If we have eyes to see only ourselves, we will be stuck with vision that is too small for the destiny God intends.

Some ministries, like the people that lead them, tend to operate from a poverty mindset. This is a mindset in which there is only a fixed amount to go around for everyone. It results in the inability of leaders to build bridges from one ministry to another. So they fight and grab, infringing on the territory of another ministry. Leaders with a wealthy mindset do not feel the need to mark off their territory or keep their distance from others. They know that there are plenty of people and resources to go around. They have confidence in God’s ability to provide for them. Like Abraham who said to Lot, “you pick your first choice of the land,” was confident in God’s ability to protect his promise. No amount of human politicking or hoarding makes any difference when the king of the universe is on your side.

Here are some first steps toward vision sharing:

1. Find a vision to support that is bigger than yours.

2. Find individuals who share aspects of your vision and begin meaningful conversations with them. Invite them into your life and allow them input into your ministry. (I believe it is important to do this with people who are near to you geographically as well as those who are near to you in interests or philosophy.)

3. Find ways to use your influence to support the dreams of another. You can do this in many ways from social media to your conversations with others. Don’t waste your time tearing down the things that bother you. Rather, spend time building up the things you want to promote.

4. Practice 360 degree leadership (Courageous Leadership, Hybels). Extend your influence in all directions, leading yourself, leading your peers, leading subordinates, and leading your leaders.

5. Model good habits of collaboration: within your ministry, ministry to ministry, and ministry within ministry.

In your journey, you will encounter the following types of people.

1. People who will challenge your vision. Byron Easterling, in his book “Dream Big, Dream Often,” likes to call these people “black holes.” I have also referred to them as “passion suckers.” They always point out the negative and cannot get behind your vision or encourage it in any way. To hang out with these people on a regular basis would not be healthy. However, you can learn some of your weaknesses and blind spots from these people. So don’t ignore them, but be sure not to let them drain you of the energy you have to execute the vision God has implanted in you.

2. People who will fully support you and your vision. You must love these people and treat them with the highest respect. They are a gift of God to you, evidence of the favor of God on you. Listen to them, value them, give them what they need to make serving your vision a delight.

3. People who will ignite the spark of vision within you. People like this have a high level of excitement and are most likely going after their own dreams with gusto. Get around these people as much as possible and let their positivity rub off on you!

4. People who will give you invaluable input. These people have wisdom to help you see around the corners. They may have specialized knowledge in a specific field. They may be able to help you with fresh ideas or innovative strategies to getting around obstacles.

5. People who will share some aspect of your vision and lend strength to an aspect of your vision. These people will have valuable input, but who will also be more heavily invested in enacting your vision. Pay special attention to these people. Know them and their strengths well. Teach them to value each other and you will have a great team!

6. People who will help you to broaden your vision. There are visionaries out there who have learned to expand their minds beyond the borders of what you are able to see. Try to glean something from leaders like this. Even if the closest you can get to such a leader is by reading his or her book, take all that you can from them and allow them to challenge you to keep expanding your vision casting paradigms.

The more we wrestle through issues together, the more we talk and confer with one another, the more we allow others influence in our ministries, the better we are able to come together in unity and accomplish a worthy mission. We have to not fear conflict or change. We come together as powerful carriers of vision. Treat others as power carriers, as the royalty that they are. In this environment, we never need to force someone to get in line with our authority. Rather, we win the right to speak into people. We win the right to collaborate and affect the ministries of others. We grow in our ability to lead in all directions, 360 degrees.

Have you shared your vision with others? Have you begun to develop your Passion Community? Covenant with at least one person to invest in their vision as they invest in yours through prayer, through commitment, through friendship and through the support of one another’s gifts.

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5 NIV)

We are entering into a process. This is not something you formulate once and then are done. Your purpose expands, morphs, and gets revealed more and more as the days go by. We need wisdom to draw insight out of our own deep wells.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

This verse reminds us that our imagination serves the purpose of giving a target to God, a target that he will aim to exceed. The target moves as he fulfills his purpose for us each new season of our lives.

Many people speak of mission and vision as separate entities. There is validity to making sure that you know what you are called to, how you are called to do it, and why. I have found that so many people get confused and hung up on the different definitions of mission and vision that I’d like to replace that terminology with a simple, overarching, Purpose Statement. The goal of a purpose statement is to focus your life– to help you stay on the particular mission for which God has created you.

General Purpose Statements for All Believers:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

Knowing your general purpose is good, but knowing your specific purpose for this season of your life, helps you stay focused, encouraged, and engaged in it. If we only know our general purpose as believers, we will never step into the particular purpose God has waiting for us.

Jesus’ purpose statements:

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46 NIV)

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24 NIV)

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations. (Matthew 12:18 NIV)

Paul’s Purpose Statements:

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (Ephesians 3:8, 9 NIV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. (Romans 1:1, 5 NIV)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. (1 Timothy 2:5-7 NIV)

Identify the following elements in your Purpose Statement:

– A personal identity. This lets yourself and others become aware of who you are. What is a title you’d like for yourself? What defines you the best? Feel free to have more than one. (Examples: Resource Releaser, Culture Definer, Armor Bearer, etc.)

– An action. What is it you do when you are your most authentic self, operating in your gifts and strengths? (Examples: create wealth, design handbags, uphold leaders, etc.)

– A people group. To whom are you called? Is it a geographic location, an interest group, socioeconomic group, or other type of classification of people? Narrowing your focus here does not prevent you from ministering to others, it just helps you narrow your choices. (Examples: people of Springfield, athletes across America, other moms of preschoolers, etc.)

– An effect. What happens or would you like to happen when you do what you do best? How do you see yourself affecting others or the world around you? (Examples: sell coffee to people all around the state of Texas, produce a family of world-changers, help others to reach their potential in Christ, etc.

