When God knitted you together in your mother’s womb, designing and moulding you with wonderful complexity, beauty and uniqueness, He had more in mind for your life than simply filling a gap. We are not gap fillers as if our design doesn’t matter. We are moulded for a purpose.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do".
The Greek word interpreted as ‘handiwork’ is poiema from which we get the word ‘poem’. We are God’s creative, heartfelt expression. Such diversity expresses His eternal nature. He is a creative God. We bear His image. Such an image requires infinite expressions. When we see someone doing what God moulded them to do, it has a beauty that reflects God’s beauty. It’s like watching poetry in motion. It sends shivers down our spine. It gives us joy to see it. We feel we have witnessed something divine. To be that person is to be fully alive and to share that life to others.
Poems don’t come from a mould; Neither do people. We all have a unique shape and a unique place. In Jeremiah 1:5 God declares to His prophet, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you”. God’s shaping fits the purpose.
So how do we discover that purpose for ourselves?
Rick Warren uses the acronym S.H.A.P.E. to help people discover the work God has for them, their place in His plans. While there may be many ‘right’ places for someone to serve there are also many ‘wrong’ places. Here’s some practical thoughts for discovering your ‘shape’.
(1 Corinthians 12: 7-11)
Gifts of the spirit are just that – gifts. They are more than natural abilities, they are things that God enables by His spirit for the benefit of His body, that we might be God’s hands and feet in the world. What gifts has God given you? Pray that God releases His gifts of power into His church and make yourself available!
(Psalm 37: 4)
We all have something we are passionate about. When that is combined with a passion for honouring God, you will find a motivation that makes you want to do something, and enjoy it too. There are always hard parts to serving God. Sacrifice is involved. But if you are passionate about it, it’s more of a joy than a drain. Sometimes the needs you notice are a window to your heart and passion. If you are doing a ministry that has lost its joy, chances are that something needs to change.
(Exodus 31: 3-5)
We all have natural talents and abilities. Every one of us. Whilst we shouldn’t ignore our weaknesses (God works in them too, sometimes more!) a good place to start is to ask, "What can I do well? What do people ask me to do because I am good at it? How can I add skills, experience and knowledge to that ‘talent’ to turn it into a strength to be more effective for God’s purposes?"
It doesn’t take much reading of the Bible to see that men and woman with different temperaments were used by God in different ways. While every temperament has its sinful tendencies (e.g. outgoing people not listening/shy people not speaking up when they should, God’s purpose for us will not force us to undergo a personality transplant, or make us be something we are not. We were made to be comfortable in our own skin. While our gifts and heart help direct what we do, our personality directs how we do it.
Not all experiences are good. But they can all be used for our good and God’s glory. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Your experience, both positive and negative, in the hands of a loving God, can be moulded into something for His purpose. Something that gives that experience meaning, redeeming it, and others through it.
Whilst the bedrock of a godly character is always required for God to release someone into their ministry, when you put all this together, with prayer and a willingness to serve, you will find that over time a sense of calling develops. A direction of travel will sharpen over time. Why not start by asking God to lead you, and then try something, ask for feedback about how it goes, then do it differently or do something else.
We are not gap fillers as if our design doesn’t matter. We are moulded for a purpose. I pray that you will discover your purpose and start to realise that you are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.