Let Your S.H.A.P.E. Guide Your Role Within God’s Kingdom - Part 1

  1. Share
0 0

If you’re looking to participate in God’s kingdom story, forget about job openings that someone is trying to fill. Focus instead on the God-given shape that defines your role in life. 

When you do that, you will find the freedom to live your life (and career) within the grand purpose that God instituted for all of humanity at Creation. But more on that later. Let’s start with your S.H.A.P.E. 

S.H.A.P.E. (a concept originated by Erik Rees in his 2008 book of the same title) refers to your Spiritual gifts, Heart/passions, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. Doing a deep, honest self-inventory in these five areas helps you recognize how the things God gave you at birth (your abilities and personality), after you decide to follow Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit (your spiritual gifts), and through your life’s journey (your passions and experiences) make you the unique individual you are.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Let’s start with your gifts.

A lot of people confuse gifts with talents. Some people say, “I have the gift of music.” No, you may have a talent for music, but gifts are different. They’re spiritual abilities that God gives you when you receive the Holy Spirit, after you profess faith in Jesus. 

You can look up a lot of different spiritual gift inventories. But just start by reading and prayerfully meditating on Scriptures like Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. As an important follow-up, ask friends and family, “Does this describe me? What do you see in me?” They can help you inventory your traits in all five areas, but this is probably the most crucial one. 

HEART/PASSION and ABILITIES 

Where your heart/passions intersect with your abilities has a lot to do with your strengths and weaknesses. 

Marcus Buckingham (author of “StandOut” and other books) writes compellingly on this topic. Among his many insights, he points out that there are things you’re passionate about and things that you’re good at, which are often not the same. The things that you’re both passionate about and good at — those are strengths that you should hone and build up and focus on. The things that you’re passionate about but not much good at (playing guitar, for instance) or good at but not passionate about (organizing tasks) are probably weaknesses that you should keep as hobbies or not focus on at all. 

Many people (especially in the traditional missions world) have done things they’re good at but not at all passionate about, and they slowly die inside. Or they try to do things they’re passionate about but not any good at, and they constantly fail and wonder why. 

When you’re trying to discern what’s what in this area, do some honest reflection: What are things that give you energy? What gives you joy? What are tasks or topics that make you come alive? What are things that make you angry because they need to be fixed? 

Now, after you identify those things, where does your set of abilities fit in to meet them? Put another way, what are things you are objectively good at and enjoy doing? Engineering? Music? Teaching mathematics? Styling hair? Writing? You’re good at something (maybe a number of things). What can you do that intersects with what you care about? Ask God to reveal those things to you, and again, ask friends to help you sort them out.

PERSONALITY

Given our culture’s focus on all things psychological, this may be the most resource-rich area of S.H.A.P.E. Personality inventories like the Enneagram, DiSC profile, Strengths Finder and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are all useful tools that can help you assess how God has wired you and even how to approach people with vastly different personality traits.

Unfortunately, I find that lots of people have taken tests; few people pay attention to them. From a certain test, they may find that they’re an introvert but take a job as a salesperson, and they slowly die. Or they’re an extrovert but nevertheless go work in a laboratory and also slowly die. Those are extreme examples, but the point is, pay attention to what those tests tell you about how God made you and what that says about what He’s designed you to do. 

EXPERIENCES

Finally, take stock of your life experiences. Write them down and ponder how they’ve affected you. 

What are the milestone stories of your life? What is your educational background? What is your job background? And what are the experiences in your life that have shaped who you are today — a death in the family, a divorce, an addiction, a success, an award? How did all these things form you and influence you? How did they shape your life positively and negatively? And how are you embracing what God is doing as a result of those experiences?

The answers to all these questions will help you discern what God has designed you to be, which defines your role in the kingdom. Your goal then, with God’s kingdom purposes in mind, is to wrap your role around the purpose for all humankind that God instituted in Genesis 1 and 2: to steward Creation forward according to His will and for His glory. 

Much more on that in Part 2 …

 

Comments

To leave a comment, login or sign up.