– A purpose or reason: Articulate the reason you do what you do. What high purpose keeps you going? (Examples: the glory of God, seeing other people set free from bondage of sin, creating opportunity and jobs for people)

I am a ……. (a name, title, or function)
Who …… (what is it that you want to do?)
For …… (who are you called to affect?)
To…….. (how are you called to affect them?)
For the purpose of…… (why are you called?)

Work on your purpose statement and pencil it in on page 22 of your Activate Discovery Guide. Go back through your book and look through your answers for clues to help you formulate your answers.

The reason you write it in pencil is because it is a living document. After it is written, it is ready to be tested. Go try out aspects of your vision. Try it out in different settings. See if you have the skills you need. Go talk to others who are doing something similar, glean valuable knowledge on what it takes to do what they do. Look for all the barriers and obstacles, not to discourage you, but to help you count the cost. You may find something different about yourself in the discovery process. So as you learn, refine your statement and let it guide you with new information. Use the questions below to get started.

Questions to Ask About Your Purpose Statement

– Does your purpose statement excite and focus you?
– Does it excite and envision others?
– Does it require faith?
– Is there a true need for what you want to do in the place you want to do it?
– Is it aligned with the passions of Jesus?
– Does it help you choose certain activities over others?
– Does it define who you are in Jesus?

You want your purpose statement to be personal and specific to you. You also want it to be measurable. If your purpose statement lacks measurable goals and indicators of success, you will never know if you have accomplished your purpose. It should allow someone who doesn’t know you to see it, sense it, and be compelled by it. You may need a friend or Activate Coach to help you crystallize your thoughts. As you show it to people in your Passion Community, they can help you do this.

What actions can you take to test your purpose statement right now?

Narrow down the actions to the three actions you can take that you feel the Lord leading you to take within the next three months. You can look through your answers to some of the questions in the book for hints the Lord may be giving you throughout this process. Record your commitment on page 23 of your Activate Discovery Guide and share it with your Activate Coach and Passion Community.

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If we are talking about developing a community of believers who are free to help each other move forward in their own personal passion and purpose, we must first consider what makes our passions different from people in the world. Please take some time to complete pages 20-21 of your Discovery Guide. We must consider the passions of Jesus. These passions help anchor us to truth.

Some Passions of Jesus:
– Intimate Relationship with the Father
– Carrying Out His Calling
– The Church, His Bride
– The Sheep of Israel (both lost and found)
– The Lost World
– Making Disciples
– The Poor, Weak, or Disenfranchised
– Setting People Free from False Religion

Can you think of any more passions of Jesus? All throughout scripture we see heroes of our faith who were impassioned by the passions of God. If you have the Holy Spirit within, likely your passions will be fueled by the Spirit of the one who is within. If you care nothing for the passions of Jesus, maybe it’s time you began a true relationship with him.

So, what is a Passion Community and how can we develop one? A Passion Community is a group of people with whom you share the pursuit of your purpose and passions.

Why do you need a Passion Community?

1. Faith comes by hearing, and speaking, the purposes of God over your life. If you have no one to share with, the dreams of your heart will only remain dreams.

2. Secondly, your dreams will never be realized in a vacuum. They will take shape and fully form in the soil of relationship. They may only be a vapor of imagination until others are able to breathe life into them with their thoughts and ideas. We must take care not to hoard our dreams for fear of losing them. It is when we share them and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in them that God can really move upon them.

3. Another important reason for a Passion Community is that intentionally pursuing people that are not normally in your group of friends will pull you out of some of your old, limiting habits. It can cause you to see things in a new light, getting you out of the rut of your usual mindsets. It helps protect us against “passion suckers” which can be old habits, old friends, old mindsets that have kept us stuck in a rut.

4. Having a Passion Community expands our knowledge in a way that nothing else can. In community we have access to books, understandings, connections, and a wealth of experiences that we could not have gained alone. When we share our dreams with those who are serious about their own, we are automatically more likely to follow through on what we have spoken. It’s easy to stay where you are when you have not made any indication to anyone that you might want more.

Who do you invite into your Passion Community?

The first thing we need to do is to know how to spot and attract “Passion Pursuers.”

Here are some telltale signs of Passion Pursuers.

– They are excited and energetic.
– They are unapologetic for what they are called to do.
– They make little of their own sacrifice in light of their calling.
– They ignite passion in others.
– They share some of the core passions of Jesus.

I hope and pray you can, not only find some of these people to influence your life, but become this kind of person to others.

There are some mindsets and beliefs that you need as you develop your Passion Community. These mindsets will attract Passion Pursuers and sustain your relationships with them. They help create a fertile atmosphere for dreaming and active faith.

Core Beliefs of a Passion Community
– There is more than enough (talent, resource, people, favor) to go around.
– We are more than foot soldiers, we are royalty.
– We all have unlimited access to the unmerited favor of God.
– God has the power to change our desires.
– We have the power to affect the heart and purposes of God.
– We have the responsibility to carry out our purpose with careful regard for the purposes God has for others.
– God does not do everything for us; there are some things we have to do.
– There are some things only God can do.

Do you wrestle with any of these mindsets in your own life?

Think about your responses when others share their dreams? Do you ever respond with these mindsets?

As you begin to think about people who should be included in your Passion Community, you can include the following types of people with their various functions:

1. People who encourage and believe in your dreams.
2. People who you encourage in their dreams.
3. People with whom you share on a mutual basis.

Ideally, numbers 1 and 2 will morph into a number 3 relationship in which the process of discovery is a mutual one. However, don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t always happen. Some are meant simply to have one role or another in your life, even just for a time. They are all important keys to us working together to discover God’s amazing adventure for our lives.

As you begin to have conversations and invite them into intentional community with you, let these principles guide you.

10 Commandments of a Passion Community
1. No ideas are shunned or mocked.
2. No obstacles are insurmountable.
3. Honesty is required.
4. Transparency is required.
5. Challenges are embraced.
6. Joy and peace are pursued.
7. The passions of Jesus are at the forefront.
8. Creativity is exercised.
9. Healthy relational boundaries protect relationships.
10. Everyone is responsible to take action on their own God-ideas.

