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identify my purpose

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"Heaven is nice, she should go there."

Last week my good friend was faced with the challenge of explaining to her 11-year old son that his great grandmother, “Honey”, whom helped raise him was growing more ill. She told him that Honey was in a lot of pain and Jesus would probably call her home to heaven soon. He responded, “Heaven is nice, she should go there.” That certainly wasn’t the way she expected the conversation to go; she anticipated having to comfort him. Instead, what he said has brought great comfort to her in this time of need.

For many, the holidays are difficult. We lost my grandmother, Queenie Esther (I say her name every chance I get) and my cousin Mikey a few years ago, just before Thanksgiving and there have been plenty of times that I’ve cried wishing they were still here. This year, I will take comfort in knowing that they are 'in heaven and it’s nice there.’

As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, remember that it’s not about turkey and gifts. Remember those in need, without families, feeling lonely and abandoned. As you celebrate with your family, pray for those that have lost a loved one. Adopt a family if you can, host a community service drive of some sort, serve a meal, just do something to remind someone else that they are not alone. And after the holiday day season is over, don’t stop. Keep showing up, doing something as often as you can to remind someone else that God still sees, hears, and cares.
 

RIP Honey, Queenie Esther, and Mikey.

 

 


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"I'm not judging but..."

Yesterday, Wess Morgan was a surprise guest at my church. He sang a couple of songs which I thoroughly enjoyed but what stood out most was his testimony. He shared stories of his life as a preacher’s kid, in and out of jail, addicted to drugs, etc. While sharing he said something that truly hit home for me…“As you become more self-aware, you become less judgmental.”

“No one is perfect.” For most, this is truly just a saying; something thrown around as needed to defend our own actions, crude remarks, behaviors, etc. but where is this thought when it comes to others? This notion is completely dismissed when scrutinizing our peers. In fact, most precede their judgmental comments with “I’m not judging but…” which is equally as disingenuous as “shade but no shade” or “I don’t like to gossip but…” However, as Wess pointed out, the more honest you are about yourself, the decisions you’ve made, the people you’ve hurt, your fears, secrets, etc., the less likely you are to pass judgement on others.

Although some of this judgment may happen subconsciously we have to be more responsible for our thoughts toward others. Think about your thinking…my teacher friends refer to this as metacognition. Although it’s different in the education field, I think it would go a long way here especially because some of the studies point out that without the ability to do so “people tend to be blissfully unaware of their own incompetence.”  Ouch!

“So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14: 12-13)


 

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Satisfied, successful, or significant?

“You can live a satisfied life, a successful life, or a significant life.”

Many live a satisfied life where they are ‘okay’ with how things are moving and realize that things could be better, but have become accustomed to life as they know it. They’re married or single, may or may not have children, most of the bills are paid on time, their heads are above water for the most part, can treat themselves from time to time, may be educated, etc. If they didn’t attend or finish college, they wrestle with that; if they have a degree but not in their current field of work or in a field of interest, they’re dealing with that… And more likely than not, they feel like they’re behind the curve and something is always missing.

There are others who’ve achieved great levels of success, are able to take care of their needs as well as the needs of others financially, travel the world, and do all the other ‘things’ successful people do according to societies silly standards. Married or single, with or without children, they likely have multiple degrees or successful businesses, probably both. They’ve accumulated a lot of ‘things’ that must be maintained through their society defined ‘successes’.  But with each new home, high-end pair of shoes, latest model car, elaborate vacation, increased stock options, etc. they grow deeper into a funk, feeling unfilled, undervalued, and stuck. And again, something is always missing.

And then there are those who lead a life of significance. Satisfaction isn’t the goal in this case; it is fulfillment. And success takes on a whole new meaning because it’s measured by the impact made on others. The fulfillment that comes with a life of significance can never be achieved from mere success. The serotonin popping goodness comes from that feeling of influencing others in a way that has a lasting effect. Married or single, with or without children, educated or not, traveling the world, managing multiple stock portfolios – or not,  the significant life is very personal-meaning the significance isn’t defined by or tied to ‘things’ or others; it’s found internally and is realized by gifting your gifts (not to be confused with talents) to others.

The difficultly in this is recognizing gifts and unfortunately for many, this is a huge struggle. In September & October I held two group coaching sessions for women who are tired of feeling stuck. Women from various walks of life attended; some married (happily or otherwise), some were single (happily or otherwise), a few were mothers, and while there were different levels of success and satisfaction, they were all there, however, because something was missing. Satisfaction and success weren’t cutting it and they all wanted more from life, they wanted a life of significance.

As I mentioned, significance is closely tied to our gifts and how we use them to bless others. The women in both sessions struggled to identify their gifts, not because they didn’t have any; that wasn’t the case at all. It was because they were doing what many of us are guilty of—which is taking our gifts for granted. This happens when you realize that you do something well but because it comes so naturally to you, you refuse to consider it a gift or you deny it because you’re comparing your gift to others. As such, you neglect to account for the way God speaks to you while operating in this gift or the way others are impacted as benefactors of your gift. I am by no means saying that everything we do well is a gift. But your gift, your calling, your purpose is what you were made for and what I am saying is that we miss the opportunity to live a life of significance when we don’t recognize our gifts, call them as they are, and use them to positively impact others in Jesus’ name.

The other issue for some of us is that we value success over significance. Longing for things or people to fulfill us and insisting that our God-given gifts won’t be fruitful. I beg to differ, mainly because the bible told me so… “A gift opens doors for the one who gives it and brings him into the presence of great people.” (Proverbs 18:16)

Until we accept our gifts and operate in them, we will never be fulfilled, something will always be missing. The accumulation of things will only provide momentary gratification so a change is required, a paradigm shift if you will, as our motivation should be to seek and operate in our gifts not for financial gains and the accumulation of things (people included) but so that God gets the glory from our life of significance!

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)

 

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