Us: What Am I Supposed to be Doing Here?
God has created each of us to do significant things with our lives. That’s why we want to know what our purpose in life is and why we feel frustrated when that doesn’t seem to work out. When we find something to do that makes us come alive and meets a need in the world we get a real sense of being blessed…
A little while back when I was a student I was walking on Cape Town’s Table Mountain and saw a Boeing Jumbo jet come roaring overhead. I was awed by the power of the plane’s engines and I decided that one day, I wanted to work in an engineering firm where I could help design such amazing machines. Incredibly, 6 years later I got to work in the Roll-Royce design office helping make the engines for the great Airbus A380. It was exciting and challenging work and very satisfying to be able to use my engineering skills to help transport people to where they need to be—and to do it in an environmentally responsible way.
For those two years I loved my work (I still do, although the work is different now), and I felt right where God wanted me to be – doing stuff that was in line with God’s great job description for all of us in Genesis 1-2.
Let’s check that command out … Try reading Genesis 1 :26-2:25 and listen out for how God gives people things to do—and what those things are.
“God blessed them: ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, or every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’”(The Message)
God creates humans in his image but we were never meant to be static displays on a shelf gathering dust. God blesses us and part of the blessing is a job to do. God has put in us God-like qualities – creativity, intelligence, enthusiasm, compassion, imagination etc – so that we can look after what God has created well.
We have even been given authority to be lords (yes, little ‘l’) of the earth. That’s what ‘rule over it’ means. God has placed us in charge of the earth (and maybe the rest of the universe too when we find a way to travel there??)
To ‘control and rule over’ doesn’t mean bully and exploit (we’ve done way too much of that: shrinking polar caps, human trafficking, polluted oceans are witnesses to how bad we’ve been as caretakers…) To ‘fill and control’ the earth means to tame and to tend. A garden left to itself becomes wild, it needs to be subdued – pruned and cultivated.
This doesn’t mean we need to all go and become farmers or game rangers! Our job includes looking after and making productive everything that has been created – people, natural resources, technology—every part of our world. We are called to use our influence and time and skill to work with what God has already put here.
That engineering job of mine was totally part of God’s original command—just as much as being a youth pastor is for me now.
What about you? What job has God given you as part of the big command to be a caretaker of Creation?
The good news is that God has wired each one of us in a unique way so that the things we have been given to do will feel right and be satisfying for us. Here’s how David described how God forms us:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. Psalm 139v13-16
When I ask young people what they desire most, one of the top things they say is to be able to do something significant in their life that leaves the world a better place. That desire is there because God created us to do significant things with our lives. Good work is deeply satisfying. It is a blessing from God – as strange as that may sound! The right purpose gives our lives meaning. The fact that many people find work boring or even destructive is a sign of how much has gone wrong.
The thing that God has wired you for and calls you to do may or may not be the job you end up doing. Some people work out their calling in other ways, through things they do outside of official ‘work time’. Others find paying jobs that are in line with their sense of calling.
Here are three questions you can ask yourself that are really helpful for figuring out what God might have wired you for and called you to do:
1) What activities make me come alive? What things do I do that make me feel ‘I was made to do this!’
2) What is the world’s greatest need the way I see it?.
3) What things am I good at? What have people told me I do well? What things do I know I do well?
The unique talents, gifts, personality and experience each of us have will work best together and find their most satisfying outlet when we are doing things that answer each of those three questions.
God has created each of us to do significant things. That’s why we want to find our purpose in life and why we feel frustrated when that doesn’t seem to work out. When we find ourselves doing work that makes us come alive and meets a need in the world we get a real sense of being blessed.
Isn’t that an exciting possibility?
In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Read our leaders guide to explore how to get the most out of these four parts.
Download a PDF version of this session here
o What’s the feeling you get when you see the word ‘work’?
o Would you rather work hard in a satisfying job for five years or have an extended 5-year-long holiday?
o What’s your dream job? What kind of work do you hope to be able to do one day?
Get the conversation started …
Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them on the website.)
o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?
o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?
o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?
