I want you to close your eyes (unless you’re driving, of course). Imagine that you’re ninety years old sitting in your recliner thinking about all of the years you’ve lived. You ask yourself, “Did I do anything significant? Did my life really matter? What did I live for? Did I fulfill what the Lord wanted me to do? Why was it important that I lived my life?”
The Lord isn't going to force you to find your calling or His vision for your life. He’s not going to twist your arm or stand over you until you make a move, waiting for you to fulfill His will. In my final years, I hope I can look back on a life well-lived. There's a drive within me that pushes me toward a cause. I'm driven to see the will of the Lord accomplished in the hearts of people. I hope at the end of my life I will have responded to that cause and fulfilled the will of God. Hopefully, this session will give you some insight and practical tips on how to find your God-given vision while living your life devoted to accomplishing God’s will.
I want you to think about this truth: The decisions you’re making right now are creating the answers to those questions that you'll answer at the end of your life. I don’t want you to have to sit in your recliner when you’re ninety and question your effectiveness. You were created by an intentional God who saw purpose for your life. In Psalm 139:14-16, David wrote: “(14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Thine eyes did see my substance. . .” God created you with a divine vision. Even in your mother’s womb, God knew you, and He knew what He wanted your life to be like.
If He’s really such a purposeful God, what’s His vision for your life? That’s the big question that so many are wrestling with today, but most people simply move through life hoping they’ll find that vision in time. They don’t know what the plan is; they simply wake up each day accomplishing whatever they see to do. Although there’s a bit of success even in that, you don’t need to stop there. There’s so much more left for you to accomplish. You can live your life on purpose fulfilling your God-given vision.
The wisest man on earth said in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You may not literally perish if you don’t access your vision, but you will suffer emotionally. Without a God-given vision, your life will be dull, and you will lack passion to pursue the life God intends for you to live. With vision, you can have energy, motivation, endurance, and joy. John 10:10 summarizes this point, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” What has the Lord uniquely designed you to do?
In July of 1950, evangelist G.A. Mangun and his wife, Vesta, pulled into Alexandria, LA. They began leading a group of about forty people at what was then called the First Pentecostal Church of Alexandria. G.A. Mangun had a clear vision. He wasn't just dedicated to the cause, but he was sold out to prayer and fasting. His life’s vision was simply to reach the people of Alexandria. Within six short years, the church multiplied beyond what was ever expected. Over 280 people attended the church.
Through the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the church experienced astronomical change and growth, but there still remained one purpose, one drive, and one message. In the ‘80’s, Pastor Anthony Mangun, who most recently transitioned to the office of bishop, remained focused, driven, and passionate to continue that vision. Today, the church has a membership role of thousands of people and has made a life-changing impact on thousands more around the world.
I had the tremendous privilege of working around Bishop G.A at POA in his last few years of life. I can still remember passing him in the hallways. I would see him usually coming from the prayer room when he would often tell me his famous words, “Don’t look to the left, and don’t look to the right.” This was his way of saying, “Don’t get distracted with the things around you. Just keep moving forward to accomplish the vision the Lord has called you to do.”
God has a vision for your life! When you discover it, I promise it will make all the difference in your life and ministry. Just imagine what you will be able to accomplish! Now that I’ve convinced you that you need this vision, I’m going to offer some practical tips that you can do to bring clarity to that vision.
Taking assessments that delve into your personality and give you a clearer understanding of how God designed you is one of the easiest and fastest ways to bring clarity to the vision that God has for your life. Not everyone has the opportunity to access an assessment because of finances or other personal reasons, so I’m going to give you a few helpful suggestions that are more organic and practical.
1. Calling (Motivation)
The Lord has placed something within you that’s unique. It’s what drives you. It’s what motivates you. It’s what gets you up every day. It’s the calling within you. I want you to take a few minutes and think about what motivates you. What drives you? What feels rewarding to you? What subject keeps you up at night? What do you need in your life in order to be happy and fulfilled?
It's interesting how many people don't tune in to their natural motivations, but those motivations are there for a reason. The unique circumstances in your life, your DNA, your childhood, your family of origin, and other factors shape this within you. When you are determining God’s vision for your life, think about your motivations and callings.
2. Gifting (Strengths)
Romans 12:6 says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us. . .” The word “differing” in this scripture means different and excellent. We all have unique gifts that are needed in the kingdom of God. I could go into depth trying to explain those gifts, but I’ll keep it simple today. I’m talking about gifts in respect to the strengths that God has given you for the purpose of serving others.
When we’re discussing strengths and weaknesses, assessments can definitely help you determine what areas you thrive in. Most people usually have an idea of their strengths deep within themselves, but sometimes your strengths can be difficult to determine. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself that may help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. When considering what your weaknesses are, think about the things you wish you could give up. What drains you and leaves you feeling empty? We all do things we don’t enjoy for the sake of our jobs, but the things that completely expend you are the things that you want to try to move away from as much as possible.
Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? An ambivert is someone with a mixture of introverted and extroverted qualities. How’s your social stamina? Are you able to be with people for long periods of time without becoming overstimulated? Do you have a high volume of ideas? Are you a visionary? There are many other questions I could ask, but think about this: What parts of your work do you enjoy the most and do the best? Where do you excel? What kinds of activities make you the happiest? What types of tasks would you secretly enjoy doing that you’ve never had the chance to do in your church or organization? If you were to ask those closest to you what they think you do best, what would they say? Hopefully, as you wrestle with some of these questions, you better understand your strengths and weaknesses. Although we want to acknowledge our weaknesses, we really want to pour our time, energy, and growth into our strengths.
3. Your Personal History
What have you gone through in life? What hardships have you faced? What education do you have? What jobs have you worked? What has the Lord equipped you for as you’ve journeyed through life? There’s probably a reason you’ve endured some of the things you’ve gone through.
Your calling in life is the motivation, the purpose, or the reason you exist. Your gifting is your strengths. It’s the lens through which that purpose is projected into the world. Your personal history is the training grounds that has equipped you to best use your gifts and fulfill your calling.
Your vision for life comes when your calling, gifting, and personal history collide. Those three subjects point to the sweet spot in life. They will help determine how your calling and gifting is manifested into the world. They are the projected image of what’s to come. Vision should only be considered through the lens of prayer and fasting, but the more you pay attention to the calling of God, the gifts that He’s given you, and the personal history that He’s allowed you to live, the better you’re able to align to the God-given vision that’s true to you.
I have one final exercise to get you started. Ask yourself this question based on your calling, your gifting, and your personal history, “In a perfect world, what do I want my life and ministry to look like in the next three to five years?” Write down a detailed answer to this question, and write it in present tense as if you are already living it. What does your response look like? Once you determine your answer to this question, you will have a better understanding of God’s vision for your life.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.