What are you living for?
Last week I had a conversation with one of my work colleagues. We were talking about what we would do with our free time if we didn’t have to work for a living. My friend is quite athletic and told me that he would love to spend more time coaching kids.
All of us need a sense of purpose to give meaning to our lives. You don’t have to be a person of faith to recognize this – it’s a commonly accepted principle of psychology. People who have a clear sense of vision and purpose are happier and more productive than those who have no vision. Having a vision helps us to stay on track. As the well-known proverb puts it, where there is no vision the people perish – perhaps more accurately rendered where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained. Effective youth leaders and wise parents understand that a positive vision is far more effective than rules in helping young people stay out of trouble.
For people who do not see themselves as accountable to God, it would seem that any vision will do. One vision is as good as the next – it’s really up to you. Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes. But my life doesn’t belong to me, since I have surrendered control of it to Jesus Christ. Actually it never belonged to me in the first place – the whole idea of freedom outside of God is an illusion. We can only be free when we have yielded control of our lives to Him, and that’s the only context in which we can discover the true purpose of our lives.
My friend has a vision for his life. It’s a good vision as far as it goes. Working with kids is very important. But kids need mentors who can not only have fun with them and teach them practical skills, but also lead them to God and help them discover their eternal value and purpose in a relationship with Jesus. Playing on sports teams, as valuable as it can be for developing physical fitness, teamwork and perseverance, can never replace this.
We all need a vision for our lives, but a vision that doesn’t take account of God’s call on our lives is inadequate. My friend might indeed be designed by God to coach and mentor kids. Quite likely his desire to do this is an expression of gifts and abilities that are part of his God-given makeup. Even so, unless this purpose is surrendered to God and seen in light of God’s overarching purpose for all of creation, my friend will ultimately be missing the boat. He may do many good things – excellent things, even – and still miss the ultimate point of his life, which is first and foremost to be a lover and worshipper of the Most High God who made him. Every other purpose in our lives must be surrendered to this one and take second place to it, otherwise the whole house will eventually come tumbling down. In the timeless words of King Solomon of Israel, unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Jesus’ own words were even stronger : What good is it to gain the whole world and forfeit your soul?
Some good questions to ask ourselves :
- What’s my vision?
- Have I surrendered it to God? ( Is it his vision or mine? )
- Is it consistent with the way God has made me and the gifts He has given me?
- How does it fit into His overall Kingdom purposes?
- How am I walking it out?
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NOTE to City Church small group leaders – I’ve included this post in the Small Groups category because it could function as a useful discussion topic in small groups.