I am not the smartest person that ever walked the planet. For example, one day I wanted to make coffee. Someone once told me, to make the best coffee, you have to grind the beans freshly. So, I stopped getting ground coffee and opted for the whole bean variety. At the time, I was getting ready to go out and pick up a new bag of coffee for my newly enlightened journey towards the perfect cup and asked my wife if we had a grinder. She told me we did, so I took off with haste to find the best bag of whole bean coffee I could find. After obtaining the coffee, I hurried home to grind it and find out if there was a difference.
The problem? I had no idea where the grinder was. So, I searched throughout the cabinets until I found (what I thought) was the elusive coffee grinder. I ground up my coffee the best I could, threw it in a French press (this was also recommended to me as opposed to my Keurig), and we were off. I grabbed a good book, sat down, and looked at the frothy top of my freshly brewed cup of coffee, waiting for it to cool down to the perfect temperature. I took my first sip, waiting to feel the enlightened glory shine down, and immediately spit it out.
Upon coming home, I told my wife, coffee grinder in hand, I used the coffee grinder, but it made my coffee taste awful. To my chagrin, I learned I used the spice grinder, previously used for hot peppers, to grind my coffee. I used it for a purpose other than what it had.
Purpose tends to be a very ambiguous word. Sometimes we think we know what it means (usually when God is moving), and sometimes we feel like the word comes from a different language. At one time or another, we have either been engaged in our purpose, ran from it, searched for it, or became lost in it.
We end up asking a lot of questions:
What do I do with my life?
What is the purpose of my life?
I believe God designed each one of us with a specific purpose. For us to better find and engage with our God-given mission, I think there are four pitfalls that we must avoid.
We don’t like process. We are in the microwave generation. Everything has to be now, and it has to be my way. If it takes longer than a few minutes, we don’t want it. We get stuck in the process.
Do you remember little Jesus? We never talk about Him much, because we only saw Him one time. In Luke 2:41-52, we see Jesus at 12 years old. He is in the temple, speaking of the wonders of God. He is schooling the teachers on the mysteries of Heaven, but He forgot one thing: He didn’t tell Momma Mary. He forgot to report back.
Growing up, we had walkie talkies. I had to check in on my walkie talkie every 30 minutes. It did not matter that we were the only house anywhere near because it was the middle of Iowa. I still had to check-in. Jesus did not check-in. And so, Mary starts to look for Him and finds Jesus in the temple.
Look what it says in Luke 2:48 (NIV), “His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
She is mad. Why are you treating me this way? Why did you run off? We have been worried sick. And so, Jesus responds, “I was doing My father’s business.” We do not hear from Jesus again for 18 years. Gone. Off the map. Why?
Because in verse 51-52, it says, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Some of you need to submit yourself into a process of obedience so you can grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.
Just because you have the ability does not mean it is time for the platform. God cares more about your character than your gifting. He isn’t going to put you onto a platform that your character cannot sustain.
There is a process for your purpose.
We have two dogs, Aspen and Thaddeus. They are wonderful. We found Thaddeus online from a shelter who had rescued him, and his litter covered in mange, cigarette burns, and wrapped in barbed wire left for dead in the woods. When we found out about his story, we immediately called and said, “We will take him. Where are you? I will come now.”
We went and got this dog. Now, they had warned us He was “Special.” That was an understatement. Because of his pain and trauma, he forgot how to be a dog.
This dog was scared of everything.
His past had determined his purpose.
It has taken us two years of training, love and commitment to help him relearn his purpose: just to be a dog. He had to relearn how to be a dog.
Some of you are letting your past determine your purpose. You are standing here, letting the pain, the trauma and the emotional destruction that you went through plan for your purpose. You have to relearn how just to be you again.
In 1 Samuel 17, you find David visiting his brothers on the frontlines of battle. In the process he gets tangled up with a guy named Goliath. And this shepherd boy rejects the armor and power of the King to go to a stream to get stones for his slingshot. Like it does not make sense.
