with Hugh Whelchel (and the good folks at the Institute of Faith, Work & Economics)
Archive for the ‘Purpose’ Category
Posted in Dale Tedder, Manhood, Meaning, Men, Men's Ministries, Mentoring, Ministry, Priorities, Purpose, Pursuing Godly Manhood, Will of God, Witness, Work and Vocation, tagged Dale Tedder, Fatherhood, Husband, Men, Men's Ministries, Ministry, Principles, Purpose, Vocation, Work on August 8, 2012 | 8 Comments »
I have been thinking and rethinking the purpose and trajectory of my ministry lately. It’s good to fine-tune your purpose/mission statements, etc., from time to time and that’s what I’ve been doing. In my case I’ve had to make sure that I’m grounding my own ministry in the sure foundation of clear biblical truths. Here’s what I’ve been chewing on during this latest brainstorming (or, light drizzle, as the case may be)…
The goal of my blog is to provide an online version of my ministry, which is…
To help men (but not only men) become all that God has created, redeemed, and called them to be in every sphere of their lives.
This purpose or ministry statement is built on my belief that there are implications to the fact that God has done just that… created us, redeemed us, and called (and continues to call) us. However, the truth is, we often don’t know what those implications are or what they should look like in our lives. My own calling from God is to help others discover what that threefold work of God means in their lives.
1.) God has created us. Therefore…
- We are created in God’s image.
- Though sinful, fallen, and broken, we have dignity.
- We have an ultimate purpose in the here and now (to glorify the God who created us).
- We have meaning and significance because we aren’t the results of some random accident of the universe.
2.) God has redeemed us. Therefore…
- We can know that we are loved by God (however, we must respond in trusting dependence to God’s loving initiative in Christ).
- We are new creatures in Christ, redeemed to know God as well as to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.
- We are commanded to become more like Christ by loving, trusting, following, and obeying him.
- We have the universal purpose of all who follow Christ to bear witness to Christ in this world through evangelism of those who don’t know Christ, edification of those who do know and follow Christ, and engagement with the world on behalf of God’s Kingdom.
- We can have confidence that our identity is in the Word (made flesh and revealed in and through holy Scripture) and not the world around us.
- We have a new family with whom we can grow, love, minister and worship.
3.) God has called us. Therefore…
- We can know that we have a unique purpose to which God has called us and are thus encouraged to pursue it with humility, focus, confidence and passion.
- Our work matters to God.
- Our relationships matter to God.
- It matters, if we are called to be married, how we think, speak, and live as husbands and wives.
- It matters, if we are called to be parents, how we think, speak, and live as mothers and fathers.
- We have particular gifts for ministry to discover, cultivate, and use in service to God and others.
I realize I have only touched the tip of the iceberg with these remarks. As I learn and grow I will certainly edit what I have written. But, for now, these thoughts help me with my own calling as a follower of Christ as well as what my ministry might focus on in service to those God has entrusted to my care. I pray that I will never cease to learn and grow with either one.
Grace and Truth,
[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Great saints of God have beautifully, if feebly, attempted to capture the height and depth and weight of such a majestic verse as this. In his Confessions, Augustine wrote, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” Pascal’s oft-quoted words that people have a God-shaped vacuum in their hearts that only God can fill strike a similar note.
We do have a longing in our heart for eternity – or better – the God of eternity. Perhaps C.S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory, best expressed this great desire of our hearts. He wrote:
In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness… I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each of one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence… We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.
…The books or music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing in itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
Eternity has been placed in our hearts by the King of eternity. Our longing is a homesickness of sorts. For though this is our Father’s world and was created good, it is now fallen. And when touched by the Holy Spirit we can no longer be content with the things of this world alone… things that are temporal and destined to fade away.
Perhaps some do not experience such a longing for their true homeland because their hearts and minds are not yet set on things above where Christ our King is seated. Perhaps the ravages of sin have so inflicted their hearts and minds that a shadow has veiled their sight. We can only pray that the same sovereign Spirit who touched us and re-created us will do the same for others.
In the end, there is no end, for we were created for eternity. We are pilgrims and aliens in a foreign land who long for the City of God, not built with human hands, but eternal in the heavens.