Related Content

0
SCATTER STORIES: Serving Others in the Service Industry
Reagan's Story – Customer Service Professional   Like many working their way through college, Reagan has held various customer service jobs over the years. On one particular day, however, he remembers casually asking his manager, “So, how’s your day going?”  Surprisingly, this question caught his manager off guard.    Why would such a simple question be so unexpected?   “Nobody thought to ask (about her day) because we were all at work,” Reagan recalls. But we don’t stop being a person once we walk through the doors of our office, retail store, or job site, he explains. For Reagan, the customer service industry is the perfect place to reflect the love and hope of Jesus to customers and colleagues alike.    Putting others first and looking for ways to actively serve often meant taking the occasional extra shift and filling in for a colleague last minute. “(It’s) the easiest way to show I care,” says Reagan. “It just really opened up their entire world to me.”    Work is a gift, explains Reagan – even the hard, furthest from ‘dream job’ roles. “I've always thought of it as a real gift that the Lord gives (us) to steward little pockets of creation. So, when you're at work you are a steward, and living faithfully in that domain is glorifying to him whether anybody else knows it or not.”   But what about seasons when work is less than fulfilling? Does God have a kingdom purpose in mind when our 9 to 5 feels a little mundane or even meaningless?    “Start praying,” says Reagan. Ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do with this day? He’s faithful; He’s going to show you what you can do.”   Look for opportunities to practice, learn, and develop a specific skill related to your job. Find ways to become better. A year into working at a local coffee shop, Reagan discovered latte art, which provided a creative outlet and specific skill to learn. Each day, he got a little better.   Christians should always strive to be great in their places of work, says Reagan. “It’s a way for people to ask, why are you doing this? (And for us to answer) Well, Jesus.”  Are you frustrated and wondering how God could possibly use you in your current role for his kingdom? Start each day with a simple prayer: God, what do you want me to do with this day?    Because as image-bearers of God, we have been created “to do good works, which God prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).” Yes, this means even those jobs which are simply paying the bills and might feel a little mundane.   Are you in the service industry? How have you reflected Jesus in your workplace?    Scatter Stories is a monthly series spotlighting how God is using everyday people in everyday jobs around the world for his kingdom.  
0
Jesus - Echo, Signpost, Redeemer
I’ve always loved Christmas. Growing up in the snowy prairies of Canada, this was a time of endless outdoor fun. Our tradition celebrated well.  Food, extended family, ice skating while celebrating the majestic and mysterious story of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us – the All Creating One becoming 100% human and pitching his tent on this planet next to our own.     The wonder surrounding this event should never get old. But what was less talked about, was how this idea of God dwelling with his people was not a singular event. It sits squarely in the center of God’s Big Story but also serves as an echo and a foreshadowing – all to highlight God’s unwavering commitment to his world.   THE ECHO   God's desire to walk alongside his people was nothing new. Long before the nativity scene, his feet had strolled through a garden, his voice had been heard in conversation with humans, his presence had been enjoyed by all living things.    In the very early days of his Story, it was a love story that began in a garden. The Creator set in motion a rhythm of intimacy and shalom (wholeness, peace, goodness, fruitfulness - everything as it should be). God and his people would work in intimacy and unison. Together they would shape a flourishing world for the good of all creation and the glory of His name.   This had always been the plan - humanity working in harmony with their Creator, bearing his image and cultivating his world.     The coming of Jesus marked a new beginning, an echo of what had been lost, an opportunity for redemption.   THE SIGNPOST   Jesus’ coming also foreshadowed a coming reality. "Look,” John cries out. “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."    At the end of this chapter in history, God is coming down to earth and will restore his original intent – to make his permanent and divine home with his people. A time where everything will once again be reconciled to its rightful place, and God's people will rule and reign with him forever.   THE REDEEMER   The coming of Jesus - his life, death, and resurrection, is the final statement on God's faithfulness to his creatures and his world. He will not leave us alone, he insists on uniting himself with his people. He insists on redeeming the whole world back to himself. And he invites us into that Big Story to be renewed ourselves and to begin the work of reconciling all things back to him.    As Rich Villodas says, "The good news of advent is not that we are faithful in our waiting (we often aren’t) but that God is faithful in his coming."     This Christmas season, let’s press into this truth that God never stops pursuing us; this was his plan from the very beginning. He meets us right where we are, and he’s relentless about making his dwelling with us.    If we believe this to be true, then how should this relentless love Story shape how we live next to our neighbors, our colleagues, and our family members?     By Jonathan Thiessen  Scatter Global President and Co-Founder