And it says in 1 Sam. 17:40 (NLT), “He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.”
The word “armed” means “to be equipped with.” Ready to defend. He was strapped. I’m good with being armed until I find out what he was armed with a shepherd’s staff and sling. A giant v.s. a shepherd’s staff and sling.
What happens when the very thing God is going to use is in your hand? Because God has provided the provision to you for the battle. God armed you with that specific trait or personality. The very thing you might think is a weakness could very well be the very thing God wants to use.
Don’t discount the provision and forgo your purpose because people are not celebrating what you are equipped with.
What if David had rejected his purpose because of the perceived lack of provision?
Verse 50-51 says, “So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.”
Triumphant with only the very thing you are counting out is what God is counting on. It reiterates that he still did not have a sword. And then David takes Goliath’s sword and cuts off his head. The weapon that he had won in the battle — his own enemy’s weapon.
Some things are going to happen only if you stay faithful to fight the battle that is in front of you now. When that giant falls, and you win that battle, you will get the very weapon you need to cut off the head off of your enemy’s head.
Today’s warfare will produce tomorrow’s weapons. Quit worrying about when the next provision is going to come. Where the next weapon will come from and fight the battle in front of you because when that giant falls, he will drop his sword, and you will be able to walk over and take his sword. From this point on, David never uses a slingshot again to defeat enemies. He uses a sword and then becomes the captain over thousands carrying a sword. Not a weapon he made for himself in the pasture, but the weapon he got from the last battle he fought.
Where is the next connection going to come from? The next breakthrough? The next success? So worried about the provision for your purpose. God is sitting here saying, “If you would just do what I asked you to do with what I gave you, then I will present you with a trophy for your next battle.” Too many people are trying to plan the provision for their purpose instead of engaging with the provision He already provided.
Without the shepherd’s staff, he never would have gotten to the slingshot.
Without the slingshot, he never would have gotten to the sword.
Without the sword, he would never have gotten to the crown.
For even David, who fulfilled his purpose…
See potential and purpose are two different things. They are connected, but not the same.
This might mess with some of your theology this morning. Jesus never reached His potential. He never did. Jesus had the potential to be the next Caesar. He had the potential to be the next great Pharisee. He had the potential to be just the best carpenter. He had the potential to be a tax collector. He had the potential to lead the Zealots against Rome. He had a lot of potential, but only one purpose. Jesus did not fulfill all of His potential because He focused on the purpose which He fulfilled when He stretched His arms to a cross-bearing death for the world to bring life.
Look at Saul in Acts 9:1-9 (NRSV), “Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from Heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so, they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days, he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
Saul is out there, breathing threats and murder. He is killing followers of Jesus. He is fulfilling his potential. Then God steps in, blinds him from his potential so he could realign with his purpose.
Some of you feel like you can’t see straight, but it might be because God is blinding you to your potential so you can see your purpose.
People may have seen your potential as Saul, but God sees your purpose as Paul. You are running around trying to fulfill all of your potential and are amazed why you are tired. You are running around trying to achieve all of your potential and wonder why there is a wake of death around you.
My family is falling apart.
My finances are falling apart.
My marriage is falling apart.
My career is falling apart.
My emotional state is falling apart.
Maybe everything is falling apart because you are pursuing your potential and not your purpose.
So, you’re sitting here thinking what if they just saw my potential!? Maybe they do you see your potential, but they’re focused on your purpose because they know that if they feed into the potential that it will be deadly to the purpose that God has given you.
Your potential can keep you from your purpose.
If we can avoid the pitfalls of the process, our past, provision and potential, I know we can all walk in our God-designed purposes for our lives.
Grant J. Reynolds is an innovator, pastor, writer, sought-after conference speaker and dreamer living in Norfolk, VA. Before writing, preaching, and pastoring, Grant's claim to fame was preaching from a tree stump, at 5-years-old, to a packed out playground (yeah...he's a little weird). You can find him on Instagram @grantjreynolds and at Grantjreynolds.com.