Guidelines for Finding Your Purpose – Part 2

Greenland_scenery.jpg

Yesterday we started our discussion about finding our purpose as men.  You can read the first part here.

God’s intent has been lost due to our misunderstanding

In Genesis chapter three  the human race made a decision to turn its back on God and not follow in his commands.  As a result we ended up losing our connection with God.  This also meant we lost our understanding and knowledge of God’s intent and purpose for us and the world.  As we have seen through this whole series everything on earth was put here for a purpose yet that doesn’t necessarily mean we always are aware of what that purpose is. In essence what we have done is purchased a very expensive and complicated piece of equipment and tossed away the instruction manual.  We might get the equipment to work but will never be able to have it work to its full potential because we have decided to ignore the very instructions that would allow it to fulfill its complete purpose.  There are likely special features and functions it has to offer but that we will never utilize because the instruction manual has been discarded as unnecessary.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.”  Proverbs 4:1

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12

When we discard God’s instructions for our lives we shouldn’t be surprised when our lives break down and need to be fixed.  We might function but we will always be operating at a certain level of dysfunction unless we really take the time to understand our own purpose. Please don’t mistake my words for a requirement of perfection.  That is not the point.  God says that his grace is sufficient for us.  We all fall short at times in our journey with God so we must exercise patience with ourselves as with others.  I am simply saying we must get back in line with God and ensure we are doing our very best to follow his instructions for our lives.

When we don’t know our purpose (or disregard it), abuse is inevitable

There was a time in my career when I traveled frequently for work – as much as 90% of my time.  It was only a brief period of time but I spent more time in rental cars, airplanes and Hampton Inns than I ever cared to (although the job was pretty great.)  I quickly learned how easy it was to abuse the rental car I had.  This was especially true once I started getting multiple upgrades and would find myself driving a Ford Mustang or Cadillac around. Why are rental cars abused so much?  Because the people driving them don’t care how long the car lasts!  If you own a vehicle you generally want to take good care of it so it will last a long time so you can avoid having to pay for a new one every year.  It’s purpose is to provide you and your family transportation for years to come (which is why it has a warranty on it.)  Yet when most people rent a car they have no problem abusing the car over a three day period because they won’t ever be in that car again and don’t really care how hard they drive it.  It’s purpose is abused because the people driving it just don’t care.

There is another problem with this concept: the consequences that come from not understanding our purpose.  For instance, if you drink something poisonous you are going to die.  You don’t need God to inflict any additional “punishment” on you; you’re dead!  In other words, when we abuse our purpose and our lives we shouldn’t be mad at our creator when we suffer consequences.  God wants us to avoid those consequences by living a life of purpose – his purpose.  Often times we are victims of our own consequences and yet turn around and yell at God for the mess our lives have become. If you don’t want to have a kid, don’t have sex.  Don’t get mad at God if you have sex and end up having a child you don’t expect (or a disease.)  If you don’t want to go to jail or prison then don’t engage in activities that may result in your incarceration – and don’t hang out with those who do.  When we face consequences in our lives more often than not we need to be looking in the mirror and not pointing fingers at God or other people for our “bad luck.”  When purpose is misunderstood, abuse is inevitable.

“Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.” Proverbs 13:13

We must discover our purpose by asking the manufacturer

If you want to discover the purpose of a thing, you shouldn’t be asking the thing itself.  This is because it didn’t design, plan or build itself.  Only the manufacturer knows the how and the why of the product he or she created.  Other people might “think” they know or feel they have an educated guess as to the purpose of its creation but they can never truly know for sure. Too many of us spend our younger years (and some even our older years) “experimenting” in an attempt to “find ourselves.”  We experiment sexually, with drugs and even with school/college.  All these experiments than create problems for us as we grow into adulthood and are being asked to be productive members of society. The problem with experiments is every so often one of them is going to blow up in your face.  It not only will cause you damage but also others who you care about.  Many times these experiments get us so far off track many people never get back to finding their purpose in life.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.   What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-25