Make it your goal to touch base with at least one of these people per week. When you want to accelerate your pace, do it more often and with more people. Don’t assume your purpose is not worth someone else’s time. Give as well as get and you will find that these could be some of the most rewarding relationships ever. Why don’t you make plans now to invite someone into your Passion Community?

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In order to get anything done, we need to actually change our behaviors. We need to become experts at turning ideas into strategies, and strategies into action. But how can we do this if we keep getting pulled in all directions by the circumstances in our lives? Now is a good time to pull out your Discovery Guide and complete pages 12-17.

Danny Silk encourages everyone to write down a list of 100 dreams. These dreams can range from desires that seem trite, to high and lofty pursuits. This is a very helpful exercise that helps us flex our dreaming muscles. This exercise has another psychological purpose. When we write down the intentions of our hearts, what we are really doing is prioritizing. If you have a desire to sing the national anthem at a sporting event, you will want to strategically put yourself in a position where this will be likely to happen. The logical thing will be to work on your singing and practice singing for other venues. Eventually someone will hear about you and ask you to sing the national anthem.

We never know when God will surprise us with an opportunity to live our dreams. My husband had this experience recently. About 4 years ago, we lived in another state and Jake wrote down his 5 year goals. He wrote things down that were very specific and way beyond what he thought would be possible. He even wrote down specifics about his job and how much money he’d earn. At the time, he thought these goals were just dreams that, most likely, would not happen. Well, he found this piece of paper 4 years later and took it out. Every single one of those goals had come to pass… In detail! Even though he had forgotten it so long ago. It really encouraged us and others to get cracking on our next list!

Every hour of every day we are presented with opportunities. Each time we say yes to one thing, we say no to many other things. Every time we say no to things we are making a statement about our priorities. When we say that we don’t have time, what we are really saying is that we choose not to make this activity a priority in our lives right now. We have so many good things that are vying for our time these days. Our choices today are complex. For this reason, we need to hone our prioritizing skills.

Steven Covey explains a very important principle in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We can choose to attend one of four types of activities at any given moment of our lives.

1. The Urgent and Important
2. The Urgent but Not Important
3. The Important but Not Urgent
4. The Unimportant and Not Urgent

Think about these categories very carefully. Where do you spend much of your time? Are you a chronic time waster on number 4? Are you a stress junkie spending all your time in number 1? Are you spinning your wheels stuck in number 2? Or are you a rare gem of a person who has learned to harness number 3? Of course we cannot spend all our time in any one of the categories, but for most of us, learning to spend more time on what is important to us is a major step in the right direction. You see, if you begin spending more time on the things that are important, less and less will become urgent, because urgent problems will be headed off and avoided all together.

I encourage you to organize your life around your priorities. Discuss them with your loved ones. Create time and space for those things. Eliminate or seriously slash your time wasters. Refuse to become a slave to the “urgent” all the time. Someday the end of your life will come and you will not be able to delay it. Your legacy will be a culmination of the choices you’ve made. You want to create a life that reflects your core values, your passions, who you were made to be. Living from that place is living an authentic life, it is a place of joy and strength. It will take some level of discipline to achieve this kind of life. But discipline is on your side. It will lead you to some of the highest pleasures in life, pleasures that will slip by those who refuse to embrace the discipline along the way.

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Treat your roles and responsibilities as a treasure to be stewarded rather than a duty to be performed. Roles that God assigns you are surprise gifts from the Lord. Roles that you choose are gifts that God has agreed with you to give you. They are all gifts that come with responsibility attached, kind of like your first pet.

Roles are the identities you take on according to specific life seasons. Some of these roles last just a little while. Others last an entire lifetime.

Look at your current roles, find the role you tend to want to minimize in your life and think about the treasure in that role, and the reward that your investment will procure.

Here’s an example:
Role of Mother: children are the treasure
Rewards: a hope filled future full of rich relationships, possible grandchildren, a legacy, heavenly rewards

This will help you keep your eyes on the prize. You can endure a lot more, when you do this. Write down at least one thing you want to be, but maybe haven’t arrived at that identity shift quite yet. It is most likely the one that you have a hard time admitting in front of others. The “What are my current life roles?” section is on page 9-11 of your Discovery Guide.

Since these roles are seasonal, we need to consider the seasons we are in. We learned that there are seasons of permission and seasons of assignment, right? Well, here are a few more seasons and the questions we need to be asking ourselves in each. Transitions are simply moving from one state of being to another. It is the process of change. Change is the only thing we can be sure of. Change can be good or bad. Any time we experience change, we want it to be Godward.

How are you stewarding your current roles?

You may be in a time of transition in which you are between roles, deciding to pick up a new role or discard an old one. These transitions come either by choice or circumstance. If you think you may be facing a transition, take a minute to refer to my article on 5 Types of Transition now.

5 Types of Transition

In the world, we feel as though we have to meet our own needs. In God’s kingdom, he wants us to trust him to provide for our needs in these areas. In every transition there is a test to see how we are going to get our needs met. Are we going to trust God and cooperate with him, or are we going to attempt to do it ourselves?

Consider Abraham: He was about to enter a critical life transition, so God put him to the test, just like he did with Jesus, just like he does with everyone. Take a look at Genesis 22. Do you see how God needed to reveal himself to Abraham as Provider? I think that this understanding of God as Provider is just what we need when consider our life roles and transitions. God as Provider goes way beyond mere finances. We must understand that he wants to provide for all of our life needs.

It is obvious when God is providing. We will know because our needs are met. We become frustrated when we either deny our own needs or try to provide for our own needs. During each life transition, he is showing you a new aspect of himself and of yourself. We tend to get stuck in a longer transition if we don’t see what he is trying to get us to see. You can accelerate your transition through discipline, willingness to change, and focus.

Now I am going to share with you a list of some of our basic categories of human needs. If we are not getting our human needs met, we can be hung up on a need we have and not move forward. This model has been adapted from the popular Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. God promises to be the Provider of every need we have. Take out your Bible and take a look at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 and Psalm 23. In these passages we find that God knows our needs.

Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1 NIV)

Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11 NIV)

God cares about the money in your bank account, the food in your fridge and the clothing on your back. He is our Provider in the most literal sense.

Biblical Example: the widow about to die of hunger, she baked a loaf for the prophet instead of herself and found God’s continuous provision in her cupboard.

2. Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:13 NIV)

Biblical Example: David trusted God to keep him safe from his enemies and from harm and preserve his life for God’s purposes.

3. Belongingness and Love needs – work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23:6 NIV)

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NIV)

Biblical Example: Ruth was given a new husband and adopted into the family of God.

4. Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Biblical Example: Joseph trusted God to exalt him rather than trying to exalt himself. In the end, he was highly exalted.

5. Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning, etc.

He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3 NIV)

Biblical Example: Solomon sought supernatural wisdom from the Lord and the Lord answered his prayer extravagantly.

6. Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, (Psalm 23:2 NIV)

Biblical Example: David sought the glory of the Lord in the beauty of his temple, his son Solomon got to be the one to build it. Jesus said, “The pure in heart will see God.”

7. Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. In other words, “self-actualization” is man’s attempt to define the “abundant life” of which Jesus promises.

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:3, 5 NIV)

Biblical Examples: Peter really expressed this need when he stepped out on the water with Jesus. Though he was weak, God met him and made him one of the pillars of Christianity.

8. Transcendence needs – helping others to achieve the good life.

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NIV)

Biblical Examples: Paul had this desire when he expressed his desire to depart from the earth and be with the Lord, except he would go on living for the sake of others who needed him as a spiritual father. “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Which one or more of these needs hits a nerve for you?

Have you been looking to God for the Provider of these Needs or how might you begin?

Do you tend to place your expectations to high or too low in your respective roles?

Take time to pray about each role. How does God want you to adjust your expectation level in each role?

Have you communicated your expectations to the key players in your life? Are you able to set proper boundaries? How do others’ understanding of expectations affect how you behave?

Do you have access to any life options you are ruling out right now merely because your mind is closed off to certain possibilities?

Welcome to Passion and Purpose, part 4. For the workbook, follow this link.

Delight is very important to God. He created all things just so he could sit back on the seventh day and take delight in all that he had made. In God is the highest form of delight. He is the author and initiator of all pure delights from the taste of food to the enjoyment of sexual union. Only by running to our Creator will we find the delight for which we were created. We were created to rule and to reign. We were given this authority from a place of delight and intimacy, rather than a place of struggle and strife. So these days we can have strife in our pursuit of the legitimate desire he gave us to have influence, power, understanding, and significance. But if we go the route of intimacy and childlike delight, we can have access to the influence, power, understanding, and significance that is God’s to give. Interesting how intimacy breeds power– not what you’d expect. When we try to seek it through strife, or through your own strength, that’s when we lose.

Some people take great delight in home decor, others take great delight in the outdoors or some creative pursuit. Still others take delight in the hustle of a demanding, but rewarding career. God is a great collaborator. Not only does he communicate with his three person self to create new things, he collaborates with inferior beings like us. There are so many things that God is interested in, it takes the whole of human kind to fulfill his desires. And one of his desires is that his creation have desires of their own! God doesn’t sit there with a master plan and try to give you coordinates along the way to make you go his way.

Take a little time to read the following amazing Bible passages to learn about the ways in which God collaborates with his people.

The Sovereignty of God does not rule out our role as powerful agents of change in heaven and on earth.

– Moses actually changes God’s mind. (Exodus 32:9-14)

– Joshua asks God for a little more time. (Joshua 10:4-14)

2. God created us in his image, which means that he is not the only one who gets to be creative. He wants us to understand the essence of creating, from a place of passion and delight. When we uncover the dreams in our heart and begin to articulate them, we ignite the creative/divine spark that is in us all.

– Adam named the animals whatever he wanted.

– Jehoshaphat: (2 Chronicles 20:15-30) had this great idea of sending the singers out into battle first, and God thought that idea sounded really cool, so he made it work.

– Solomon: (1 Kings 3:4-15) told God what was on his heart, could have asked for love, there was more than one right answer. I think God would have been disappointed if he said, well God, what do you want me to have?

3. God is not a strict pragmatist, but an extravagant artist. He is a craftsman who expresses himself with emotion as well as incisive skill. You can notice from the natural world that some things he creates simply for the delight of it, not because it is absolutely necessary for the functioning of the world. He does not need a reason beyond the fact that it delights him to create. He just can’t help himself because that’s who he is.

– The first record of God pouring out his spirit was on an artisan, Bezalel. Maybe because the first thing God loves to do is to create. (Exodus 35:31)

– The Woman at Jesus’ Feet: (Matthew 26:6-13) went out on a limb to express her love to Jesus, Jesus was surprised and touched by the expression because it looked just like something his Father would do, something from pure passion and extravagance

– Why did God heal all ten lepers? Because they deserved it? Hardly. Only one came back to thank him. Because he wanted to teach them a lesson? Not necessarily. He didn’t chase them down to teach them a lesson. Because he wanted to? Absolutely.
How many other things did he do just because he wanted to? Many of them went unrecorded.

4. We are often taught to be good and obedient, but God loves it when we take action to fight for our passions.

– Jacob wrestles with the angel for his blessing, Esau was apathetic and he was forever cursed.

– The Centurion: (Matthew 8:8-13) Jesus was fully prepared to go to his house to perform a miracle, but the Centurion man thought out of the box, beyond the realm that Jesus was even expecting.

– The Woman with the Issue of Blood: she used an unconventional method to get her healing.

– The Woman Jesus called a Dog (Matthew 15:22-26): this lady was didn’t even care about being called a dog. She pushed Jesus to respond.

– A Wimpy Prophetic Act (2 Kings 13:14-19) God gave this man an answer in accordance with the level of the passion he demonstrated.

So how do we know if we are acting out of presumption or even rebellion?

