Simon Peter walked on water until he was distracted by the wind and waves. The wind and waves are potential, the vast ocean of possibility from which obedience and submission carves eternal purpose.
Prioritize your Passion, Preparation, and Positioning
The greatest enemy of purpose is potential. Every temptation of Jesus was a test to substitute His potential for purpose. What you could do is never a measure of what you should do. You must discover your “I was created for this” purpose. The limitless ocean of possibilities will fade, and the priorities of your destiny will come into focus.
After these decades of leading and developing leaders, I am more convinced than ever of the power of prioritization that comes from carving out well-defined purpose. If my revelation of purpose hasn’t set long-term goals, I won’t know what to do right now to move my life toward purpose. I will, instead, continue to seek my highest through more immediate distractions and delusions about what it best for my life.
Thomas Edison said, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” Oswald Chambers expounded upon “My Utmost for His Highest” as a way of talking about how to invest the best of myself each moment in the highest revelation of What God Wants for My Life, move down the clearest pathway to the fullness of personal purpose.
The problem of not knowing what I should do as a priority each day shuffles the best of my life off into cul-de-sac dead-end detours. I can be busy doing good things, but I may not be producing purpose. Not that God makes the whole picture available right up front, but that He makes the next step obvious enough to challenge the delusions of distractions.
God Provides Leaders
The most important input for keeping my pursuit of purpose on track comes from the leaders God provides. He structures family and kingdom so kingdom culture and relational covenants prepare and position me for fullness of purpose.
I can know where to apply the highest and best of myself! Instead of finding or creating excuses to quit, accountability to leaders empower me to improve. I never seek a magic wand, easier way. I can know what the highest and best of myself is. I can know where the priorities of my relationships lie. I can avoid the damning dragnet of thinking, “It should be getting easier,” as I reach higher in my destiny. I can discover maturity developed by obedient submission when the greatest tests come.
A revelation of purpose doesn’t explain every step of my life, but it always provides proper context as I interpret my tests. Revelation sets the end goal of my present season, so that I can stay on track. I do know I’m on course because of kingdom leaders. I won’t always know the full process ahead of time, but God provides leaders to strength my will, resolve, and endurance. I feel them empower my weary arms, feeble knees, and mushy motivations. I will not know all that God knows, but I will be able to recognize the priorities that govern the highest and best of my emotional energy, time, money, and relationships.
Relational Dynamics and Higher Priorities
Holy Spirit separated Paul from where he was and who he was with. Several years of walking with Barnabas, learning from other kingdom leaders, and submitting to a preparation process prepared Paul to reach for higher priorities. The Antioch leaders knew that purpose trumps relationship, that no know is violating God’s priorities when they leave in obedience to purpose. It is how and when they leave that most often determines the pursuit of purpose or the distraction of potential. Such decisions are so important that God provides kingdom leaders through which to validate them, just as He did with Paul at Antioch.
If I think that being everyone’s best friend will produce purpose, I am either destined to be a professional Facebook characterization of a real person, or I am still confused about my authentic identity. I may have mistaken shallow relationships for kingdom relational covenants. I may have justify rebellion grasping for false equality like Korah. Or, I may have simply allowed peers to prescribe a more comfortable lifestyle. I am called to love, but I cannot love everyone equally.
My priorities of purpose: Jesus says the love I mature about myself is the love I have available to invest in my neighbor. I cannot afford to invest my life in impressing people I don’t even like. I must invest my passion in purpose, both in myself and my neighbor. Loving yourself purposefully is godly. Loving your neighbor on that same premise produces healthy responses to other people.
Jesus didn’t say I must find a way to make everyone an equal, or that I am equal or loved equally. God doesn’t do that, and neither should I. As I follow God’s example of favor, I invest power and position so that it empowers purpose. God has favorites. I will have favorites as well. God’s favor is power and position; my favor empowers according to position. Relationships have defined roles and responsibilities, and love answer to design and definition. I will love my spouse uniquely because the relationship design and definition. Every relationship God designed and defined answers to the Creator’s purposes for people.
Making Each Day Count for Purpose
Finally, I make each day I live a day of purpose pursuit. If that is a vacation, I know that rest is a weapon for purpose. If that is time with my family or my spouse, I know that family and spouse are priorities of my purpose. If that is one person on assignment, or a crusade or conference for 10,000, it is never potential I pursue, but purpose. When I make purpose a priority, I will run the risk of disappointing the demands of flesh, people, and the devil.
I will know I am pursuing purpose when I am persecuted for the right reasons. I will know I am striving after distracting potential when people make me comfortable with my conformity.
We are 500 years from the moment Luther nailed his theses to the door of the church. The strokes of that hammer thundered! Reformation began with a moment of action. Up to that moment, the talk was cheap. Talking about it can get you into trouble but action will thrust you into a battle that might kill you, or destroy everything you have built up to that moment.
The call to action is Abraham taking a journey to a place about which he knew nothing. The wise men started traveling with no indication of success in their journey but a star, taking enormous wealth with them to present to someone they were completely uncertain was even there.
Jesus tells of two people: one was asked to do something and said, “I won’t do it,” but later turned around and obeyed; the other was asked to do something and said, “I will,” but never did. Jesus asks, “Which is justified for approval?”
I remember the first trip I made to Brasil. I had the vision of Jesus standing up in Brasil, and I immediately began to plan to go to that nation. The way did not open. The leaders would not allow me to go. I lacked the finances for the travel. I pursued that call to action for eleven months. One day I sat in a service with a man, and he pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for the money I needed to come to Brasil. When he handed it to me, I said, “Well, I will go to Brasil unless God stops me.” That week the leaders gave me permission to go. That trip opened the nation to my ministry in Brasil.
Up to that moment, I pursued that purpose every day. The preparation becomes the position, and the position became the power, and the power became the promotion that leads to fullness of purpose. I spent those months carving out purpose from the vast ocean of potential. Knowing purpose empowers every day of your life with priority.