In my book, Wired to Work, I address what I call the two most important questions in life: how am I wired uniquely, and why am I here? Throughout my years of teaching and studying human behavior, I have come to realize that, until we get the answers to these two critical questions, we will never be hitting on all cylinders.
The first question has to do with discovering how God made you and the second has you understanding your purpose in life—what is God calling you to do?
Allow me to begin by setting a biblical foundation for this. In our ministry we have developed what I call our Three Unalterable Facts:
Fact No. 1: God knows you and has created you for a special purpose. The Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (NIV). Of course we know that this is God speaking to Jeremiah. We need to understand that God wants to say this to everyone who calls upon Him. (Also see Is. 44:2, Ps. 139:13-17, Eph. 1:11, Eph. 2:10, Prov. 23:18, Jer. 29:11).
Fact No. 2: God has given you special gifts toward the satisfaction of His purpose. Romans 12:4-6 says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." The Bible makes it clear that we are not all the same. We have different gifts—or temperaments—designed to assist us with our assigned task. Look at what it says in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."
Fact No. 3: God wants you to discover His purpose. Ephesians 1:18 states, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” God has called you for a special purpose. He has a plan for your life.
How Am I Wired?
Understanding how God has made us unique is one of the most important things we can do. Most of us never come upon this information, and often the result is not only spiritual dryness but vocational confusion.
The Bible holds the secrets to discovering how God made us. In Romans we find what are referred to as the seven natural or personal gifts. These are sometimes called our motivational or charasmata gifts. These specific gifts have to do with our temperament or natural bent. They are our spiritual DNA, if you will.
Each of us have been blessed with our own gifts from the Spirit. As you grow in the Lord, you will come to discover your individual gifts that God has given to you. Once you discover your gifts, it’s time to put those gifts to use! If you have a ministry or mercy gift, volunteer for a mission trip or visit a hospital. If you are more inclined toward administration or teaching, take on a project or start a Bible study or small group.
Why Am I Here?
As a student, I struggled my way through school. Most of the teaching I received seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Feeling completely discouraged, I dropped out.
Nothing seemed to register until I entered the business world and caught a vision and passion for my work. With a new and heightened sense of motivation, I returned to school and enrolled in courses that were centered around my newfound passion. The result was straight A's. This is just one example of the power of a strong vision.
Let’s look at another example. When Cindy and I were newlyweds, we set out to look for a new van that could tow our boat. It did not take long to find the perfect one. It was a bright orange Chevy van with mag wheels and chrome side pipes. We both wanted to buy it, but soon discovered that we were $30 a month short of making the payments. Needless to say, Cindy and I went home disappointed that day.
At the same time, I was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. I had made numerous attempts to quit with no success. Cigarettes at that time cost about 25 cents a pack. At that price, four packs a day amounted to $30 a month, the exact amount we would need to buy that van.
I said, “Cindy, if I quit smoking we could afford that van.” Of course she was thrilled with that idea and quickly agreed. But before I was able to get one foot out the door, Cindy stopped me and suggested, “I think it would be best if you quit smoking first.” I was so close! Cindy knew that there needed to be evidence of change.
That night I put down a four-pack-a-day habit and never picked up another cigarette again. I wanted that van so badly—the vision was so strong—that I was able to chip away that nasty habit. This same power to overcome is available in every area of our life, but only when coupled with true vision.
To this day, I find this principle powerfully at work. In my case it began with a van. Today it is an ongoing discovery of God’s great purpose for my life, an unfolding of His vision. That is the ultimate motivation.
Discovering His Plan
There are four factors that need to line up before you can be sure you are sensing God’s call or purpose in your life. They are as follows:
Read It in the Word
There are some people who believe that they can close their eyes, allow their Bible to flop open, point to a place on the page and God will show them a verse that will guide them. I am not saying that God can’t do that—He can do anything He likes. However, my experience suggests that this action borders more on superstition then on any common sense application of God’s Word. When I suggest reading it in the Word, I am referring to seeing a pattern of God revealing something to you over significant time spent reading your Bible. Is there a message that is jumping off the pages?
Hear It by His Spirit
This is always the most difficult thing for me. I know that God speaks to us; my problem is that my mind is so active that it is hard for me to hear that still small voice. Someone once reminded me that wherever we go there are thousands of radio waves in the air. Just because we can’t see them does not minimize their existence. All we need is the right receiver to get tuned in. The same is true with hearing God. We must get “tuned in” to His voice.
Affirm It With Wise, Godly Counsel
Seek out your most mature Christian friends and loved ones. Find out if they agree with the direction that you are thinking of heading. My only caution here is to be discriminating and wise in choosing your counsel. Remember that it takes a certain level of maturity in your relationship with God in order to discern whether something may be right for another person.
See It in Your Circumstances
Often life’s circumstances provide a way for God to send us a signal of what He wants us to do. Is there something going on in your life which might indicate a new course or direction? Is there something that God is trying to get through to you?
I strongly suggest that you need all four of these areas to line up before pressing forward. I could tell you some tragic stories about people who impulsively reacted to two or three of these only to discover they were headed down the wrong path.
Vision’s Ultimate Promise
Michelangelo, the great painter and sculptor, was once asked how he was able to create such masterful statues. His answer was something like, “I am not sure how it works exactly, but I am able to see the vision of the beautiful statue in the marble even before it is extracted from the rock quarry. You see, once I catch the vision, the rest is very simple—I just chip away what does not belong.”
Once we catch God’s wonderful vision for us, we are never the same. I have witnessed it in my own life and in the lives of countless others. Don’t give up. Pursue God and His plan for your life. Use your gifts first and foremost to glorify Him and you will soon discover an unmatched sense of personal fulfillment!
“... being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6, NIV)
Vince D’Acchioli is the founder and president of On Target Ministries, a Christian outreach to men, pastors and couples. In the past decade, Vince’s seminars, workshops and church services have touched the lives of thousands of people across the United States and Canada.