– When we willfully disregard a direct order from the Lord, especially by the revealed Word of God. (Saul doesn’t kill all, David counts the men)
– When we refuse to seek God for major decisions in our lives or when our habit is not to seek him, but to seek our own counsel. (when Israel did not inquire of the Lord)
– When our attention is diverted from the glory and heart of God.

When God impregnated Mary, he allowed her DNA to be expressed through the man, Jesus. Her humanity was expressed every bit as much as God, the Father’s, divinity was expressed through Jesus. Sometimes we forget that Jesus was also fully man as he was fully God. What a beautiful mystery! This is how it is when God places desires on our hearts. In the beginning conception stage it can seem as though he wants it more than we do, other times it seems that we are pushing his hand. Regardless of who initiated the dream, there is a moment in heaven where it was conceived. From that moment, God has begun his creative miracle in you. Because each dream is so different, they have different incubation periods, but each one is a product of desire and of faith.

The difference between a divine purpose and a human purpose is that a divine purpose can only be accomplished with the favor of God of your life. A human purpose requires no faith. Human purposes are always too small. However, God can use even a feeble human purpose on your journey to a divine purpose.

Why are we scared of collaboration with God? Why would we rather have step by step marching orders? Because it implies that we have to take some measure of responsibility for its activation as well as the faith that God will meet us at our point of need. Divine dreams require new levels of skill and faith than ever before. God holds both you and himself responsible for the outcome.

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Welcome to part three of Passion and Purpose. For the companion workbook, click here.

Please take the the “Where Am I Today?” Quiz if you have not done so already.

Your personality and past play a part in whether you tend toward frustration or fear in your pursuit of your calling. Some of us, like myself, tend toward frustration. We are generally the type to forge ahead without fearing what may come. We usually get easily excited and sometimes don’t look before we leap. Our strength is that we treat fear as though it is a game. Sure we have some fears like anyone, but we tend to treat them as we should, not very seriously. Our weakness may be that we lack the discipline to keep going after the excitement fades, to sharpen our skills until they shine, or to build a solid character.

Others are more like my husband who naturally tends toward fear. These people approach life with more caution. They tend to be a little tentative when talking about their dreams. It’s not that they don’t have dreams, but they need a little more attention and coaxing to find out what they have inside. These people often get overlooked because they don’t flash their gifts for attention. However, amazing gifts are lying often untapped inside these people. They take the time to hone their skills. They are patient and reliable.

Regardless of which weakness you may lean toward, it is good to be aware of it, so that you can conquer it. Though personalities may lean toward these weaknesses, this assessment is no personality test. This test is meant to clue you in on any fears or frustrations you may have inside so that you can throw them off and run, without fear or frustration, the race marked out for you. If you landed in the fearful and frustrated column, you have a little more soul searching and prayer to do. If you landed in the fearless and focused quadrant, you may just be ready to get going on partnering with others for the next steps. If you land somewhere in the middle, don’t get confused or think you are hopelessly flawed. I would just suggest answering the questions for all quadrants, except possibly, the fearless and focused quadrant. Remember, the point is not to peg you, but to lead you to the answers that will uncover what is inside your heart. I challenge you to answer every question honestly before God. Don’t rush the process. Questions can lead to understanding and understanding can lead to freedom. The best insights you will gain from this process is most likely the insights you and God will have together as you take this journey.

We all could use a little more detail on the finish line. It helps us run our race with more passion. So, what exactly will be accomplished if I move from Fear to Fearlessness? First of all, fearless people cover more ground. You have heard of, or maybe even met, one of those relentless salespeople that are not deterred by rejection. They just keep going door to door, phone number to phone number, handshake to handshake, believing that if they keep going, someone will surely hear what they have to say. Rejection is not appealing to any of us, but the ones who have learned the secret of ignoring their fears of rejection have something extremely valuable. Robert Kiosaki brilliantly asserts that those who are the most successful are also the most rejected. Think about it: politicians, actors, artists, people who take a stand. We see them as high and mighty, but think of the times they were denied, the times they were criticized, the level of scrutiny they constantly endure. Living a fearless life means that we are able to accept rejection as a natural part of life.

The amazing thing for believers is that we are always accepted by Someone. That Someone counteracts all the other little someones. So we take ground, we move at an accelerated rate, we take our losses in stride, we apologize when necessary and move on. Don’t get stuck in fear. When you start treating your fears as they are– less than you have blown them up to be, you may just find them retreating into oblivion. Like Joyce Meyer says, “Do it afraid.” Pretty soon you will no longer be afraid.

Fear has to do with punishment. God is not trying to punish you. Jesus took the punishment once for all. God is not like our earthly dads. No matter how great your dad was, our Heavenly Dad is far better! You cannot dream big dreams when you are afraid of God punishing you. Any time he even corrects you, it is because he wants what is best for you. And you may just have to take my word on this, but what is best for you is also something you’re gonna love! He created you. He loves you. Why would a God like this do any less for his kids?

Bible Characters who modeled Fearlessness: Jacob, Joshua, Caleb, David, Peter

So on the other side of this coin, is moving from Frustration to Focus. Some of us run around trying to expand our territory, but we don’t take time to sharpen our swords. This is where we need patience with ourselves. No, we might not get that paying guitar gig after two lessons, or even twenty. We cannot grow weary and give up in the pursuit of true excellence. If we are too lazy or unteachable, we end up in the trap of mediocrity. If we are too uptight and impatient with ourselves we end up in the trap of perfectionistic thinking. Neither paths get us to excellence, to the point where we are excelling in any sphere of life. Down these two dead end paths, we land at the same place, hopelessly limited. Here is a chart on how I am defining the pursuit of excellence versus perfectionism.

Link to Perfectionism Chart

Let me remind you that God is perfection itself, but his brand of perfection looks very different from our man-contrived perfection. So keep in mind, I am using this word in a negative sense, though I understand there is a positive way to use this word. The pursuit of excellence is really our acknowledgement that we are us and God is God. It seeks to incorporate an aspect of God in all that we do, in all that we are.

