The wisest man in the Bible tells us that ‘the end of a something is better than the beginning of it’ (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
It’s easy to start something – a novel, a project, a business, a relationship – but sustaining it to its best conclusion can be a challenge. Experience and time teaches us that some things should not be finished. But those that should deserve our best effort. Discerning which is which can be a challenge and, for someone like me, plagued with the ‘paralysis of analysis’, just deciding can be exhausting.
The exercises we did before this our final meeting were designed to build upon the previous ones, with a view to focusing outward. How can becoming our best selves, discovering and living our purposes, help us to serve others? How can who we are, what we are passionate about, what we are gifted to do, benefit others?
Where do we serve?
What am I doing now, to build up and bless the body of Christ in my local church? I’m involved in prayer ministry, women’s discipleship, I sing on a praise team that leads worship the first Sunday of every month, I’m a member of a small group that meets weekly, I contribute to our church’s Food Bank.
We were asked to think about and write about anything we felt God was encouraging us to do, areas in which to involved ourselves, ways in which to apply our gifts and talents. My answer to this was to think about our next Women’s Ministry event in November. A small cluster of women at our church has been exposed to many different teachings, churches and experiences. We each have a heart for our sisters to experience more – a richer, deeper connection with Jesus than is available through regular Sunday morning services, or the various activities our church offers.
There are many good things that local churches are doing. Our heart’s desire is to help each woman discover her own unique purpose – not merely to do what needs to be done, or to say ‘yes’ when someone asks her to help with some activity. The good is the enemy of the best.
There is a quote by Howard Thurman in one of the exercises in the Unleash Your Passions: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
We made and shared our Bucket List – a list of 10 where and what things. Mine included a trip to the Holy Land to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, a trip to Costa Rica for the scenery and the coffee, to ride the Orient express, a wine and food tour of the south of France, hot air ballooning somewhere exotic, and a visit to Tiera del Fuego, just to see it.
We then expanded our dreams to encompass every area of our lives: Work, Living Arrangements, Personal Growth, Money, Community, Family, Health & Recreation and God. Andrea asked each of us to choose one area to share. She asked questions, made lists, and helped us to determine what was most important and why, and those elements which were desirable but less vital. It was an eye-opening exercise that really dug beneath the surface of our dreams and why we had them.
Designing Your Life Message
This was another challenging one for me, as I don’t have a clear and concise vision for my life. Taking this course and being part of this purpose group has helped me think about this and clarify some ideas, but I was not ready to make a definite statement.
What did I do? I wrote my obituary. Two versions. The first, what I thought someone might say about me if I died right now. The second, what I wanted someone to say about me when I died someday in the future.
I was hesitant to share this; both obits were kind of long and time was running short. But a lovely young woman sitting next to me, a fellow purpose group member, took the sheet out of my hand and read what I had written. Beautifully, I might add.
I was embarrassed, yes. But I was encouraged when Andrea stated that the obituary that I wanted and hoped could be said of me was, in fact, the way she saw me.
It was a powerful session – one we enjoyed over a shared pot luck meal. It was our sixth and last meeting, yes, but not the end of the journey, for any of us. We are already planning a reunion in November. And we have each committed to following this purpose journey – wherever it may lead us, being there for each other, knowing Andrea is available to coach us further, and trusting God to take us where He wants us to go.