It is not about judging or being judgmental of course.  My point is only that we often “experiment” trying to find ourselves on our own rather than going directly to the manufacturer to get answers.  For some reason we are afraid God is going to tell us something we don’t want to hear when often times the exact opposite happens. God has designed you for a purpose and the things you love to do, whether it is creative, professionally or otherwise are built into your DNA for a purpose.  God’s purpose.  He want to use those gifts, skills and desires you have but they are supposed to be used to fulfill your purpose not necessarily your wallet (although that can happen too!) If we men truly hunger to know our purpose or reason for living we must look to God and our user manual – the Bible.  We shouldn’t be looking to other men to tell us our purpose.

Guidelines for Finding Your Purpose

jesse-ventura-predator

We are continuing our series on the Purpose and Power of Men. While much of what we have been discussing and will discuss in the future is spiritual in nature there are plenty of sound pieces of advice for men even if you are not inclined towards Christianity.

If you want to go back and get caught up, you can read any of the following posts here, here, here and here.  It will better help you understand where we are heading.

As always I welcome you comments up above and hope that something I write inspires you to be a better man.

There are seven basic guidelines for finding your purpose which we will discuss periodically over the next several weeks.  I can’t cover them all in one blog post otherwise it would be too long.  I will list them below but then we will tackle them a few at a time.  This will help all of us to not feel overwhelmed with the process and avoid feeling like it is impossible to achieve.  So here they are:

  1.  God is a God of purpose
  2.  Everything He created has a purpose
  3. God’s intent has been lost due to our misunderstanding
  4. When we don’t know our purpose, abuse is inevitable
  5. We must discover our purpose by asking the manufacturer
  6. Our purpose can only be found in God
  7. Our original purpose is key to finding fulfillment

Okay so let’s roll….

God is a God of Purpose

“The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.'” Isa. 14.24 NIV

“God’s plan for the world stands up, all his designs are made to last.” Psalm 33:11 MSG

If you gain nothing else from reading the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, I hope you understand how purposeful God is about everything he does.  He never wastes a moment, takes a play off (unless its the Sabbath) or lets down his guard.  I mean after all there is a reason why he is God.  His plans are intentional, meaningful and guaranteed to succeed.  The only thing that gets in the way is us.

“When a man takes an oath, he is calling upon someone greater than himself to force him to do what he has promised or to punish him if he later refuses to do it; the oath ends all argument about it.  God also bound himself with an oath, so that those he promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether he might change his plans.” Hebrews 6:16-17 (TLB)

I sometimes like to think about God’s purpose in terms of God as a “show runner” or Executive Producer.  Like many people I love Breaking Bad and have been amazed by Vince Gilligan’s pontiac_aztek_breaking_badability to produce such an amazing show from start to finish.  Vince knew from the beginning of the show where he wanted to take his main character, Walter White and for the most part how Walter would get there.  This is similar to how God operates.

If you think about Genesis as the beginning of God’s purpose for us as humans you are looking at it incorrectly.  Rather, Genesis was really the start of God’s production.  He had already story boarded the whole thing prior to that, cast the characters and wrote the script.  Genesis simply is Act I, Scene I of the pilot episode.  It is the beginning of something that has a sure ending or outcome.

God never guesses about what he has planned for us – either as a humanity or as individuals.  God decided a long time ago what his purpose would be.  In Genesis he dug the foundation, laid the ground work and shared with the world the back story for the rest of the journey.

When God created men and women he had already determined what they would be and what they would do.  He wasn’t parked in the dessert in an RV experimenting with different combinations and hoping something useful came out.  He knew what he was doing and he knew what purpose he wanted us to serve.