Focus is important on our journey to a destination. The closer you get to your destination, the more accurate your aim needs to be. So when you are exploring your options, you may be a little all over the map. But if you never get serious and get focused, you could end up like the perpetual college student. Focus is about knowing the things in your life that you are saying yes to and knowing the things that you are saying no to. Do you know that time is your only limited commodity? Usually we think of money as our only limited resource, but money can be made. Time exists in a fixed state. We can rearrange anything we want in those blocks of time, but the blocks never change. When you realize the control you have in the investment of your time, you will realize that you can stay focused if you are desperate for the results.

Both fears and frustrations will come, but it is what we do with them that counts. Don’t take your fears too seriously, at least not seriously enough to keep you from risk. And don’t get so frustrated that you quit prematurely. Don’t feed your frustration with laziness, perfectionistic attitudes, or a lack of self control. There is always a sense of slight frustration when you learn something new, but the joy that is waiting on the other side of the frustration is worth it. Whether it is learning a new skill, learning a new truth, or finally gaining freedom in a character flaw, hold on and press through to the other side!

Bible Characters who had Focus: Moses, Nehemiah, Solomon, Paul

Did you start your journey like a Gideon, who doesn’t know your purpose until God lays it in your lap through circumstance? Or are you more like Jacob who wrestles for the blessing? Look back at your chart. I’m guessing that Gideon was more on the fear side and Jacob on the frustrated side. It’s good to know that Gideon did not stay in fear and Jacob did not stay frustrated forever.

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Here is Part 2 of Your Activate instruction manuel. Pair this lesson with your Activate Discovery Guide, and you will be on your way to discovering your passion and purpose in Christ!

Let’s think back to the tower of Babel. This is what God said about the people who were operating apart from his spirit.

The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:6 NIV)

Wow, now if nothing would be impossible for them in a human type of unity, how much more can be accomplished with a spiritual unity? God reversed the curse of Babel when he poured out his Spirit at Pentecost. With it came new gifts and a new unity.

Motivational Gifts

The things you find yourself doing without a second thought. Romans 12:6-8

Prophesying
Serving
Teaching
Encouraging
Giving
Leading
Showing Mercy

My dad used to get irritated by producers in Hollywood who would flaunt the “producer” title, but had nothing to show for it. He would say, “So you’re a producer, huh, well then– PRODUCE!” That reminds me of this passage in Romans 12:6-8. Paul is saying, so you’re a leader, lead! You’re a giver, give!

We are called to excel in our gifts. There is plenty of biblical backing for the pursuit of excellence.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12 NIV)

How, then, can we be ignorant of the gifts God has given us?

Know your gifts, master your natural gifts and then go get some more!

The Fruit of the Spirit

The Fruit of the Spirit (evident in the life of all Spirit led believers): In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, when he introduces the gifts, he reminds believers that Love is more important than any of the gifts. Love is the overarching fruit of the Spirit. It is no mistake that our famous Love Chapter begins immediately following the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 6) is proof that any person is truly living by the Spirit. It is clear from scripture that a person can operate in the gifts, but not be living by the Spirit. When talking about the gifts, we must take care that the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced in our lives. Otherwise, the value of our gifts will be lost on us, we can be like resounding gongs or clanging cymbals.

Charisma and Doma

There are two words for gifts that are used in the Bible “Charisma” gifts and “Doma” gifts. The Charisma gifts or “grace gifts” are the ones that are available to every believer who has the Holy Spirit. The “Doma” gifts are actually people within the body of Christ that are especially set apart to be a gift to the body of Christ. Ever thought you were God’s gift to the church? You just might be. All believers can access Charisma, but only a few believers embody “Doma.” So think of your motivational gifts as dovetailing with either the charisma or the Doma gifting.

The “Charisma” or Grace Gifts “I access the gift.”
God grants access to all who desire and ask, for the empowerment of the work of the ministry. These gifts can only be accomplished by the supernatural empowerment of the Spirit. These are the tools we are given to advance the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

Wisdom
Knowledge
Faith
Healing
Miracles
Prophecy
Discernment
Speaking in Tongues
Interpretation of Tongues

This list is not completely exhaustive. Scripture uses the word “charisma” to describe everything from the free gift of God’s son to the gift of celibacy, but mostly for the gifts listed above. Therefore, we can conclude that charisma is the power to do anything that can only be accomplished through the power of God.

We are commanded to “stir up the gifts” when necessary, to practice them and become more excellent in them. They can be imparted by the Spirit through the laying on of hands or directly from God. These gifts can also present themselves when a person is filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Think of these gifts like weapons in your Holy Spirit arsenal. God put them in your go bag when he endowed you with the Holy Spirit, but you have to choose to pick them up and take the time to let him teach you how to use them. Don’t fear them, and don’t think you have to limit yourself to just one or two. You may have some favorites, but it is good to become familiar with all of them. You never know when you will need that particular weapon to do the job.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10, 11 NIV)

The “Doma” or 5 Fold Ministry “I am the gift.”
God chooses some to embody a gift as in the “office” of any one of the five fold gifts. You do not merely operate in the gift, but you are the gift. He committed some to these roles or “offices” for the express purpose of building up the body of Christ. It is as though he was saying, these people are a gift to my bride, the Church, so the church can accomplish the Great Commission. You can desire this role, but only God can appoint and commission you to fulfill any of these offices. Also, elders, full of the Holy Spirit, will recognize and impart a calling to any of the fivefold Doma gifts. People with a Doma calling should be prepared to sacrifice much for the cause of Christ and his Bride. They are called to lay down their lives for the church just as Jesus did. Therefore, those who desire such gifts should also desire to be a servant of all.

He gave “Doma” some to be….

Ephesians 4:11

Apostle
Prophet
Evangelist
Pastor
Teacher

1 Corinthians 12:28 gives a list of both Doma (overlapped from Ephesians) and Charisma gifts (overlapped from earlier in the chapter).

