God’s purpose in our lives is the process itself, not the results we might achieve.
By Larry Kreider
I have great boyhood memories of fishing with my Dad. Strangely enough, in those days I was convinced that the main purpose of our fishing expeditions was to catch a lot of fish. But as I grew up and had a family of my own, I discovered my perspective was flawed.
Catching big fish was never the main goal in my father’s mind. His goal was to teach me some basic life principles: perseverance (when the fish refused to bite), following his instructions (better known as obedience), and learning where the best fishing holes were (sounds like discernment to me).
As I learn to walk with my heavenly Father, I find amazing similarities. I am convinced He is much more concerned about what He is doing in me than in my reaching my lofty spiritual goals. Isaiah tells us that our natural thoughts are completely different than God’s thoughts. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Leading a healthy small group or serving as the pastor of a growing church is a noble goal. Nevertheless, do not confuse this goal with the Lord’s clearest goal and purpose for your life. He loves you, and He is more concerned about building His life in you than He is about your goal of having exciting small group meetings or a successful church.
Oswald Chambers once said, “We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.”
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and His power. If I can stay calm, faithful and keep a clear head while in the midst of turmoil, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish—His purpose is the process itself.
It is great for you to believe God for your small group to grow and multiply as new people come to Christ. Yet never forget the Lord’s most focused goal for your life: to make you more like Jesus.
Isaiah tells us: “… the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above” Isaiah 37:31). God’s goal for us is that our roots will reach deep down into Him, so we can bear spiritual fruit in abundance. The character of Christ is developed in us through the process of the trials and disappointments of life. We must trust Him and His Word rather than our present circumstances. Anyone can be excited when things go well. What about when our expectations are not met? What happens to you when your small group goes for a season without anyone coming to Christ, or doesn’t multiply as often as you had projected, or people seem to leave your small group for the wrong reasons? Continue to pray and to believe, but be sure to not miss the Lord’s higher way and higher thoughts for your life.
When crops do not receive the blessing of rain for a season, the drought forces their roots to go deep for moisture. A season of spiritual drought just might be the proper environment for our spiritual roots to go down deeper into Him. The Lord is calling us to complete dependency on Him as we persevere during the process of life. One of the most effective means of spiritual warfare is simply to not quit! He has called you to bear good fruit. And don’t forget, as you submit to His higher thoughts and ways, the last chapter has not yet been written on your fishing expedition.
About Larry Kreider
Larry has spent the past four decades training leaders to make disciples with the small group concept. Larry serves as the international director of DOVE International, a worldwide network of over 1,000 churches in 26 nations. Larry has written more than 40 books and travels extensively teaching and imparting practical discipleship to leaders globally. Read about Larry or catch up on Larry’s blog.