But how can we become better stewards of what God’s given each of us?
I believe that’s best answered by knowing what on earth you’re here for. The Greek philosopher Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living.” You need to know yourself, to steward yourself well.
God has a plan of ministry for your life. It will have similarities to others but it’s still unique, because you are unique. How do I know that? It’s in the Bible; read Ephesians 2:10; 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 12:7, 27 together for starters.
Let’s take our cue in answering the what on earth you’re here for question from Jesus. In His humanity, laying aside his majesty, He *knew* what on earth He was here for; the part he alone was meant to play.
At a young age, his parents lost track of Him, only to find Him at the Temple. He said to them, “I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:41-52). Eight times in the gospel Jesus says variations of “this is why I have come”. Knowing why He had come helped Him resist temptation, to not be distracted by crowds, or thrown off course by critics. It helped Him to make wise choices to steward His life perfectly for God’s glory.
So how can you know what on earth you’re here for? Think of it as a triangle.
At the top is Prophecy – upward revelation. Jesus had the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38) and Simeon (2:25-35) prophesy over Him (in addition to all the OT prophecies about him). I’m convinced Jesus’ mother, Mary, would have told Jesus about them.
So, what has God spoken over your life? (I’m a firm believer that Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 14:1, to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy, has not been rescinded and should be commonplace in the Church, and would hope that if you’re part of our church or wider movement of churches, Newfrontiers, you would be receiving and even giving them).
Now evaluate those prophecies: Are they consistent with Scripture? Have they been weighed by leaders? Do they resonate with you? Have they been confirmed (e.g. by prophetic words from other trusted believers)?
And, are you mixing them with faith?
Many Christians think prophecy is automatic but I believe God gives prophetic words to encourage us to pull them from the future into the present. I know there’s a mystery here, and God is sovereign but I believe prophetic words work best when they’re mixed with faith.
The second corner is Passion – your God-given inner compulsion. Jesus had [has] a mission he was willing to die for. He had a holy discontent, religious people made Him righteously angry. “Woe to you!” He said to them. He made a whip and turned over tables in the Temple. What aspect of this broken world that, when you see it, touch it, or get near it, you can’t stand? Try to be specific.
People and Places
The final corner is People & Places – your external pull. Jesus is called the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). He was drawn to tax collectors and prostitutes, the outcasts of society. He also set his face for Jerusalem. What people and places are you drawn to that relate to your call?
Think also of the vision of the Macedonian man Paul received (Acts 16:6-10). What people demographic or geographical need do you find troubling that it calls you off your chair and into action?
Putting it all together
Once you’ve distilled these down, and I appreciate this is something of a life-long journey, turn your triangle into a Venn diagram of three overlapping circles – think about where, when and how prophecy, passion, people & places, might all overlap in your immediate context, and in the future.
Do this alongside other helpful tests, like APEST.org, spiritual gifts surveys (you’re welcome to use ours here), Birkman, Strengthsfinder 2.0, MBTI, etc., and think again about who God has made you to be, how you work best, and where, what and to whom God might want you to give most of your time and talents. What (small) steps could you then take to test this out an operate more in your particular area of gifting and call?