Apostle
Prophet
Teacher
Notice how the language of the text changes here when talking about the gifts.
Miracles
Healing
Helps/Service
Administration/Government
Tongues

Also, it should be noted that often the Apostle is marked by signs and wonders. Little is articulated about the role of the Apostle, other than that he or she is a “sent one.” Apostle Bill Pepper asserts that the Apostle has a little of each of the other five-fold giftings as equipment for the work of God. Twice God lists Apostles and Prophets among the most important of the Doma gifts. Similarly, the prophetic gifts are considered the greatest of the Charisma gifts.

The early writers of the new testament were trying to put words to the work that the Spirit of God was doing among them. It stands to reason that it is hard to put a finger on labeling each gift in a concrete way. **

Interestingly, the gift of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross was both a Doma and a Charisma gift. It was the gift of a person and a gift of divine power.

Regardless of how you interpret or label the gifts, the important thing to realize is that God gives a plethora of Charisma gifts by His Spirit which allows us to do things we could not do with natural power or skill. He gives these to each person as he sees fit. But he also sets apart a special anointing for those who are to be the Doma gift to the church as expressed through the five fold ministries. The Doma was never meant to do the work of the ministry for the Church, but to prepare her and strengthen her to do it herself through the power of the Charisma. For example, you could have a teaching gift, but an expression of the Doma anointing may result in teaching and reproducing other teachers in the Body of Christ.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6, 7 NIV)

Other Lifestyle Gifts We Are All Admonished to Have
Giving (2 Corinthians 8:7)
Hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)
Service (1 Peter 4:10)
Encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Mercy (1 John 3:17)
Sharing Testimony (Acts 22:15)
Discipleship (Matthew 28:19)
Using the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15)
Prayer (Ephesians 6:18)

Individuality and Unity

We have to be careful of “that’s not my gift syndrome.” If these gifts are available in the Holy Spirit for every believer, we are without excuse. The writers of the new testament are not telling us to do things that we are incapable of doing. They know that we are supposed to access the Holy Spirit for the empowerment to do them.

We focus on our strengths because it is smart to acknowledge the specific work he is doing in me. It is dumb for me to try to make myself into a cookie cutter shape because God doesn’t use cookie cutters. However, there are certain evidences of the Holy Spirit that will bond us together as a family and cause us to recognize each other. It causes the world to recognize us too. Just as you can recognize the differences and similarities within natural family members, so we should be able to recognize some commonalities among all believers even with all the different flavors that make us unique.

So, God is concerned with our individuality and the various wonderful expressions, but he is also concerned with our family and the elements that bind us together. You know you have a healthy view of your gifts if your gifts are pulling you towards other believers because you need them to work with and to learn from, rather than pulling you into an island of your own strength. We even need to be wary of only hanging around others with similar gifts. We can come together to be equipped, but then we should lend our gifts to others who lack our gift and then receive the gift that they bring which we need.

It is interesting how a true understanding of our individuality can lend itself to a powerful picture of unity. When we fully know ourselves and who we are individually, it will free us to pursue the individual strengths of others. We will be compelled to value others for what they offer the body. When we are fulfilled in what we do, it will cause us to stop navel gazing and look at the treasure laying inside others. No one may ever have cared to pull the treasure out of you, well God is giving you permission to pull it out yourself. After you have pulled it out, break the cycle of self pity and start pulling it out of someone else. I’m convinced that pulling treasure out of others is one of the most fulfilling things in all the earth.

Strengths and Skills

The Clifton Strengthsfinder is a very helpful resource to help you understand how your mind works and why you do the things you do. There are 34 different strengths, of which the test will show you your top 5. To read more about the strengths, I recommend the book, “Living Your Strengths.” This book will provide you with a test to take on your own, identifying your top 5 strengths. Your strengths will not dictate what tasks you will do well, but they will dictate the strength you bring to bear on a team or in any given situation. The point of finding our strengths is so that we place our focus on the strength we bring to the table, rather than getting stuck in the rut of trying to make ourselves fit some idealized standard of humanity, which really does not exist. We operate under the conviction that God loves our differences and wants to maximize our individual potential.

Skills are the particular tasks which come easily to us or at which we particularly excel. Skills can grow over time and develop with practice. The best strategy is to see your skill development through the lens of your strengths. If you can find a way to activate your strengths, you will excel more and more in the skills you desire.

Learn your motivational gifts and strengths by referring to page 5 of your Activate Discovery Guide.

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The following is part one of my Passion and Purpose Class I began teaching at my church. If you are interested in your purpose and uncovering your passions, download my Passion and Purpose guide posted here. Going through this Guide will help you come closer to knowing who you are and the purpose God has for you. Reading the blogs I post in the next few weeks will help guide you week by week in this process.

Our Journey begins here:

I am really excited that you decided to embark on this journey. My desire is that you will feel more free than ever to think big thoughts and dream big dreams with God. I hope that you will be able to hear him more clearly than ever before and play out your life’s calling on purpose. I pray that your frustrations would only point the way to your calling and that your fears would subside in the excitement of your purpose.

God, as a master artist, makes a beautiful story of your life. He speaks to you and to others between its pages. It is up to us to listen and to capture the language of God in our own life story. God speaks in so many ways. One of his favorite ways to speak is through metaphor. He uses it in the Bible, he uses it in our nightly dreams, and he uses it in the physical world and circumstances that surround us.

Screenwriters often spend years on the storyline of a movie. Character development, conflict, setting, all are essential pieces of a great story. Now think about how much time you put into your story. How much emphasis do you give to developing your character? Conflict is what makes a great story. Do you view your own life with as much optimism as you do with the characters you watch in a movie? Together we are watching the story of your life unfold and we are pulling for you. We believe that you are the protagonist. The cool thing is that in this story, you and God get to collaborate on the storyline. You get to write it together. (For more on this concept, see Donald Miller’s “Storyline.”)

