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  • What is God’s will for my life?

    A few weeks ago Josh delivered a great message on the life of William Wilberforce and how his faith motivated him to use his life and position as an MP (1784–1812) to champion the cause of abolition, becoming one of the leading English abolitionists. In this article I’m exploring the question, ‘how can I know what God wants me to give my life to’?

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    Photo by Anne Worner

    Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty years, and continued after he was no longer an MP, until the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured.

    Josh challenged us regarding what we were using our lives and spheres of influence for. He clearly encouraged us that it was not about the scale of our sphere (not all of us will be MPs, a single mum loving raising her children is just as valuable) but our heart and attitudes towards serving God’s kingdom in whatever role we are called to.

    But how do we know what our individual role is? We can point to the general counsel of scripture for all believers such as “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” Isaiah 1:17) but what about our individual assignments? This is where I find Rick Warren very helpful. In his book ‘The Purpose Drive Life’ Rick says that when it comes to our purpose we all have a combination of capabilities known as our SHAPE.

    Spiritual Gifts
    Heart
    Abilities
    Personality
    Experience

    Spiritual Gifts

    God has given every believer spiritual gifts to be used in ministry (1 Corinthian 12, Ephesians 4:8-15). You don’t earn or choose the gifts you get, but they are freely given by God as He pleases. Also, no individual has all the gifts (that is why church is like a family team all working together in love). Your gifts are not given for your benefit but to serve others – so knowing what your gifts are is a key to discovering God’s will for your assignment; but they are not the only aspect of your SHAPE.

    What gifts do you think you have? What gifts do other people around you see in you?

    Heart

    The Bible uses the word heart to describe our hopes, desires, interests, ambitions, dreams and affections. It is what makes us tick; what motivates us.  Another word for this is passion. There are certain subjects that you will be more passionate about than others and when you think about them you find your heartbeat and emotions rising faster than normal. It’s not that you think the other topics are less important, it’s just when you hear about [insert topic] a nerve is struck; your pupils dilate; the heart rate goes up and your emotions come to the surface (be that excitement or tears). When you are serving in a role that aligns with your heart you are often more enthusiastic and effective.

    So, what sets your heartbeat racing?

    Abilities

    Your abilities are your natural talents & skills you are born with. Some people are good at sports; others are gifted mathematicians, speakers, writers, or mechanics. All abilities, like the spiritual gifts, come from God but unlike the spiritual gifts you get them at your birth. Every ability and talent—no matter if it is administering or artistic, fishing or writing—can be used for God’s glory and to serve others (1 Cor 10:31). Moreover, what you are able to do, God wants you to do! You are the only person who can use your abilities and the only person with you unique SHAPE combination. God doesn’t waste capabilities, He matches our calling to our capabilities.

    What abilities do you have? What are you naturally good at that others are not? How are you practicing and developing your talents?

    Personality

    God loves variety, just look at the people around you. He has created each of us with combinations of personality traits. He has made extroverts and introverts, thinkers and feelers ,people who love routine and people who love variety. Your personality will affect how you use and express your spiritual gifts and abilities. Carpenters know it is easier to work with the grain of the wood rather than against it, similarly you will be most effective if you minister in line with your temperament—if you don’t, you will increase tension, discomfort, and require extra energy.

    What is your personality type? Do you feel you are currently in a role that allows you to serve in line with your personality? If not, what changes can you make?

    Experience

    We’ve all been shaped by our life experience. Family and educational experiences, vocational and painful experiences, spiritual and ministry experiences; God can use, and has used, these to mould you. When thinking about our painful experiences, lots of emotions and questions can spring up. Questions like, “why would God allow that to happen to me?” these are difficult questions but the beautiful truth is that God never wastes hurt and works all things for our good. In fact, sometimes our greatest ministry will come out of places of hurt. Who better to counsel the wife whose husband has left her than a lady who has been through that same pain herself (see 2 Cor 1:4).

    As you reflect on the above remember, no one else can be you. Only you have your unique God-given SHAPE, and hopefully the above has helped you understand how He has prepared you for serving Him. Whether you are called to be an MP or full-time mum; a stockbroker or street cleaner; a pastor or parachute instructor; only you can do what you are called to do the way you can do it. As you do it God will be glorified, His kingdom extended, and you will find yourself walking in your calling.

    So, after reading the above what do you think your SHAPE is? How are you using this to serve God in Crown and the workplace and helping others to do the same?

     

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