He Said-She Said: What Is My Destiny?
- Tuesday, April 01, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: He Said-She Said is written by two longtime friends and fellow singles. Each column features a reader's question with responses from a male and female point of view. If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: Is something wrong if, at 30 years old, you don't know what you want to be when you’re already “grown up”?
HE SAID: What questions do you ask of someone when you first meet?
My first question is usually “What is your name?” The second (sometimes third) question is “What do you do?” It is also common to ask younger people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer given is usually a profession, not a character trait. We have grown to associate who we are with what we do. Our identity is often tied to our occupations rather than ourselves as individuals, especially for guys.
I was raised in a home where my father worked for the same company essentially doing the same job for over 35 years. He became that job. He instilled in me the importance of going to college, working in my field of study for a good, stable company (with good benefits), and supporting my family. I was following this plan until I was let go at my first job and consequently lost my “identity” as a person.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1
I quickly learned that the loyalty toward a company and of a company that my dad enjoyed had changed over the years, and the need to be adaptable with your occupation (or what you “want to be”) had become the norm rather than long-term stability. Through my experience, along with accepting Jesus into my life, I have come to recognize that there are different seasons in life. I have had to learn that each season (of change) does not affect who I am as a person or my character; it only changes the situation I am in.
That is a long prelude to say, whatever “season” you are in, don’t let it dictate who you are as a person.
There are many examples of men in the Bible who changed their line of work after they were “grown up.”
- Moses – Son of Pharaoh to Leader of the Israelites (Exodus)
- David – Warrior to King of Judah (2 Samuel)
- Jesus – Carpenter to Savior (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
- Peter – Fisherman to Disciple (Mark 3)
- Paul – Persecutor to Apostle (Romans)
The common thread that runs through each of these men is their vision that they had received from God. Their work was not to glorify themselves or for some worldly gain (and not used as an identity for who they were), but rather their work was for an eternal purpose. At times it is difficult to maintain that sort of vision in today’s world. There are so many distractions, temptations, and forces telling you what you should be, what you should have, and what you should do. It’s easy to become disillusioned with your own life and your job.
God made our bodies with many parts and he has put each part just where he wants it.
— 1 Corinthians 12:18
Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
— 1 Corinthians 12:27
Each part of your body performs a function, but at different times and in different situations that part can perform a function for a different purpose. For instance, your hand can hold, throw, catch, and write. They are all done by the same part and all are necessary, but all are utilized in a variety of ways.
The Lord has given each one of us a gift (or gifts). We were created for a purpose (or purposes) throughout our life. Our occupation does not dictate who we are; it is only the position or place that allows us to use our gift for His purpose. To not know what we should be is not being aware of what the Lord has created us for.
Oswald Chambers says:
“If we do not apply our beliefs about God to the issues of everyday life, the vision God has given us will never be fulfilled. The only way to be obedient to ’the heavenly vision’ is to give our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory. This can be accomplished only when we make a determination to continually remember God’s vision.”
In whatever position or occupation we are in (glamorous or not), we should be working as if we are doing it unto the Lord. Sure, it’s difficult to think that the Lord really cares if you’re answering phones, pushing papers, packing boxes or wiping counters, but He does.
Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
— Colossians 3:23
Through the process of what we do, He will direct us in the way that we should go. Sometimes during the process, we discover something we should not be (or don’t enjoy) doing. Sometimes we discover things that we didn’t know we were capable of doing. Sometimes we find something we absolutely love doing and were created for.
Oswald Chambers continues to say:
“If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you allow God to plant you, you will ‘bear much fruit’.”
Spend time with the Lord; ask Him to show you His ‘heavenly vision’ for your life; don’t write something off before trying it; do all as you are doing it unto the Lord himself.
Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life
SHE SAID: First of all, take heart for you are not alone. And secondly, keep this in mind: God is sovereign. Amen?
Now, if it’s any consolation to you, I’m well past 30 and am still wondering about my destiny and what I want to be when I “grow up.” And I would venture to guess that there are readers of all ages (20, 30, 40, 50 and up) who feel exactly the same way, too.
