2 weeks ago we began this discussion on the power of purpose. If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2, I recommend going back and starting there before continuing.
3. Your Primary Purpose is making it hard for those in your realm of
influence to go to hell!
“…Work at telling others the Good News…”. Some versions say, “do the work of an evangelist” or “do the work of a preacher of the Good News” or “do the work of a missionary”.
I once heard a pastor say,
“Don’t fly over the mission field to get to the mission field.”
Was he against international missions? Of course not! He was simply encouraging us not to miss the mission field all around us. There are lost and hurting people all around us. The next generation is looking for someone who knows where they are going. You don’t have to go to another continent to change the world. The world you live in needs the Good News and God appointed you, chose you, and planted you right where you are needed most! Go on mission trips, we encourage every member of our church to do so at least once every 5 years, but stay on mission all the time— “do the work of a missionary!”
Some people mistake passion for purpose.
They think if they are passionate about it, then it must be their purpose. So every day, opportunities to advance God’s Kingdom happen right in front of them, but they don’t even see them because they have defined their purpose and anything that doesn’t fit that definition is not their purpose. And here’s something we need to understand about purpose:
God is not obligated to fulfill my purpose for me — He is bound to His Word to fulfill His purpose for me.
“I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.” - Psalm 57:2
Over 90% of people who think they are called to go overseas as missionaries choose the first place they went on a mission trip as the place to which they are called. Why? Because, they mistakenly think the passion they felt on that mission trip was for that place. How many of them make it, how many succeed? Less than 5%! Why? Because they have mistaken passion for purpose. They saw tremendous need, they saw God use them to help, and they fell in love with it. But, in reality, it wasn’t that particular place they fell in love with—it was doing the work of the Kingdom! They transferred that over to a specific place and now they have limited their purpose to meeting needs in that place. So now, when they are not in that place, they feel out of place, purposeless. They sit in the middle of a mission field and do nothing because the only place they have purpose is somewhere they are not!
Listen to Paul encourage Timothy—who, by the way, is a pastor—to do the work of an evangelist and missionary. Pastor was not Timothy’s purpose. Pastor is not my purpose. Pastor is my gift, my talent, my ability. Advancing God’s Kingdom, sharing the Good News, finding the lost, helping the hurting, and encouraging the next generation is our purpose. That purpose has no geographical boundaries or language barriers. That purpose has no time limit. As a pastor I know I will become less effective in the pulpit as I pass a certain age, less able to attract the unchurched. But as a son of God whose purpose is advancing God’s Kingdom, there is no time limit, no shrinking of my effectiveness. My God purpose doesn’t depend on whether I’m cool, or hip, or young, or old, or city or country, or whether I am in a pulpit or not. My purpose doesn’t wear out, run out or burn out. Until Jesus returns, my purpose, my primary purpose is to make it hard for anyone around me to go to hell! My purpose is to make the name of Jesus famous wherever I go!
And notice another word Paul uses in this encouragement--“do the work of an evangelist”—he calls it ‘WORK’! Ministry, God’s purpose in our lives, is work. I watch people drawn to what looks exciting or glamorous, and then get disillusioned when they find out there is work involved.
I knew a pastor once who wouldn’t let anyone lead in his church until they spent time cleaning the bathrooms. He led a church of thousands, a church known worldwide for serving, because nobody in the church thought they were too good to clean the toilets. No one said that wasn’t his or her calling. He found out that men and women who would do a great job of cleaning the toilets, did a great job in other places too. They weren’t afraid of the ‘work’ God-given purpose requires.
Helping men recover their lives and purpose after it has been stolen by an addiction is hard work. Jason Wiley and all those who serve at Blake House—formerly No Longer Bound—will tell you the work starts where the glamour ends. Some young man says a prayer with you, makes a commitment to follow God instead of meth. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it’s glamorous. But now the work of restoration begins. When the glamor is gone, it’s the purpose that remains. It’s the purpose that confronts the lies and the devils. It’s the purpose that holds them accountable and challenges every untruth. It’s the purpose that helps them pick up the pieces and start again when they relapse. Purpose doesn’t care if you like me, or if I’m popular, or even if I feel like dealing with the mess again. Purpose keeps on keeping on-because it is God-driven, God-fueled, and it knows the Law of Guaranteed Harvest:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” - Galatians 6:9
God-given purpose knows that if we just won’t quit, we’ll win!
Understand this, no matter what my specific gifts, abilities or talents, my primary purpose is to make it hard for those in my realm of influence to go to hell! Lose sight of that and we become, as Paul said, an annoying noise!
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
When our purpose--our ‘calling’, our ‘ministry’, our ‘gift’-- becomes ‘our purpose,’ instead of the lost, hurting and next generation to whom we have been called, then we miss the whole purpose of ‘our purpose’! When ‘my ministry’, ‘my gift’, ‘my calling’ are ‘my focus’ instead of my God-given purpose, it’s all about me! Purpose is all about my Father!
Purpose requires me to look beyond me.
I leave 'self-serving' behind as I grow in trusting Him. In the colonial empire days of Great Britain, the Queen asked a successful businessman to go abroad on her behalf and help the empire’s business interests succeed. The businessman told her he would gladly do that, but he was concerned about what would happen to his businesses in Great Britain. The Queen replied, “If you will look after my interests there, I will take care of your interests here.” She offered him a win-win situation. That’s what God offers us when we connect to our God-given purpose—He will take card of our interests and we just focus on His. There is no room for self-focus in connecting to purpose.
Self-focus also causes us to pollute purpose by seeking approval or applause from men. If we forget our primary purpose, we will serve because we want to be noticed, feel needed, or like the attention; and we will quit serving because we weren’t noticed, didn’t feel needed, or weren’t given the attention we thought we deserved. Paul taught that actually nullifies our serving!
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” - Galatians 1:10
Not only that, but Jesus taught us that if we serve to please people, then whenever people choose to be pleased by our service, then we have all the reward we will ever get!
“Be careful! When you do good things, don’t do them in front of people to be seen by them. If you do that, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 6:1
Our purpose, our service is to the Lord, not for the attention or praise of men. And when our primary purpose is on target, when we simply “work at telling others the Good News,” we are the sweet fragrance of Jesus to a lost and hurting world!
“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” - 2 Corinthians 2:15
We'll continue with the final part of this discussion next Thursday at 1PM (EST).