5 ignition points for personal passion | strengths
Believing God is sovereign in all things leads me to affirm his preparation for life. He spoke these words over Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). King David wrote a similar thought: "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).
One of our ignition points for personal passion must be the way our creator wired us for life. What a thrilling affirmation, the intricate care he exhibits in forming and shaping us. Even more, just imagine what the world would be like if every human knew and used the unique traits he wove into each of us. Sadly, few of us enter this journey with such a definitive schematic of our personal strengths. Many of us stumble through life and miss our intended purpose because we don't even think about or reflect on how he engineered us. The biblical image of the potter and the clay is a vivid portrayal of his hands shaping and molding the human species. Overarching that, however, is a picture of the physicist of the universe linking nerves and muscles and synapses and bones and atoms to create us.
There are ways to estimate our particular strengths, how he prepared us for life. He has included hints is our super-structure so that we can come close to knowing our individual bent. They include---
1. yearnings: the inner voice that compels us toward strength areas
2. satisfactions: things that bring us great happiness and joy
3. learning: areas of life we enjoy studying and where we learn quickly
4. excellence: things that we do well and achieve easily
5. feedback: the input and affirmation of others
When coaching pastors, church staffs, in pre-marital counseling, and in most other areas of personal consulting I strongly advise those under counsel to purchase StengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press: New York, 2007), and take the Clifton Strength Finder Inventory. It is a very accurate assessment of personal strengths and provides a reliable base-line for determining the personal strength array we brought kicking and screaming into this world. When the inventory is completed, a listing of the top five strengths (Signature Themes) will be given. They're explained beginning on page 37. Over the years I've seen many people super-charged by recognizing their strengths. Are they accurate? Shoot, when my mother read my list years ago she said, "I knew that about you when you were two years old".
Knowing your personal strengths is one of the three elements of what I like to call Your Package, how God prepared you for the life he intended. In believers it is the dynamic interplay of our personal strengths, our spiritual gifts, and Christ in us. With these in mind, we can then proceed to develop a personal mission statement for life. In this regard, I recommend How to Find Your Mission in Life by Richard Bolles (Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, 1991 and 2000). Bolles is a captain of industry and the author of the international best-seller What Color is Your Parachute? (Ten Speed Press: New York, updated annually). He is also a believer and writes from a Christian world-view.
Personal mission statement? Why not? Certainly God made each of us for a purpose. Our mission statement would be the final product of our conviction, vision, calling, strengths, and spiritual gifts (to be discussed tomorrow), what I 've termed the 5 ignition points of personal passion. Like the Bible verses framed on my wall, right in front of me (Ministry Verses, Life Verses, Passion Verse), they are the stable, consistent mile-markers for the road ahead. They are not circumstantial, do not rely on ministry locales or settings, and are the unchanging pointers in every ministry decision. My personal mission statement is:
My mission is to serve and encourage highly transitional churches and their spiritual
leaders so that his church can effectively represent him in their ministry setting.
It hasn't sold ten milion copies or been the subject of an award winning movie. But, it has guided me in pastoral ministry and denominational service for 35 years. It is the Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren, Zondervan, 2002). according to me, to borrow a famous thought.
Over the years, and more recently in retirement, I've been impressed with how many lives and ministries have been fueled when personal strengths are discovered and personal mission is clarified. The church in America, and sadly, the people who lead them, are in a something of a funk right now. There's a good bit of concern about declining trend lines, a more organized and aggressive secularism, and an anti-Christian bias that even people on the left are recognizing. Our best hearts and minds are assessing, analyzing, calculating, strategizing, and praying about how this slope can be reversed.
Revival, yes! The Great Commission, yes! Prayer, yes! Church planting, yes! Revitalization, yes! But, it's Occams Razor. William of Ockham (1287-1347) was a Franciscan friar who developed a simple but profound problem solving technique. He proposed that the solution with the fewest assumptions was the most basic and effective. In my opinion knowing our personal strengths and charting a personal mission statement may be that simplest solution. Imagine America where every pastor was in a situation where he could (1) utilize his personal strengths to the max, and (2) fulfill his mission in life.
Talk about igniting personal passion!