May the longing of our hearts for things unseen serve as our true north, that we might one day return Home.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Calling, Dale Tedder, Eternal Perspective, Identity, Lifelong Learning, Meaning, Purpose, Pursuing Godly Manhood, tagged Calling, Dale Tedder, Godly, Identity, Manhood, Meaning, Purpose on May 25, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Yesterday I introduced the idea that all Christians have a universal purpose… to become like Christ. (You could also say we have an ultimate purpose to glorify God in everything we say, do and think.) Today we’re going to focus on our unique purpose.
Our Unique Purpose
I think this is what folks really want to know about when they ask the question, “What is my purpose?” Our unique purpose has to do with our CALLING… and with that calling… God gives us gifts and desires… and equips us to serve him in that unique way.
Here’s a brief excerpt of what I shared this past Saturday with some high school graduates at their commencement ceremony on this subject of discovering their calling or purpose…
Ask yourself these questions…
1.) What do you feel called to do?
2.) What is your passion?
3.) What is your gift or talent?
The FIRST question focuses on your calling: What is your inward desire… that “something” that is pulling you in a particular direction? Usually it’s something bigger than you are. It’s not a calling to watch as many football games as possible. It’s something big… something meaningful. It’s usually something that will add value in the lives of others. I believe that God gives us that calling and desires that we pursue it.
The SECOND question focuses on your passion. What excites you? What do you think about? What gets you up in the morning? What do you look forward to? This is important because you don’t want to end up doing something that you’re good at… but that you hate. You don’t want to get to a place in life where you dread getting out of the bed in the morning because you can’t stand the direction your life is heading. You want to live with passion because that passion will fuel you to reach incredible heights.
The THIRD question focuses on talent or giftedness. In other words… what are you good at? You don’t want to end up doing something that you’re really passionate about… but that you’re terrible at doing.
Now, ideally… your calling in life… will combine all three. You will feel this inward desire for a particular direction in life… you’ll love doing it… and you’ll be really great at it. However, it’s important to remind you that you’re not going to discover this overnight. It takes time. It takes careful observation. Talk to your family members about what they’ve seen in your life. Talk with those who know you best. Talk to career counselors. Read books. Pay attention to yourself.
The Apostle Paul was called to life in Christ, just as we all are. However, he also was called with a unique purpose… and that was to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Now, a call in your life doesn’t mean you have to become a pastor or missionary… though it might be for some of you. Instead, here’s another way to think of your call or purpose. I like this definition of purpose from Ken Boa
“A biblical purpose is always an unchanging reason for being. It holds true for you regardless of your circumstances or season of life. When a Christ-centered purpose becomes the focus of your life, it harmonizes all other areas, such as family, work, finances, and ministry.”
You see, God called me to ordained ministry… however, my unique purpose is to help folks become all that God created, redeemed, and called them to be. So, I can live out that purpose in the context of my family at home, with my church family, and lots of other ways. It’s not bound to my “circumstances or season of life.” (I can live out my purpose at 46 years of age… or 86)
The problem of tying your purpose too closely with your circumstances, is that those too easily and quickly change. For example, if your purpose is your work… then what happens when you don’t have that job any longer? Do you still have purpose? If your only purpose is raising your family… then what happens when they leave the house? Do you still have purpose?
Now, certainly, our purpose can be connected closely to our jobs, parenting, etc., but they’re not the same things… or at least shouldn’t be.
So… Do you know your true calling… your unique purpose for your life? Part of my calling and purpose is to help you discover yours and it would be an honor for me to work with you to help you discover it. You may be closer to knowing it than you think. It may be right under your nose.
“Tony Campolo tells the story of a friend who discovered his true calling in life. He had been a college English teacher, but suddenly quit his position – to become a mailman.
After hearing the man’s reasons for resigning from teaching to become a mailman, Campolo tried to encourage him with the old Protestant work ethic: “Charlie, if you’re going to be a mailman, then be the best mailman in the world!” To which his friend replied, “I’m a lousy mailman, Tony. I’m the last one to get back to the post office every day, and besides, I can’t sleep at night.”
When he asked for an explanation, here’s what Campolo heard: “There are so many lonely people on my route who never had anyone visit them until I became their mailman. Have you ever tried to sleep after drinking fifteen cups of coffee in one day?”
Campolo reached an important conclusion about his friend Charlie: “He was alive with the excitement that comes to a person doing something meaningful with his life.”
