Last week, I shared some thoughts on life purpose based on something my dad said to me when I was younger: “Do as much as you can until you’re 40, then do one thing well the rest of your life.” He often said things like this that were wise thoughts on finding and following your purpose in life, and one of those things came about when I was in my early 20’s. In the fantasy of my mind, I thought that if I wrote a book, I would become “famous” or “important” in my field, so I had decided that it was something I needed to do. When I shared this with my dad, he said, “Jeff, before you can say something that people will listen to, you first have to have something to say.” Like a lot of things he said, there was deep wisdom here that needed to be unpacked, and I understood over time that it is not until you have learned something valuable and meaningful through your own life, learning, and experience, can you truly pass it on to someone else. I eventually did write a book (that’s what this post is about), but it came after a lot of life and experience. I now appreciate the lesson my dad taught me, that I ought to write not simply because I want to say something, but because I have learned something that is important to say.
Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Ability, and Opportunity is a book I originally wrote almost ten years before it was published (I even went so far at that time as to apply for a copyright and submit the manuscript to a publisher). However, much like what happened with the rebuilding of the temple described in Ezra 4 and 5, God – in His divine sovereignty – saw fit to put a stop to the process until the time was right. It seems He still had more to teach me on the matter.
Now, I know that I will continue to learn and grow for the rest of my life, and I also know that “the more I know, the more I know I don’t know,” which means if I waited until I have full and perfect knowledge, this book would never have happened. And so eventually I reached a point in time when God prompted me to pick up where I left off and re-engage, and – with some revising and additions to the original – to publish.
In essence, this book addresses the question of “How do you know God’s purpose? How do you know what He wants you do?” When I look back over many of my experiences, it is clear that God was working out His purpose in my life. So then, as I have analyzed the circumstances and events that have taken place, I have focused in on three common factors that keep appearing in these situations that have helped me to know His purpose. These three factors are:
1) Passion – the things that I strongly desire, that I want to pursue,
2) Ability – the things that I have the talent to do, and
3) Opportunity – circumstances that occur in my life.
It is these three lines in our lives – passion, ability, and opportunity – that, when they intersect, form the point where we find the greatest fulfillment and contentment, with a certainty that we are where we should be. Picture a geometric graph, with three separate lines, one representing our passion to do or be something, one representing our talents and abilities, and one representing the opportunities that appear before us. At some place on this graph these three lines intersect at one specific point. This is the place where we find that we are doing something that brings us joy and that matches our talents well.
These concepts first came together in my mind while facilitating a student retreat quite a few years ago, and over the time since, I have seen them applied in my life many times and in many ways. God has placed opportunities in front of me that matched my passion and abilities in ways that have allowed me to be His instrument while finding fulfillment in my work. My prayer for you would be that you would identify these three factors in your life and find your purpose.
To order a copy of my book, Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Ability, and Opportunity, on Amazon, click here.