Purpose #4 – “Gift-Up”
Your fourth and final “primary” purpose in life is to help build God’s Kingdom. Whether you realize it or not, God created you for a special assignment during your time here on earth. This special assignment is unique to you and will cause you to prosper, but ultimately, it pertains to the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
So, to some extent, you can start thinking of yourself as a “special agent” for God. And the exciting news is once you discover your designated assignment and begin executing it, you will feel an overwhelming sense of love, joy, peace, purpose, and fulfillment.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).
Becoming a believer in God, Jesus, and His Word is akin to enlisting in God’s army. Soldiers in a country’s army are expected to:
- obey (follow commands)
- mature (basic training + on-going exercise/discipline)
- serve (chores and work duties)
- perform their special assignment
The same applies to your responsibilities in God’s spiritual army. This analogy is actually very real because, whether you realize it or not, we are all engaged in a spiritual war between God’s army and Satan’s army. God is depending on you to enlist in His army (Purpose #1) and ultimately perform your special assignment here on earth. And like an earthly soldier, once you’re enlisted in God’s army, it’s important that you’re vigilant, and always standing by for duty.
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:4, NIV).
God Has “Shaped” You
God made you unique, one-of-a-kind with distinctive DNA, fingerprints, eye prints, voice print, etc. Likewise, He designed you with unique passions, talents, experiences, and a personality that equip you to successfully perform your tailor-made assignment. Once you understand this reality, your life will take a new turn. You will find intense excitement and significance!
God predetermined what role He wanted you to play here on earth long before He created you. He planned exactly how He wanted you to serve Him and then wired or “shaped” you accordingly. You are the way you are for a specific purpose, ministry, and assignment.
“Your hands shaped me and made me” (Job 10:8, NIV).
- Reveal how God supernaturally designed or “shaped” you to help build His Kingdom (to serve Him and bring Him glory).
- Help you discover and understand “you” more (which, in turn, will help you in your relationships, schooling, job, and in making life’s big decisions).
In other words, your “SHAPE” will give you clues, counsel, and confidence in terms of discovering and conquering your primary purposes in life, as well as your secondary purposes in life. This is existing news!
So, what exactly is “SHAPE” and what is your unique “SHAPE”?
S.H.A.P.E. stands for the following:
S = Spiritual Gifts
H = Heart (passions)
A = Abilities (talents)
P = Personality
E = Experiences
Let’s now briefly unpack each of these five core elements that help provide life-changing insights about you!
A spiritual gift is a special ability or talent given to you by God when you become His child (Purpose #1). This spiritual birthday present is supernatural and specifically designed to equip you for your special assignment.
You can use this gift to serve both inside the church (ministry work to believers) and outside the church (mission work to unbelievers), which we collectively refer to as “Kingdom Work.” When you use God’s spiritual gift, you bring glory to Him and help build His Kingdom by advancing the message about Jesus.
If you are uncertain about your spiritual gift, don’t worry. Various online self-assessments are available to help you discover what it is. Even though these assessments can be helpful, one of the best ways to discover your spiritual gift is by simply experimenting and doing. In other words, try serving in a variety of ways. Over time, you will be able to discern your spiritual gift. Most likely, others will provide affirmation of this gift.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10, NLT).
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, NIV).
God has placed certain desires or passions inside your heart. Know that they are there not by accident, but by design. A good way to think of your passion is to reflect on what drives you. What causes or issues get you fired-up and push you into action? What moves you so deeply it literally keeps you awake at night? Examples of passionate issues or causes include: abortion, addictions, abuse, diseases, education, environment, poverty, racism, violence, and many others.
Which people group do you feel most compassionate about and want to help? For example, is it infants, children, the disabled, divorced, elderly, poor, prisoners, teen moms, unemployed, widowed, etc.? Where do you feel you can make the greatest impact for God?
God has wired each of us with various talents and abilities. Some of these are discovered and learned early in life, whereas others are identified and refined later in life. Examples include:
- Vocational (medical, mechanical, financial, engineering, computers, construction, legal, etc.)
- Music (vocal, instrument, composer, etc.)
- Art (drawing, crafts, photography, multimedia, etc.)
- Sports (basketball, football, golf, running, soccer, tennis, etc.)
- Drama (acting, dancing, writing, radio, etc.)
- Other (counseling, leadership, teaching, cooking, administration, maintenance, etc.)
Your abilities are clues to your ministry (“special assignment”). [NOTE: Your abilities are also clues to your career, which we’ll discuss later when we unpack your secondary purposes in life.] In other words, God gave you these abilities for a divine purpose. Stated differently, God matches your calling with your capabilities.
“There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service” (1 Corinthians 12:6, GNT).
Finally, although your talents or “strengths” are important to advancing God’s Kingdom, it is interesting and encouraging to note that your “weaknesses” are also essential to God. He deliberately permitted certain weaknesses in your life to demonstrate His awesome power through you. In fact, the Bible is filled with ordinary and imperfect people who God used to do extraordinary things despite their individual weaknesses.
“And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NKJV).
Similar to how God created us all with unique DNA, fingerprints, and eye prints, He designed each of us with a one-of-a-kind personality. Understanding your unique personality will energize you to be yourself and to express your spiritual gifts, heart, and abilities more effectively. It is clear God loves variety and He made you to be you!
