Could you articulate a God-given vision for your life? Not your own agenda that you “hope God will make happen.” Can you express God’s reason for giving you more heart-beats? Could you write your reason for living in a sentence or two? Can you take every life-role, every responsibility, and every opportunity and filter it all through a simple set of values that determine how you steward your life?
I’ve never shared this publicly, but while fighting cancer a few years ago, God dealt with me deeply regarding this matter. For a short season, I didn’t know what kind cancer I had and how long I had left to live. Hence, I wrestled over big values, and over one simple question, “If God extends my life, am I properly stewarding His calling and purpose?” In some ways, the answer was yes. In others, I was clearly in violation, and He brought growing conviction in these areas.
During those months, God gave me a lot of sick time in bed. It was just Him and me and chemo. It was a breaking experience—an intimate and pervasive reminder of utter weakness and Christ-dependence. God chastened and purged my heart. He plowed deep, humbled me, broke my will, and revealed to me spiritual blind spots that pride had hidden. He exposed in me a “comfort zone” that I didn’t want to leave.
Vision is a good word. It’s not a wish or a fantasy. It’s a faith pursuit of the call and purpose of God. Simply put, God’s vision should drive every choice you make.
In those months, I journaled what God taught me. Key words began to emerge—communicate (as in teach, preach, write, share the gospel and the Word of God as much as possible), compel (as in, lead and encourage others toward God’s best for their lives), people (as in, relationships are God’s highest priority), and Jesus (as in, it’s all about knowing and loving Jesus and helping others to know and love Him too.)
Over many weeks, I landed on a simple statement that I began to view as a life vision statement. It would drive every decision and every “why” in my life:
“I live to communicate truth that compels people to love Jesus.”
I know—it’s rather simplistic and unimpressive. For you it’s probably a “dud” of a statement. But for me, it’s a compass that keep me in sync with God’s call to preach, to love people, and to magnify Jesus Christ.
There’s more to the statement (at least to me) than at first appears…
Breaking Down the Words:
Communicate—in attitude, in actions, in tone, in voice, with words, in writing, in serving, in giving, in every area of living—express the love of Christ towards others.
Truth—Present God’s Word in real, practical, life-changing, mind-shaping, heart-delighting, attractive ways.
Compels—Truth is compelling—it stirs, convicts, inspires, drives, leads, assists, coaches, counsels, and facilitates a personal, relational, compassion-filled, heart-fulfilling, life-shaping enounter with Jesus by faith.
People—each person is unique, meaningful, valuable, and delighted in by Creator God. Each one is created by Him for His glory. Impact people for Him.
Love—We love Him because He loves us. His love compels us. When we meet Him, we can’t help but love Him. The longer we know Him, the more we love Him. Love for Jesus is the only sustainable and viable motive for Christian living.
Jesus—Almighty God, Saviour, Friend who loves us unconditionally, saves us irreversibly, walks with us faithfully, grows us patiently, forgives us completely, redeems us eternally, and blesses us abundantly!
Breaking Down the Roles:
Communication flows in every role of life—spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically, intellectually, personally. I communicate with attitudes, actions, responses, emotions, and words. I communicate in speech, body language, facial expression. I communicate in writing, online, in letters, on social media. I communicate in the pulpit, out of the pulpit. Everything I do in life communicates something…
As a husband—My desire is to communicate the love of Christ toward Dana in ways that deeply fulfill her heart, delight her spirit, and value her person. Rightly honored, her heart will be drawn to love Jesus more.
As a father/grandpa—My desire is for my kids (and grandkids) to grow up loving Jesus, in part because of what they saw, experienced, received, and heard from me. May He forever be someone they run TO not FROM. I have so far to go in becoming “like Jesus”—I often pray they will see Him in spite of me.
As a pastor—I want my church family to know the heart of Jesus. If I love them, feed them, nurture them, and rejoice with them over many years, perhaps they will see Him and love Him more deeply. I pray our church will be driven forward by a love for Jesus and others, not by me or programs or any other motivations. I pray, in coming decades, many others will come to know and love Jesus because of our ministry as a church family.
As a leader/communicator—I intend to use words that are faithful to His Word, encouraging to His people, equipping to His servants, and edifying to His church.
That’s my life vision: “To communicate truth that compels people to love Jesus.” It includes every relationship of life and every aspect of my call as a Christian. It impacts every decision and priority. It filters every motive and opportunity.
Some Final Applications:
First, it isn’t transferrable. Mine won’t work for you. That’s not the point. Never-the-less, God has an assignment for you. His vision will be increasingly clear as you pursue Him and study His unfolding hand in your circumstances and gifts.
Second, it isn’t static. I couldn’t have articulated this vision ten years ago—it was different then. That was a different season. Even so, His vision for your life is more of a journey than a one-time realization.
Third, it isn’t measurable. We all like to quantify success. We like to look at reports and charts to see our accomplishments. We like to count the growth. But this vision is really only measurable by Jesus. Who? How many? How far? How big? None of those things are in my control. Those are His metrics to decide. John the Baptist was actually losing followers to Jesus—which was his whole purpose! In those losses, he was a smashing success. Our best spiritual successes are those we probably don’t even know about, those we could never measure until eternity.
What drives you to wake up tomorrow and press forward? For me, it’s simple. I’m not pursuing a certain size church family, a certain level of influence, or a perceived “place.” I’m pursuing the simple goal of effectively communicating love and truth in a way that compels people to love Jesus. Period.
This kind of vision has a freeing quality. It frees the heart from searching for significance or identity in other things. It lets you rest in being and doing what Jesus created you to do. It lets you be who God made you to be, nothing more, nothing less.
May I encourage you to wrap your life into His purpose. Your Creator placed you strategically in your time and place, for such a time as this. Seize the day, take courage, step up in faith… pursue Jesus with all your heart, and let Him refine your reasons for running your race.
Want to simplify your new year and make it ever more effective for God? Run with clear vision! Live for His simply-stated purpose and vision!
May 2015 be a year of fresh, biblical vision and forward growth in your life for God’s glory!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)