In my last blog post (God’s Dream for You, Part 1), I talked about how God has a purpose for everyone. We looked at examples from the Bible of characters who had unpredictable purposes, we looked at verses that spoke about God’s never-failing love for us, and we left off on the idea that your main purpose as a Christian is to spread that love everywhere you go. Let’s dig into that.
“God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.” – Philippians 2:13
God has a unique plan, and because he has a unique plan, he made a unique person (you) to carry it out. Not only does God know what you desire; he GAVE you those good desires. Your deepest desires are where you can find your purpose.
Jon Jorgenson is a speaker, writer, and YouTuber. Back in 2016, he posted a vlog titled “How to find your calling”, and he gives us two questions to reflect on:
What am I good at?
In his video, he acknowledges that it can be difficult to answer this question, not because we just don’t know, but it seems like we are bragging. Keep in mind, however, that you aren’t bragging about yourself. You are acknowledging the gifts that God has given you to fulfill his plan for you. Think about your talents and what you enjoy doing.
What makes me angry?
In other words, what keeps you up at night? What do you see happening in the world that makes you say, “someone should do something about that”? Whatever you notice that is “wrong” with the world might be the thing that God is calling you to change.
Here are a few examples:
Jon Jorgenson noticed how Christians treated youth in his community and decided to speak out against it, calling for equal treatment of youth and lifting them up through writing and public speaking.
Cristobal Almanza is an artist who has a passion for creating, teaching, and sharing. He uses his art to inspire others and bring out the beauty of the Catholic faith.
Jim Stovall is a writer and a speaker who went blind in college. When he had lost his sight, he turned on a movie and thought, “Man, wouldn’t it be nice if someone put voiceovers in movies so blind people could know what was happening?” Now he runs a company called Narrative Television Network where he does just that.
Matt Maher is a singer who lives out his purpose through music. His music offers inspiration from Bible passages, reflection on how Christians are supposed to live, and praise to our loving God.
Christopher West uses his speaking and writing abilities to inspire others through JPII’s “Theology of the Body” to help people understand the purpose of marriage, love, and sexuality.
These are just a few examples of people who are using the talents and desires that God gave them to bring change to the world. Researching these, I realized that those sound amazing, but I wanted to know about the people in my community and what they thought. I started with the kids at Vacation Bible School.
Some wanted to inspire people with music. Some wanted to help cure sick people with big diseases. Some wanted to use their knowledge of computers and robotics to make learning easier. Some wanted to help animals. Some wanted to be parents.
Next, I asked my siblings, Simon, Spencer, and Stephanie.
Simon said he wanted to use his passion for music to evangelize. Spencer said he wanted to learn to be a pilot, and maybe even fly in the Army one day. Stephanie said she wanted to comfort sad people and likes the idea of being a therapist.
Finally, I asked the students at the high school youth group what they thought.
Some wanted to stop bullying in their schools. Some wanted to help special needs kids with their education. Some wanted to serve in the Army. Some wanted to help children learn to read.
Everyone had different answers and different reasons why they wanted to pursue that calling. Here are some personal examples on how my passions for music, acting, and public speaking were brought to life for me.
I have always loved music, but I didn’t take it seriously until I was about fourteen years old. I was at a business conference, and at these conferences, we always have some form of entertainment. This one in particular had teens playing musical instruments. One of them was a boy named Caleb, who played “He’s a Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean on the piano. Listening to him play, something clicked, and soon after I became a passionate piano player. That desire and love for music ultimately led me to be a part of my church choir, and later, part of a youth praise and worship band.
Acting is a little bit fuzzy. I remember when I was younger, I would see people on television and thinking that they were just pictures in a box. But as soon as I found out that they were real people performing, I realized that I wanted to do that too. I started with a local homeschooling group and put on a play about Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was the narrator, which frustrated me because I wanted to show the story, not tell the story. But God blessed me with a creative mind, and I thought of another way I could act. I was allowed to bring my script on stage and read it from the ambo, but I had memorized the whole thing. So I just stood at the ambo, recited my lines, and looked down, acting like I was reading the lines from the script. Now, this might not sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that I was seven at the time, I had the most lines in the play, and this was my first play, so I was really proud of myself. (Also, the look on the directors’ face when she realized that I did this without a script was priceless.) Since then, I have acted in a variety of plays, including A Christmas Carol, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Young Sherlock, and Anne of Green Gables. I hope to use my acting to bring laughter, joy, and hope into the world.
Public speaking was a more recent discovery. I have gone to leadership conferences since I was twelve, and before that, I listened to talks by Mark Gorman (a motivational speaker and evangelical preacher) and Bob McEwen (a former Congressman and advisor to several US Presidents). It didn’t really occur to me that I wanted to speak until the summer of 2017, when I led Bible Discovery at Vacation Bible School. After that week at VBS, I wrote this piece to share with my high school group to encourage them in their journey of finding what they want to do. I hear so many stories of students not knowing what they want to do with their lives, and it broke my heart. I hope to share hope, joy, and encouragement by writing and speaking at youth ministries and conferences.
I don’t know where you are on the path to finding God’s dream for you, however, I have some practical tips that may help you.
1. Pray about it
This is perhaps the most important. God made you, and He knows you intimately. He knows your passions and your purpose, even if you don’t know it yet.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
God knows His plans for you, whether you know them or understand them or not. Go to Him for guidance. Remember, God loves you and knows your purpose. You know God. So keep hoping, keep praying, because God has your back.
2. Try a club
Trying out different clubs or activities can help you discern what you truly love doing and what you are really good at. Experiment, try new things! Find a club or class that you are interested in and then stick with it.
3. Work with kids
Volunteer at a daycare, VBS, RE/CCD, YMCA, babysitting… anything with kids!
A couple of reasons for this one. First, you might be called to be a parent! You might grow a love for kids and find that your vocation involves being a parent, teaching, being a nanny, etc. Second, you might get some new idea because you played with kids. J.M. Barrie played with kids that lived down the street from him, and by playing with them and listening to them, he wrote the classic Peter Pan. Maybe their imagination will inspire you to do something big!
4. When Discerning Marriage:
When you date, take it seriously. Simple as that.
5. When Discerning the Religious Life:
Visit/study at a seminary or a convent.
6. Interview people that have already discerned their vocation.
Whether you interview people in the religious life (i.e. priests, nuns, deacons, Franciscans, Dominicans, missionaries, etc.) or married life, you can get some amazing advice for discerning and finding your vocation.
7. Join a ministry at your church
Make a 1-year commitment to doing something new, a different way to give, serve, and love other people. This might mean altar serving, choir, prayer groups, youth ministry, art and environment… the options are endless! Pick something and stick to it. Commitment is an important part of finding your calling.
8. Find service projects
Volunteer at soup kitchens, food pantries, charities, etc. You might find that your work lies with the poor and needy. Remember, it is always better to give than to receive.
9. Take comfort in the fact that your passions can change, and that is totally okay.
God may have a purpose that is too much for you to comprehend right now, so He will give you smaller dreams to grow your mind to the point where you will accept that bigger purpose.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is washing his disciples feet, and when Peter starts to argue, Jesus says:
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
This verse brings me such comfort. It might be hard to accept or understand what Jesus is doing in our lives, but He invites us to rest knowing that He has a plan for our lives.
God has a plan for you.
God’s got it under control.
You have a purpose.
— Shae John Bosco