- Introverts versus extroverts
- People-oriented versus task-oriented
- Routine-focused versus variety-focused
- Thinkers versus feelers
- Detail-oriented versus high-level
Your personality will have a direct effect on how and where you use your spiritual gifts, passions, and abilities. When you minister in a manner that is consistent with the personality God gave you, you will experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness.
“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within…” (1 Peter 3:4a, NLT).
Our experiences, both good and bad, teach us a lot about God, ourselves, and our callings. In fact, God uses our experiences to help shape and equip us for our special assignments. There are several kinds of “experiences” such as:
- Growing-up experiences
- Family experiences
- Education experiences
- Work experiences
- Spiritual experiences
- Painful experiences
What’s interesting to note is God often uses the “painful” experiences the most to prepare you for His Kingdom work. We can gain comfort and confidence from this that God never wastes pain!
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).
Discovering and Developing Your “Shape” and “Special Assignment”
Now that you have gained an awareness of your unique SHAPE, it is time for you to begin discovering and developing your SHAPE. The Bible states if you ask and seek (in this case, insights about your SHAPE and your special assignment), God will reveal it to you.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NIV).
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will [your “special assignment”]” (Romans 12:2, NIV) [Emphasis added].
Take some time to review the above commentary about each of the SHAPE components to begin your self-discovery process. Do not sweat if you still have questions or are unsure about your various gifts, passions, and abilities. Oftentimes, the best way to discover these is by experimenting and putting them into practice. Therefore, try serving in a variety of areas inside and outside the church.
If you still don’t know where to begin, another good idea is to take an online self-assessment to help identify and evaluate your actions, attitudes, and abilities in certain areas. There are many online spiritual gift tests, ability assessments, and even self-assessments specific to the S-H-A-P-E methodology.
Finally, if you truly want to develop your SHAPE, the key is to use your talents. The more you use them the stronger they will become. For example, you may start out as a “good” singer, teacher, coach, or builder, but with time and practice, you should strive to become a “master” singer, teacher, coach, or builder.
Building God’s Kingdom
To recap, the primary purpose of your unique SHAPE is to help build God’s Kingdom; but of course, these traits equally apply to your secondary purposes in life (job, marriage, hobbies, goals, etc.). For now, we will keep the focus on the primary purpose of building God’s Kingdom. Later, we will address the application of your SHAPE to your secondary purposes.
Kingdom work is all about introducing people to God, telling them how they can have the gift of eternal life, and sharing God’s plans and purpose for their lives. This is literally the “greatest news” in the world! For instance, if you discovered the cure for cancer, you would want to share this great news with the world, right? Well, the same applies to the cure for the life-threatening disease called “sin.”
There are countless ways to do that, but a few notable and practical examples include:
- Serving within the church (singing, teaching, committees, counseling, maintenance, etc.)
- Serving outside the church (mission trips, feeding/helping the poor, volunteering, etc.)
- Sharing the gospel message about Jesus, your personal testimony (your life before and after accepting Jesus), and your newfound purpose in life with your friends, family, work/school colleagues, neighbors, and ultimately even strangers
Kingdom work represents God’s goal of redeeming human beings from Satan and reconciling them to Himself. In other words, God wants His “lost children” to be found. It’s also very important to understand that there are people on this earth whom only “you” will be able to reach. This is because of where you live, go to work or school, hangout, and how God has uniquely SHAPED you!
Let’s also remember that even Jesus had a special assignment while He was here on earth, which was to redeem mankind from sin and death by shedding His blood on the cross. The Bible states Jesus’ final words before dying were “It is finished” (Matthew 19:20). The Bible states Jesus rose from the dead 3 days after He was buried and continued teaching and preaching for another 40 days prior to ascending back into heaven. In Jesus’ final words before His ascension, He handed the “building God’s Kingdom” baton to His followers.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, ESV).
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).
In summary, Jesus has secured your salvation (ticket-to-heaven), made you a member of God’s family (which includes all the family benefits), provided you with His Spirit (Holy Spirit), and now, bestowed upon you the honor of making you His special agent in this world. Although your special assignment from God is a big responsibility, it is also an amazing privilege. For example, if just one person gets to heaven because of you, your life will have made a huge difference. Never forget some people on this earth can only be reached by you. This is because of where you live, work, go to school, your unique friends, hobbies, and daily pathway. They are your responsibility!
When you begin living out your primary purposes in life (i.e., to “God-Up,” “Group-Up,” “Grow-Up,” and “Gift-Up”), the rest of your life will become the best of your life! So, begin living your purpose-driven life today!
EXTRA: Your Secondary Purposes in Life
Now that we have finalized the four “primary” purposes in your life (God-Up, Group-Up, Grow-Up, and Gift-Up), let’s spend a moment discussing your “secondary” purposes in life. These secondary purposes are not spiritually-focused, but are still very important and personal to people’s lives such as decisions related to what vocation or career to pursue, what key relationships to make (e.g., who one should marry or should they even get married), where to live, where to go to school, which employer to work for, what hobbies to entertain in life, etc. The good news is the above SHAPE assessment equally applies to helping you gain insights into all of these secondary life choices. Of course, you should also always seek God’s guidance through pray in making your various secondary life choices. However, please recognize that God is most concerned about your primary purposes in life and presumably allows much more flexibility, freedom, and free-will with regards to your choices and decisions related to your secondary purposes in life.
Congratulations! You have completed all the reading related to helping you gain insights into your purpose in life! We hope you have found it to be enjoying, eye-opening, and energizing.
The below infographic summarizes the key aspects of your fourth & final primary purpose in life.