Sometimes, we can get stuck in the numbers (Really, what is age in God’s eyes and in his plans for us?) in response to worldly standards and expectations vs. God’s. And then sometimes, we can get caught in the web of other believers’ expectations which may or may not be in line with what God wants for us (this can be even trickier and harder to tell the difference).
With the recent onslaught of books designed to steer you toward discovering your purpose and your destiny (both inside and outside of the Christian publishing industry), I think a lot of us can quickly become concerned if our lives aren’t all clearly mapped out for us after filling out a short questionnaire or completing a multi-week, self-discovery program.
These resources are practical, helpful aids, but I think there is a tendency for readers (myself included) to look at them as THE definitive source for how our lives should look. "If I read this book, then I'll instantly know what I'm supposed to do with my life!" Oh, if it were only that easy.
Discovering God's plans for our lives is an ongoing process. So I suggest first consulting with the No. 1 best-selling, Christian living guidebook of all time: the Bible. In His Word, God tells us that he has specifically chosen us (1 Peter 2:9), and has called us to a different way of living (Colossians 3:12-14). We are given the broad brush strokes as to how we should interact with our fellow man and our Maker (Matthew 22:37-39). But when it comes to the finer lines, there can be a bit of fuzziness. God doesn’t fully map out our destinies in the pages of his Word. No, he leaves in the mystery, so that we will trust him and in his understanding for our lives.
Granted, sometimes—even though we are each unique and fearfully and wonderfully made—our lives might look similar to those of others. We may go to college, choose a major that seems right, start our careers, lead Bible studies, search for mates or become homeowners … just like other people in our demographic.
So that is what can feel normal or right to us. It’s what we can see. It’s what we know. And it’s what is happening in others’ lives.
But what happens when our lives don’t mirror our friends’? What happens when God doesn’t give us (in our opinions) a neat and tidy life plan, and we stand out like odd balls? What happens when he calls us to a different destiny that we don’t understand? (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In 1 and 2 Samuel, David’s destiny didn’t really look like anyone else’s. Who knew that this unlikely shepherd boy would one day become Israel’s greatest earthly king? God did.
To the people of the time, David probably looked like he’d continue on in the family line of work and be a shepherd like the rest of his brothers But then this boy with a slingshot killed a scary giant, utilized his harp skills and found favor with a tormented king (Saul), was chased around by said tormented king and then eventually ended up becoming a king himself. Again, who knew?
Like us, the people of David’s day couldn’t see what God sees and how he is preparing each of us for our individual callings.
A sermon I listened to recently expands on this nicely. In Dr. Paul E. Sheppard’s (“Enduring Truth”) message titled “Lessons from the Pasture – Part 1”, he talks about the life of David and the difference between “a good idea” (generally, what you want and makes sense from your perspective) and “a God idea” (what God wants for your life, whether or not it makes sense to you).
What stands out most to me, are his final thoughts:
“Your calling may or may not be related to your vocation. … Whether your calling is lined up with your vocation or whether it is separate … make sure you get your calling fulfilled. Your vocation is what you are paid to do. Your calling is what you are made to do.”
So, I guess the bigger question in response to your question is this: What is God calling you to do?
Is he stirring up some questioning regarding your current state so that you will move on to a different phase in your life? Or does he have you exactly where he wants you right now, but is asking you to wait while he continues preparing you for the next season?
I think the key is to wait on God’s timing while you’re wondering. It’s okay to question what’s going on with your life. But the danger lies in losing focus, comparing yourself with others and in rejecting where God has placed you today in your own timeline.
Wait on the Lord for the answer to your question of destiny. He will reveal the direction you need to take along the way. And in him you will find your rest, your purpose and your identity for today as a “grown up,” for the rest of your 30s and going forward throughout the rest of your life (Psalm 25:4-5).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com’s Senior Entertainment Editor. While she’s still holding out for Mr. Right, Laura has recently downsized her “perfect” wedding day ideal from high-budget, blow-out extravaganza to inexpensive, beachfront ceremony or informal, backyard barbecue.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We’re just singles like you who understand what it’s like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life’s questions, and it’s where we’ll go for guidance when responding to your questions.
GOT A QUESTION? If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on April 1, 2008.
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