I will never forget being a 6th grade kid walking around the mega church I grew up in. I had just started playing guitar in the youth group and helping out in the kids ministry by shadowing a young boy with autism. We were standing in the hallway of this massive church building on a Sunday morning with some folks from my parents small group, and they were talking about my involvement in the church at such a young age.
Then one of the older gentlemen leans over and looks at me with his big scary old man eyes and says, “Well isn’t it just clear… You were MADE for ministry!”
“What?” I thought. “Made for ministry? What does that even mean?” Don’t get me wrong, I loved my youth group. In fact, my youth pastor Brent Austin played a MASSIVE role in my life as a middle school kid. But what I was doing wasn’t “ministry”, it was just doing what I loved as a 12-year-old kid.
And what I loved pretty much consisted of punk rock music, skateboarding, hanging out with friends, and helping people.
Now I’m 25, married, and have a 8 week old daughter and you know what.. Not much has changed. I still love punk rock (although I’ve graciously expanded my musical tastes), and I do hop on a skateboard every now and again (more for transportation purposes than going off ramps. Dang I sound old), and I still love my friends and helping people. The problem I faced then, and have struggled with ever since, is the thought of being pigeon-hole into what I’m “called to do.” You know… The idea of only being able to pursue that “one-thing” you were DESIGNED FOR (dun dun duuuunnnn). The problem is, who has just one thing? Or better yet, who even knows what that “one-thing” is?
I hear these really amazing, anointed speakers at conferences and church meetings talk about how they know their purpose is to ____________(“Preach the gospel to the ends of the earth” “Plant a billion churches” “Sing the songs of heaven for all generations to come to know His light and likeness, so that they will be transformed by the glorious richness of His presence for all the earth to be filled with the knowledge…..”) Fill in the blank.
And there I sit every time thinking I’m a terrible christian because all I can think about is how much I love playing music, or hiking with my wife, or camping, or gathering friends in our home. None of which sounds very “christian” or “holy”. So what do you do with that?
I remember sitting in a church service a few years ago where Carlos (yes, the editor of this very blog) was preaching, and he posed the question “What if our destiny isn’t something we do, but something we are? What if our destiny is simply being sons and daughters of our heavenly Daddy?”
In that moment I had conflicting thoughts of “There’s no way it’s that easy.. Surely my destiny has something to do with the Gospel or worship or church planting or something more spiritual than being a ‘son’…” But something in my heart leapt with a “YES! THIS IS IT! YOU WERE MADE TO BE A SON!”
What if this is true? What if our destiny is actually to be a son/daughter? I imagine if we, as the church, lived as sons and daughters and pursued the passions of our hearts, the fruit would far exceed that of a bunch of orphan hearted “servants” doing what they think God wants them to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been this person. I used to think the purpose of my life was to try to please an angry God who had to give up His perfect son in exchange for me, a sin and shame filled punk rock kid. And from that belief, every Christian thing I did was an act of trying to earn His love and acceptance. I was living like an orphan, looking for love and acceptance anywhere I could. I thought my “destiny” and “purpose” was to give up the very dreams in my heart in order to serve Him in ways that I thought would please Him… Not realizing He was the one who planted those dreams in my heart.
When Christians live this way, they look depressed, angry, bitter, and lonely. But when I look at the life of Jesus, the perfect son and servant, He seemed to be none of those things. It took me a while to finally realize that God was actually a lot more interested in the things I’m interested in, than I thought He was.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”. Proverbs 13:12
It’s crazy to think we have to suppress the desires of our hearts so that we can “serve God.” According to this scripture, when the longings of your heart (your dreams and passions) are fulfilled, they taste of eternity (See Genesis 2:9 and 3:22) . It reflects the nature of an eternal Father who is passionate about His children.
King David said it best in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The desires of YOUR heart. Is that right? Surely the psalmist meant to write “the desires of His heart?”
Nope. It is the pleasure of the Father to see the desires of His children’s hearts fulfilled.
“If it matters to you, it matters to Him.”
Bill Johnson in Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow (Must Read!)
So stop worrying about your “destiny” and “purpose” and all of those other big scary words. I’d like to propose that your destiny is to be a son or daughter of your heavenly Father. To love and be loved by Him, and to share that love with the world around you through the pursuit of your dreams and passions in partnership with your Father in heaven. I think that pursuing the dreams of your heart from this place will produce far greater fruit than being an unhappy servant trying to earn the love of God that is already available to you. So stop trying to figure out what you’re “called to do,” and start living from the dreams He planted in your heart long ago.
And if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, consider this quote from Allen Ginsberg, “You are what you think about all day.”
*Listen to the tunes of my heart: Journey of All by Troubel.