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As I hope you know, God’s Word is the starting place for the person looking to fulfill their niche in life. Peter said something rather profound when he talked about God and His knowledge. All life matters come from knowing God, which we can only perceive through His written Word. He said it this way:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).
If you’re trying to figure out what you want to be after you grow up, you must have a relationship with God (John 3:7). He is the giver of life and the provider of the skills we need to do life well. As Christians, we have the privilege to model something the world does not know because we are the purest form of image-bearing. I do not mean this arrogantly but merely matter-of-factly. Because of our restored relationship with our Creator, we can reflect Him more perfectly than others can. The culture does not have that option.
Of course, we don’t look down on our non-believing friends because whatever we possess, it is a gift from God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Without a relationship with the Lord, they can only rely on self-imaging for their benefit, self-promotion, and self-glory. The Christian is empowered to be God-centered for His fame. One of the ways you can do this—assuming you’re a believer—is through the skills He has given you. Unfortunately, too many Christians are perplexed about what they are supposed to do with their lives.
Let’s assume you are a Christian in good standing with God. I mean that you’re walking in humility, which you can do if you’re a confessional Christian (1 John 1:9). You always want to remove anything in your life that would incur the Lord’s opposition (James 4:6). Thus, your goal is not to live a perfect life but a confessional one. You’re regularly repenting to keep a clean record with God. By so doing, you will receive His empowering favor.
A confessional Christian is ready to tackle the two most vital questions around this idea of figuring out what they want to be in God’s world. They are (1) what you’re supposed to do with your life and (2) how to get there. Do you know what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Do you know how to get on that path so that you can fulfill the custom-made calling with your unique gifting?
One of the privileges I have is to help men and women figure out these two questions. If you follow this advice, you could be well on your way to the best possible vocational life that a person can have. As they say, “When you do the thing you love, you will never work again.” It’s not true, but I do understand the point. If you do the thing you love, you will work harder than you ever have because you love it so much, and you’ll be in higher demand because you’re good at what you do.
Let’s start with the first question: what are you supposed to be doing with your life? Someone once asked, “What do you think about when you are walking to the mailbox? What is that thing you think about when you have nothing else to think about?” Whatever that thing is that gravitationally pulls your mind toward it is more than likely what you’re supposed to be doing.
Perhaps you’re not explicitly clear on what it is. Most folks are not. For me, it had to do with people, but that’s a vague answer. I have always been curious about people. I’m fascinated by them. Why do they do what they do? What is their story? Where did they come from, and how did their past lives and friends shape them? People are intriguing to me.
From that vague preoccupation, my life began to take a specific interest in people. Because of my pathetic childhood, the gravitational pull of my life started moving toward the underdog. I wanted to help folks who were stuck, downcast, victimized, and hurting in some way. Do you see something developing here? My mind had an insatiable curiosity about people; then, my shaping influences brought more precision to that direction: I wanted to help hurt people.
Perhaps you’re unsure what you think about when you have nothing to ponder. If so, talk to someone about this because your mind is not an empty vacuum. Something makes you tick. Once you figure out that thing, even in its most ambiguous and conceptual form, you want to place it in the middle of your brain like a dot in the center of a paper.
For example, our oldest daughter is a reader, writer, and poet (of sorts). She loves people and their stories, which is a passion that provides a direction for her life. Our son is more hands-on—an active doer who is always curious about how things work. Our daughter is forming a career in social media and marketing. Our son is leaning into technology and video production. Who knows where they may end up, but they do have a general direction.
Once you identify the dot in the middle of your paper, it should be like a magnetic lodestar: everything in your orbit naturally clings to it. This picture will keep your focus on what you should be doing with your life. My ambiguous dot was people, which evolved into helping them, which turned into counseling them, which turned into training them, which is where I am today.
It will be crucial for you not to focus on the end game but instead on the start of the process. It’s potentially arrogant to predetermine what you’re going to be when you grow up, no matter how assured you think you are. Read James 4:13-15. James says that we should live with an “if the Lord wills” attitude because we have no idea what tomorrow holds for us.
I teach our Mastermind students to think about the end game like a “V.” It’s open-ended at the top and has a definitive starting point at the bottom. Figure out your dot—your starting point, and if the Lord wills, you may do this or that. Some of our students come into our program thinking they will be formalized biblical counselors, only to realize they do not have that type of gift.
If you force a career path that you don’t have the gift for, you will be frustrated and damage others. Too many biblical counselors, who have a genuine burden to help people, are not good at their craft. They hurt folks because they don’t have self-awareness, don’t have the right friends to speak into their lives, or stubbornly hold onto their dreams rather than discerning a more natural path.
What are the necessary parts to help you accomplish what you believe the Lord is calling you to do with your life? These components are the “peripheral points of your dot.” They are the things that feed, support, and promote the primary goal—the dot in the center of the page. After you identify the center point of your life, even in its most blurry form, you want to brainstorm how to get to your dream spot.
Here are a few companions you want to put around your center point. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a few ideas about some of the things you must do to facilitate your life’s passion. Perhaps it would be helpful if you shared these things with a friend so that you both can brainstorm together.
You’ve heard the expression, “Jack of all trades and the master of none.” It could be the scattered, unfocused, undisciplined, and unproductive mantra. This problem is one of the reasons Luke 19:10 is my favorite when it comes to a single-minded, slim-and-trim mission statement. Read this verse, and don’t miss that each word is monosyllabic.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Boom! How simple, clean, direct, to the point, and focused. Jesus did not mess around. He knew His job was not to do everything but one thing: save the world. He stayed on point (Matthew 8:22). The question you need to ask is, “What are the things that will keep me on point?” Whatever those things are, stick to them.
Some people become frustrated with me because I won’t talk to them on social media. They are without understanding. Imagine if I jumped each time someone asked me for something. In the end, I would not accomplish anything. I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and I stick to those things. Once you become a monkey collector, you’ll bury yourself under a mountain of those little fellers.
Every time someone asks you for something, they put a monkey on your shoulders. If you don’t learn the value of saying “no” or don’t have clear guidelines for serving folks, you’ll become everyone’s slave, always jumping at every call for help. That’s the quickest route to burnout—and divorce.
Jesus was not a monkey collector, but He loved people. Do you see the irony here? Nobody would say He did not care for folks, yet nobody managed Him. It’s a skill to love well but not give people everything they want, the way they want it, and when they want it. Do you know how to stay focused on your mission without being unkind or rude about it?
There is a balance between structure and spontaneity. Some folks have so much structure that they miss all the pneumatic moments in their lives. Others are so spontaneous that they never accomplish much because they are all over the map with little focus or direction. If you want to succeed, you must figure out how to stay focused on your mission without being so stringent that there is no joy for you or those who want your help.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).