Read the post in The Story tab.
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o What one thing stood out for you most in what you heard in this session?
o Did anything in this session change or challenge your idea of what work is about?
o What questions does this session raise for you?
o Do you feel hopeful about finding something that gives you a sense of purpose in your life?
Re – draw your picture of Jesus
We know from the gospels that Jesus spent time during his early life learning how to be a carpenter. Carpentry is hard, skilled work – especially without the power tools we have today: you need to know how to use the various tools well; be able to creatively turn an idea into something solid; handle customer orders; work to deadlines.
See if you can imagine Jesus working hard with his father, Joseph in the workshop. What frustrations might there have been? When was discipline to keep working hard needed? What skills did Jesus need to learn? What mistakes and mess-ups were there? What kinds of things were the end product of their labours?
How does this change your idea of what Jesus is like and how he might understand the way you experience your work now?
What practical action, response, thought do you want to take into the week?
Is there something about your attitude towards work or the way you work right now that you need to change? Something you need to do differently? Something you need to ask God to give you the strength to do?
Jesus invites us to repent often and with freedom. It’s a real gift from God – go for it!
Some questions to help you remix your story …
o If you’re still in school the ‘work’ you have to do isn’t always very inspiring. How could you see the work you do as part of God’s calling for your life as a student now?
o What answers would you give at this stage of your life for the three questions about the things that make you come alive, the world’s need, your abilities? If you aren’t sure yet, what could you begin to do to start finding what they are?
From the WordSpace
Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:
If you’ve been listening to pretty much anything in the media when Nelson Mandela died you probably heard someone talking about the kind of person Madiba was: forgiving, humble, caring, gracious, quick to forgive, intolerant of injustice and oppression, willing to reach out and welcome enemies, a strong and wise leader
Nelson Mandela, just like us, was a human being created to reflect a small glimpse of what God is like. Each one of the good things people are saying about Mandela point to the source of grace, wisdom, kindness, justice, love, mercy and forgiveness.
That’s our God!
What’s your idea of God like right now? What qualities has God given you to show off about him?
‘What’s it gonna be? Gotta another theory you want me to hear. Taking your refuge in your reason just to beat the fear – that we don’t know why we’re here’ (Kongos – I Want to Know http://goo.gl/IPM6S )
Is that your fear? Reason and faith together can help. God gave us purpose when he made us to be his image-bearers in this world and told us to take care of his creation. God also placed desires and abilities in us for the good work God has for each of us to do. Check the story out in Genesis 1v26-28, Psalm 139v13-16 ( http://goo.gl/iUY2q ) and Ephesians 2v10
Let this truth give you the freedom to step into God’s purpose for you today.
God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.: Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Genesis 1:28
Here’s an ancient text to shape your day. One of God’s first gifts to us was a deeply significant job. God created us in his image and made us lords (or rulers) over everything God made on earth. This is a core part of your identity! You are someone with God-given authority to take care of the things around you: people, animals, plants, buildings, whatever it is you encounter. How could this shape the way you live today?
I have often faced the prospect of ending my own life. Life has been really tough at times for me, especially when facing depression, I’m sure a lot of other people can relate.
But you know what keeps me going? Knowing that I have a purpose on this earth. We are called ‘not [to] conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] minds’ (Romans 12v2 http://bit.ly/1ad4b0E )
Knowing that my purpose is to glorify Jesus while on this earth is far better than choosing to die, for we are more than conquerors through Christ.
How can you live out God’s purpose today?
#LiamTillett, 16, Pietermaritzburg
‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me so I am sending you.’ And with that Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’ John 20: 21-22
Do you have a sense of purpose for today or tomorrow? In the language John uses, to forgive also means to set free or release. Jesus sends us into this world for the same purpose his Father sent him – to help build God’s Kingdom by releasing the people we encounter from things that hold them captive – fear, insecurity, doubt, sickness, whatever it is…
Put yourself in that room with the disciples, ask Jesus to fill you with the Spirit and show you who you can help set free today.