Let Your S.H.A.P.E. Guide Your Role Within God’s Kingdom - Part 2

  1. Share
0 0

We reflect God’s glory through what we do and how we do it. 

In fact, we are the most brilliant reflection of God when we are who He S.H.A.P.E.’d us to be (see Part 1 for more details). Too many people are trying to be something they’re not. Unfortunately, many traditional missions organizations have been complicit in that by trying to press people into certain roles rather than embracing and encouraging who God made them to be. When we do that, we set people up for failure because they exhaust themselves doing what they weren't designed to do. And they slowly die.

But God made everyone unique, and He did that for a grand purpose — that we would take what He put inside us and use it to move creation forward under His will and in His ways. In so doing, we bring Him glory.

When God gave humanity the collective role of governing His creation, He created unique individuals to live together in community in such a way that they could run it — so that they could take it forward. 

We see people in ancient Israel playing this out in the story of the tabernacle in Exodus as farmers, shepherds, craftsmen and artists. God’s grand purpose was to establish the nation of Israel as a beacon of His glory to the nations, with Himself as the center and the tabernacle as the place where the nation would worship him and enjoy His presence. 

PURPOSE vs. VOCATION 

When people say, “I’m working out my purpose,” what they often mean is, “I’m working out my role.” I encourage you: Don’t confuse the two. Your purpose has already been defined by your Creator. All that remains is to find how you’re going to live that out within his purpose. So remember:

  1. Work out your vocation based on what God has made you to be. If you try to be something you’re not, you are trying to control something that God gave you to do under His control — and, you’re not going to be very good at it. Frederick Buechner’s reminder here is powerful: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

  2. Realize that when you do that under His grand purpose, you have incredible freedom in how you express what He made you to be. 

In service to our own ideas and priorities, we have over-complicated this entire enterprise. It simply should not be that way. We shouldn’t be putting Saul’s armor on people and telling them, “You must look like this — you must look like a soldier.” Well, no — you should look like a person doing the thing God created you to do.

If you say, “God made me to be a nurse — I love being a nurse, and I’m good at it,” then enjoy the freedom of that! You don’t have to sit around saying, “What’s my purpose?” Again, that great purpose has been set for you. Vocationally, that’s your place in the kingdom: nurse. 

WRAPPING VOCATION AROUND PURPOSE 

The key question then is, “Are you wrapping your vocation around your kingdom purpose?” Those two things are inextricably linked, and you know you’re doing it if you’re bringing God’s goodness with you and pointing people to God in your job. Rather than simply being a really good nurse (which is part of it — more on that later), you should constantly be seeking to bring God’s goodness into your interactions and bring out that goodness by bringing Jesus into the conversation and pointing people to Him.

Doing that, as the person God created you to be daily, erases the mythical sacred-secular divide that has hobbled people’s thinking for hundreds of years in the West. That divide does not exist in the historical Judeo-Christian worldview, nor in the ancient Hebrew way of thinking. It’s a modern Western fabrication that suddenly evaporates when people wrap their individual vocation around God’s grand purpose for humanity.

We have to explicitly embrace a truth that many believers understand implicitly: Your work is central to the mission of God in this world. It is not peripheral. Your actions and the work of your hands are key ways through which you fulfill your place in God’s kingdom. Put another way, you don’t fulfill your place in God’s grand purpose just by volunteering at church; you do it by living who He made you to be everywhere you are.

EXCELLENCE IN WORK AND ATTITUDE 

Finally, how you do that in the marketplace matters very much to God, particularly in the excellence and the attitude you bring to your work.

When you do your work with excellence, you reveal the image of our excellent Creator. And when you bring a great attitude to work, you reveal the character of the God who says in His word, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world …” (Philippians 2:14-15, ESV). 

Beyond that, as followers of Jesus, we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. We are the salt brings out the good flavor of everything around us and light that reveals God’s glory and brings it to bear everywhere we go. That’s acting out our real purpose, no matter what vocation we choose to pursue in line with our individual S.H.A.P.E.

Here are some questions to ponder as you search for your place in God’s grand purpose:

  1. What is my S.H.A.P.E.

  2. Am I working within my S.H.A.P.E. right now? If not, what could I do about that?

  3. What do I love to do that has been valuable to others, as well?

  4. What do other people say are my strengths and weaknesses (make a list)? Who could I ask about that?

  5. Have I prayed through what God has designed me to be and to do (make another list — your prayers and God’s responses)?

  6. What do I fear most about possibly pursuing a new course of work? What does Scripture say about that? And should I really be afraid of that?

  7. In light of how God made me, what other people say about me and what God seems to be saying to me, what are some vocational possibilities for me?

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