How to Live for the Greatest Cause
- 2009 13 Jan
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Brian Houston's new book, For This I Was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause, (Thomas Nelson, 2008).
Living your life just for yourself will ultimately leave you unfulfilled. But if you choose to live for something bigger than yourself – a cause – you'll find meaning and satisfaction.
The greatest cause of all is the cause of Christ. That's the cause God created you for, and when you devote your life to it, everything you do takes on eternal significance.
Here's how you can live for the greatest cause of all:
Discover your purpose. Your appearance on this planet at this time in history isn’t just by chance. God planned for you to be here, and He hopes you’ll fulfill a specific purpose during your lifetime. Reject any notion that your life is merely a random happening, and set out to understand more about God’s kingdom and the unique part you’re meant to play in it. Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you. Instead of looking at your life in terms of what you think you lack, consider the amazing reality that you’ve been born for the greatest cause of all, and trust God to empower you to do whatever He is calling you to do.
Plant yourself in a church that will nourish you. Find a healthy church in your area and get fully involved in it. Don’t just attend casually; develop close friendships with the people there, participate in the activities, and serve wholeheartedly. As you do, God will release more and more of your potential as a person. You’ll grow in vital ways that will help you fulfill your purpose. The church is the vehicle through which God’s kingdom will take hold in your life and move you forward into what God wants you to do.
Connect your vision to God’s cause. Make sure the vision that guides your life supports the cause of Christ. Surrender your own agenda to God and pursue His plans for your life. Base all your decisions on what’s most important to Christ rather than just on what seems like a good idea to you. As exciting as your own vision might be, it will lack power unless you connect it to God’s cause. Once your own vision aligns with the cause, however, you’ll be able to accomplish much more than you could ever imagine.
Unite with others around the cause. Work with other people who are single-minded in their vision to serve Christ and His church. Confront and overcome division, wrong motives, disloyalty, and disunity. Do all you can to promote unity so God’s purposes can stand and His kingdom can advance on earth.
Approach life from an eternal perspective. Keep in mind that your life can impact the future in powerful ways. If you’re living faithfully, everything about you can provoke people to think about eternity. And if you’re serving as God leads you, all of your efforts have eternal significance. Consider what kind of legacy you want to leave on earth. Every day, invest your time and energy into what matters most and don’t let lesser pursuits distract you from what’s most important.
Live as someone who has been called, not just saved. God has saved you not just to spend an eternity with Him in heaven, but also to make a positive difference on earth. Every situation and every person you encounter presents a fresh opportunity to live out your God-given calling. Let your gratitude for the salvation God has given you motivate you to reach out to others who need salvation. Be as active as you can in serving as God calls you to serve.
Use what God has given you. Discover, develop, and fully use your natural talents and spiritual gifts. God has given them to you to help you fulfill specific purposes in His kingdom. No matter what you’re especially good at doing – comforting hurting people, working with numbers, creating art, etc. – decide to do it for God’s glory as often as you can. Don’t underestimate the power of your abilities. Seize each opportunity God presents to use them and look forward to what God will do as a result. If you’re not serving much already, start out being faithful in small acts of service, and expect God to eventually open doors to larger opportunities to serve.
Work hard. Hard work can serve as the launching pad for God’s purpose for your life to take off to great heights. Instead of taking the easy road, commit to working hard every day so that others will notice your dedication to serving God. Whatever kind of work you do, do it wholeheartedly, knowing that it has eternal significance since God has called you to do it. Ask God to help you get rid of stress, striving, emptiness, and anxiety related to your work and approach it with joy instead. Pray for God to use your work as a conduit through which to pour His love into people’s lives. Look beyond your work tasks themselves to the results they can accomplish – making the world a better place. Enjoy the blessings that come about because of your hard work.
Stay focused on your purpose. Focusing on God’s purpose for your life will propel you into effective action every day and prevent wasting precious time and energy on distractions. Keep in mind that your life isn’t meant to be a to-do list of competing priorities; it’s meant to a unified life that’s centered on God, with everything you do flowing naturally from your relationship with Him. Don’t let your perceived shortcomings hold you back from the future God has for you. Trust God to help you do absolutely anything He calls you to do. No matter how busy you are, if you focus on God’s purpose for your life, He will replenish your energy and give you peace. No matter what struggles you’ve gone through in the past, pursuing God’s purpose will bring you the healing you need to overcome your wounds and limitations.
Use your time well. It will take time to build a life powerfully lived for the cause of Christ, so don’t give up when you get frustrated about something in your life not progressing as well as you’d like. Every day, freshly devote yourself to the cause. Recognize that each new day is a gift from God that is valuable in shaping your destiny and contributions to the world. Expect different seasons of time to bring different experiences into your life. Rejoice during the good times, and lean into God during the hard times, learning how to trust Him more. Notice the extraordinary things God is doing in the ordinary moments of your life and seek to join Him in His work. Remain committed to fulfilling God’s purpose in your life at all times.
Use your money well. If you use your money just for yourself, it will come to master you by stealing your affections away from everything else. But if you use it to help you pursue God’s plans for your life, it will serve you as a valuable tool to accomplish what matters most. Be generous when you give and wise when you invest, so you won’t squander any of the potential you have to achieve great results for God’s kingdom with your money. Remember that God is the one who has given you the ability to earn money; thank Him by managing it as well as you possibly can.
Get rid of selfishness. Live beyond your personal desires by surrendering your will daily to God. Trust in God’s plans for your life rather than trying to force your own agenda. Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you, and derive confidence from that so you won’t be preoccupied with your own desires and will be able to accomplish much more than you could ever imagine yourself.
Stand on your convictions. Hold steadfastly to your beliefs, refusing to give in to the world’s pressures to compromise. Rather making yourself vulnerable to having others change you, pray for God to give you the strength to lead others to change. Become an agent of positive change in the world, shining Christ’s light into dark places. Get to know the Bible well, letting its truths soak into your soul so they’ll be there when you need them for encouragement. Pray often for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you’ll be thinking according to truth instead of the world’s confused patterns.
Remain committed. Whatever challenges you face – from health issues to financial problems – if you consistently make your relationship with God your top priority, He will give you the strength you need to get through it all well. Devote yourself to God daily. Seek His healing for internal issues that can interfere with your ability to grow, confront evil, confess your sins, be reconciled to other people, and make whatever sacrifices you need to keep serving God wholeheartedly.
Adapted from For This I Was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause, copyright 2008 by Brian Houston. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, are the senior pastors of Australia’s largest church, Hillsong Church in Sydney, which has a growing congregation of more than twenty-one thousand people. They also oversee the extended ministries that include Hillsong Music Australia, Hillsong Conference, and the Hillsong International Leadership College. Hillsong Television is also broadcast in more than 180 nations.