A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

When you think of godly leaders, King David is in rarified air. He is, after all, the famed slayer of Goliath, the one who was known as “the man after God’s own heart,” and the greatest king in Israel’s history. But, from a human perspective, the majority of his life seemed directionless and even wasted. And yet every step had incredible purpose. There is no King David without his journey.

As a young man, David had the oil from Samuel’s horn poured out over his head and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”[i] It was within a few years that David would defeat Goliath and be promised Saul’s daughter in marriage. Surely he must have thought that his ascension to the throne was near. But as things so often are in God’s economy, it would be many years before David would sit on the throne.[ii] David would go from the rising star of Israel, whom the people sung about in the streets, to fleeing, to exile, wandering with his motley band across the hostile terrain of Palestine. And while so many years had passed, he twice refused to take the life of the man who not only sought his life, but blocked his anointing.[iii]    

What must have sustained David for these long years was not only the presence of God, but also God’s purpose for him. Even as he ran for his life, he speaks of his trust and his purpose, “But the king [referring to himself, who wasn’t yet king] shall rejoice in God.” So it is with the power of a purposeful spiritual life for us. When we know and understand the identity and purposes God has placed on our lives, it sustains us through tremendous difficulty, which is also God’s purpose.

How do we understand our purpose and then align our spiritual life to that purpose? Last week we considered five critical questions that Rick Warren has offered that has helped us consider the center, the character, the contribution, the communication, and the community of our lives. Once we drop these important anchors, a second series of questions that helps us consider our daily vocation is helpful to ask. In a sense this series of question teases out that third critical question about our contribution.

This series of three questions comes by way of Tim Keller. This helps us lean into what the vocational purpose God has called us into, whether that is to be a nurse, a stay at home parent, a teacher, or an auto mechanic. You might think this is just a set of questions for young people (it is!). But it is a set of questions for all of us. In God’s economy, there is no wasted moment in our lives. So, whether you are in Junior High or in your first full-time position or newly retired, we all ought to be examining God’s vocational call on us.

Here are Keller’s three questions:

1)      What are your abilities? What are you good at? What did you go to school for? In what other areas have you excelled? How do you tend to add value to others? What are you asked to do by others?

2)      What are your affections? What do you enjoy doing? What do you spend your free time on? What do you like to talk about?

3)      What are your opportunities? You might have great ability for juggling and a great passion for it, but it’s unlikely God has called you to make a living juggling. There just aren’t that many juggling jobs. Likewise with fantasy football or quilting or fishing. Meanwhile, there are great opportunities for Medical Service Managers and Computer Systems Administrators and Computer Analysts and Industrial Engineers and stay at home parents.

Where is the intersection of your abilities, your affections, and your opportunities? Are you in that space? Is it possible to get there at your age and stage? Does it make sense financially? Does that vocation fit with the five C’s that Warren helped us discover last week?

We’re getting close to the finish line. Our life mission graph paper is filling with data points. The next step is developing a mission and vision statement that connects all those points and makes sense of your unique spiritual fingerprint.

Next week I’ll share my own statement with you and hopefully inspire you to complete your own.


[i] 1 Samuel 16:13

[ii] We don’t know the exact number of years. This chronology has a 33 year gap between David’s anointing and his reign: livingstonesclass.org/Archive/DavidChronologyGross.pdf. This article suggests there is a 15 year gap: http://www.biblestudy.org/question/why-did-king-david-wait-to-rule-israel.html. Given the extensive history that happens between David’s anointing and the beginning of his reign (1 Samuel 16-2 Samuel 2 as well as a number of Psalms), at least 15-20 years seems reasonable.

[iii] 1 Samuel 24, 26.

For more on the Purposeful Spiritual Life Series, see:

Part 1: A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 1

Part 2: A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 2

Part 3: A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

Part 4: A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

Part 5: A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 5