Beloved, there’s nothing as thrilling as knowing what you’re called to do… and then living out that calling each day.
Your universal purpose is to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior… and then spend the rest of your life growing in your faith… and loving and serving others. But do you know your unique purpose… how God is calling you to live out that universal purpose?
Pray about it. Come talk to me about it. And then, like Paul, get busy living.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Dale Tedder, Eternal Perspective, Identity, Jesus Christ, Meaning, Purpose, Pursuing Godly Manhood, Regeneration, Renovate Your Life, Repentance, tagged Apostle Paul, Conversion, Dale Tedder, Eternal Perspective, Godly Manhood, Identity, Jesus Christ, Manhood, Meaning, Purpose, Repentance, Rick Warren on May 24, 2012 | 3 Comments »
Click here to read Part 1 of this series.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t always our beloved Apostle and servant of our Lord. At one time he was a fierce persecutor of the Church. But then something extraordinary happened. Here’s how Luke describes Paul’s conversion…
Acts 9:1-18 - Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,“Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
That very day, Paul’s purpose for existence was radically and utterly altered. His values, perspective, worldview, identity, meaning… all of it… was turned upside down (or better right-side up) on that trip down the Damascus Road.
Here’s how Paul would later interpret the results of his conversion…
Philippians 3:4b-9 - If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal,persecuting the church;as for legalistic righteousness,faultless.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousnessthat comes from God and is by faith.
In light of those two texts… of that experience and that interpretation of it… Paul’s words to us in Romans 1:1, become all that much more powerful and helpful, don’t they?
In this one verse we learn about Paul’s Universal Purpose as well as his Unique Purpose. You see, we each have a Universal Purpose and a Unique Purpose.
1.) We all have a Universal Purpose
This purpose is God’s intention for us that is shared by all Christians.
Here are some examples:
- God wants us to know Christ
- God wants us to grow in our faith
- God wants us to pray
- God wants us to read the Bible
- God wants us to make new disciples
- God wants us to love and serve other people
- God wants us to obey God
Basically… this Universal Purpose for God’s people… is to become more like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). This was the primary focus of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, that our church studied together about eight years ago.
Paul would point back to that day when God changed his life on the Damascus Road and say that it all started with God. Paul was no longer a Pharisee of Pharisees, no longer seeking to imprison Christians. He was now a SERVANT or SLAVE of Jesus Christ.
His ultimate purpose was now defined by his relationship with Jesus Christ… and ours should be too.
But there’s also a Unique Purpose. And we’ll take a look at that tomorrow.
Grace and Truth,
The following was first preached as a sermon on April 22. While I won’t here be reproducing every illustration and story I shared with the congregation when I preached it, hopefully the main ideas of the message will still come through.
Grace and Truth,
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played
He never risked, he never tried
He never sang or prayed.
And when one day he passed away,
His insurance was denied,
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never really died.
Does that describe you? Are you going through the motions, without really living?
Have you ever asked yourself,
- “What is my purpose?”
- “Why am I here?”
- “What do I want my life to add up to?”
- “Where am I heading?”
- “Am I pursuing my purpose or my calling?”
It’s interesting how often we don’t think about such questions. We’re so distracted with activities, television shows, sports, video games, and a hundred other things. That sort of attitude about life led one philosopher to write…
“To be utterly lost in the woods is unfortunate. To be absolutely unconcerned about it is unreasonable.”
And yet that’s how many of us approach life.
Some of us take days to plan and pack for vacation… but how few of us really plan and prepare for life? And that’s often because we don’t know why we’re here… or where we’re headed.
There’s a relatively new book that’s been released entitled, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” It was written by a nurse who worked with patients who had only 12 weeks to live.
Here are the top five regrets they had…
5.) I wish that I had let myself be happier.
4.) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
3.) I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings.
2.) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
1.) I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
That tells us a lot, doesn’t it? Can you relate to any of those regrets?
I’m convinced that it’s a whole lot harder to live a life true to yourself… if you don’t know what that life looks like… if you don’t know why you’re here.
Well, the Apostle Paul tells us a great deal in just the first verse of our Scripture this morning on just this very thing (Romans 1:1).
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God —
I think this verse will mean a great deal more to us when we understand where Paul came from.
And we’ll take a look at that, as well as its implications for those of us seeking God’s purpose in and for our lives, tomorrow.