In this life, we desire for our life to matter, to have significance. This isn’t a bad thing. We want what we do to have value. While we may be distracted for a while by doing what is fun or what is easy, none of this can give us ongoing fulfillment.
There have been many books, talks and trainings given on these subjects, so I won’t go into detail on this. John Piper has spent a significant amount of time focusing on the topic and his “Seashells” talk and short book, Don’t Waste Your Life are highly recommended.
In my experience, the only things that we can spend our life on of eternal value are our own relationship with God and work that impacts other human souls positively for the Kingdom. It is good to meet human need and to serve the needs of others, but if we don’t impact their eternity, we haven’t truly shown them love.
When we consider how we can spend our time practically in a way that accomplishes those goals, there are three main generic paths that we might fit into:
- Find our life’s passion and give our life to that. This is our own personal vision statement for us working with the Father to change the world. Many pastors fulfill this as well as some significant individuals who have seen a problem or something that was a true need and dedicated their lives (or a significant portion of their lives) to solving that problem or moving in that direction. Eugene Peterson has an excellent book that talks about the value of this, Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Most of those who do this are not famous, but over the course of many years, they make a significant impact in the area the Lord has given them to serve in.
- The second area could be called the Experiencing God directive. Find where the Lord is working and leverage who you are with your giftings and abilities for the good of that work. This fits some people better than the first one. They are not people who are starters and they don’t have the patience and diligence to stick with something over many years, but they are good at jumping in and helping in a significant way when they see God already at work in a church, ministry or community. God uses people like this in amazing ways to help move His work forward in significant ways while these people are involved or just to fill temporary needs so the work can continue.
- In this third area, it isn’t about the structure but about taking advantage of relational opportunities. This is a people-first way of impacting the world. Some people seem to always have their radar up for the people around them and can sense their spiritual needs and know how to respond. This could be through providing prayer, wisdom, discipleship or good counsel. Sometimes it is seeing practical needs in the life of someone and helping to meet those needs. People with this gifting make an impact over and over again in many different lives wherever they are. It isn’t so much about their job or ministry assignment, but the people they encounter regardless of what they are doing.
These are 3 generic definitions for ways to impact the world and give your life to things that really matter. Some significant callings can fit all three. If you are a parent, you have been called to have an impact on the lives of your children that lasts a lifetime. If you are a spouse, your relationship with your husband and wife is a part of this journey and you can impact each other as well as the world together.
God knows the hunger we have to be used by Him. When you are young, it can be paralyzing to think about God’s will or call for your life. Some have a concern about whether they are giving their lives to the right thing. Whether you feel confident that you have found your passion or place to serve, or you are still looking for that, God is still at work and has something for you to do. The book, Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung, provides some helpful encouragement for all of us to get busy with serving the Lord through our lives, work and community.
What you do today can matter for eternity. Start today by spending time with the Lord and then go out and look for those opportunities around you to make a difference. You won’t regret it!