Turn to the first section of your Activate Discovery Guide. Think about the experiences you’ve had in life. There is space here in your book to remember the events that were significant to you, especially God-moments you remember. Write a single line message that God was communicating to you in those moments. These are not simply events, they are life-altering moments in which you changed the course of your life according to something God has revealed to you. Don’t worry if you don’t have exactly five, just begin to think about the ways God has made himself real to you.

Good or bad, your past has helped shape who you are. God wants to redeem even a painful past in order to prepare you for the great things he has in store for you. We don’t want to allow our past to reinforce the lies we have believed, but we want to allow God to reveal truth through all your experiences. Ask him to help you distinguish truth from lies so you can move forward into your future.

There is a place to write themes of the past (positive or negative) and themes of the future (positive only). We want to bring the strength from the past to bear on our future, but we want to leave the deception behind. As you ponder your themes, think about the things you tell yourself, the thoughts you entertain, the direction you find yourself leaning toward. These are themes that tend to define you. Today is a day for intentionally redefining yourself based on the positive themes God has chosen for you. Ask him for the themes for this chapter in your life. You may even ask him to give you a scripture to direct your heart during this season.

Your story is important. The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. I find it interesting that God puts our story right up there with the blood of the Lamb. Pretty powerful stuff! To speak of what the Lord has done in your life is a powerful thing. It actually sets people free and gives us the power to overcome obstacles we thought were insurmountable. Open up your mouth and be free to declare the work of the Lord in you.

Dan McCollam points to the example in the life of young David, before he killed Goliath. He recounted all the ways that God used him to do amazing things (like killing a lion with his bare hands) before he took a shot at Goliath. So many times we tend to bring up all the negative things in our lives. We tend to play our “blooper reel” before trying something. No wonder we feel so defeated! Instead of pulling out your “blooper reel,” recall your “highlight reel.” Replay these highlights again and again and it will help build your faith for greater things to come! (You may want to stop now and make a list of the events that might be included in your highlight reel.)

If you have been in charismatic circles you may have received prophetic words from time to time. You may be someone who has puzzling dreams at night, or you may have even experienced a vision that you knew was from the Lord. Have you ever wondered how to handle such words? Am I supposed to do something with this? If so, how can I process this? Will this word come to pass no matter what I do?

If you have had any of these questions run through your mind, I encourage you to go through your notes at home in your journals or computers and take inventory of as many prophetic words, dream interpretations, and personal impressions from the Lord, as you can find. If you have nothing recorded, now is a good time. You will have to ask the Lord to bring things to the forefront of your memory. Begin to look for more themes, things that stand out over and over to you. Is God still trying to get a message through to you or speak a message through you that is yet unheard or unheeded? There will be some things that are still unlocked mysteries. That’s okay. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to seek it out.” We want to act like kings to seek out His mysteries. After all, he did make us royalty when he called us sons and daughters.

All prophecy is conditional. That means that when we get a word of the Lord, we are to process through that word, to wrestle with it, to contend for it, and to finally find rest in it. Remember how Jacob wrestled with God? Jacob was not about to let him go without a blessing. When we process prophetic words, it opens us up to the opportunity to get in the right line for the right blessing and to prepare our tents to receive it. If you receive a prophecy that seems overwhelming to you right now, it is because he wants to let you know ahead of time so you can get ready. Remember the word that God gave to the Pharaoh during the time of Joseph? Joseph was able to process that word so that he could get ready for the days ahead.

Blessings are a little like white elephant gifts. In ancient China, you would give a white elephant gift to a friend or an enemy. The white elephant was extremely expensive and rare. If the recipient of the gift was wealthy and had lots of space for the animal and could afford to feed it, the gift was wonderful. If, however, the recipient was poor and had no space and little food, the elephant could destroy what little he did have. It would be more of a curse than anything. Well, God promises us many blessings in prophetic words, but he does not give them to us until we are ready. If we were not ready for it, it would actually result in a curse. If your spiritual home is not enlarged with character, with faith, with relationship, or anything else you need, the blessing will not be beneficial.

This journey is also designed to help you with your leadership development or your disciple making capacity. We are all leaders to some degree. We are all called to make disciples. Leading yourself is one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, about leadership, experts are now concluding.

In “Courageous Leadership” Bill Hybels points out that 50 percent of your time as a leader should be spent in focusing on leading yourself. Here are some questions Bill pinpoints to help us grow in the art of self-leadership. Many of these questions will be addressed in our journey together.

Is my vision clear?
Is my passion hot?
Am I developing my gifts?
Is my character submitted to Christ?
Is my pride subdued?
Am I overcoming fear?
Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
Is my pace sustainable?
Is my love for God and people increasing?

Whether you are aware of it or not, the favor of God is at work in your life. It was even at work in you before you were saved. The areas in which God has opened up favor to you should not be ignored. He speaks destiny to us in the things in which he allows us to excel, the ways in which we are blessed. Some of our favor will have to be contended for or wrestled, in a sense. Other points of favor will be heaped upon us without a thought or prayer. He speaks to us through the internal passion he has put inside us and he also speaks to us from the way others respond to us.

Each person that ever listens to what you have to say, each person that sees anything of value in you, each person that wants to be in your presence or wants something you have is a gift of favor from God to you. Even events that happen “by chance” can be a sign of divine favor. The fact that you are reading these words of mine is evidence of the favor of God on my life. If God was not at work, why would anyone want to hear what this little girl has to say?

Favor is the measure of influence you have in the lives of others. Be thankful for the favor God has put on you, even if it expresses itself in ways other than what you would have chosen. For example, be thankful for anyone he brings to you, even those who don’t quite fit the mold of the people you would have chosen to attract. Be faithful with the measure of favor you have, serve others faithfully, and God will increase the measure of favor he has given you. He wants his people to be the most influential people on earth, but he wants us to handle that influence with grace and love. So he is happy when you ask for more. Our goal in asking for favor is that when people see our success, they will sit back and go, “Wow. How did that guy/girl do that or get that in his/her life? This could only be explained by the hand of of a pretty amazing God!”