2.   Everything He Created Has a Purpose

“God created everything with a purpose in mind, and He also created it with the ability to fulfill its purpose.  Everything God has made is the way it is because of why it was created.  The why dictates its makeup.  The purpose of a thing determines its nature, its design and its features.” – Dr. Myles Monroe

When a manufacturer creates a product they don’t do so hoping it will turn into something useful.  The product has already been designed with a certain outcome in mind.  If you were crack open your iPad it is likely you won’t understand most of the technology, parts etc that you will see inside of the device.  Yet I promise you everything in there exists for a reason.  Apple didn’t put anything in there that lacks a purpose for the iPad’s design.  In other words when a product is manufactured there are no superfluous parts, everything is needed to achieve its purpose.

The same goes for our bodies.  Every part of our body (whether we like it our not) is required for us to function properly.  You might be surprised to find out how difficult it would be to walk if suddenly all your toes were missing.  This is especially true of our big toe.  While it might not get much attention from us (outside of the occasional curse word when we stub it) it is key for our balance.  If you lost your big toe, it would require you to learn a whole new way to help balance you body when you stood up, walked or ran.  Yet looking at it from the outside you might not think it was that important.

If we want to know our purpose we need to ask God about our true reason for existence.  Attempts to change His plans or fight against His designs for us is tantamount to fighting against ourselves.  It means we are working against our very nature.  We function best when we function based on God’s (i.e. the manufacturer’s design) for our lives.

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ” Psalm 23:6 NIV

When we fight against God or question the very purpose for which we were made, it also means we are working against the very plan which was set out for our greatest good.  How can the creation know what is best for it without consulting the creator?  Simple, it cannot.

We must get our purpose from God, rather than telling God what we believe our purpose is or should be.  This can be a frustrating process at times but ultimately it is for our own good.

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” I Cor 2:9 NIV

Until tomorrow gents, make it a better day!

Andrew

@ACSloss

@BetterMenNow

 

Devotional Tuesday: Nut Up – A Cure for Low Self-Esteem

Nut_up_or_Shut_up_by_slaya98

“You made the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was reordered in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:13,16

So much of what we do as human beings – so many of the mistakes we make and desires we have – flows from having very little self-esteem.  It often begins to happen when we are young.  Many of us wear masks, strive for unworthy goals, get into bad relationships, compromise our integrity, or just blend in with the crowd because deep down inside we’re wounded and needy.  We forgot who we are: children of God in the family of God.

One of the most important truths I want to impress upon you is this: you were created by God.  You’ve probably heard that before – maybe so often that it has lost its meaning.  So take a minute to let it sink in.  You were created by God!  Before you were ever born, He knew who you would be.  You are designed with a unique combination of abilities, interests, and passions that has never been before and will never be seen in anyone again.  He knows every detail of your life and carefully planned the way you were made.

Not only that, you are created for eternal impact.  Your one-of-a-kind design was intended to last.  He guard over your purpose and destiny, He is aware of all your needs, and he watches you even while you sleep.  Jesus told a crowd that God takes care of even the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.  If He does that for them, how much more does He do that for you?  You are an intentional part of His plan.  You are family, and He is your Father; he designed you for incredible purposes.

If that sinks into your heart – really becomes part of who you are at your core – you will never have problems with low self-esteem.  Your heart and mind will be filled with a healthy sense of self-worth that enables you to know your purpose in life and to fulfill it.

UNCOMMON KEY –> God knew you ahead of time and chose to make you.  Keep reminding yourself of that truth because it will impact every other area of your life.

10 Ways for Single and Divorced Dads to Stay Connected to Their Children

kids

By now you know the deal here at Be a Better Man.  I am married but still not a father.  However, as part of my mission I always want to be sure I am providing as much man related advice as possible; this includes advice on fatherhood.  While I certainly have my own personal parenting philosophy I have yet to be able to put it into practice.  In other words, I generally lack credibility in the eyes of most parents to have any meaningful input regarding how to be a parent or a father to kids.  I don’t agree with this sentiment but if it is all the same to you guys I will allow other men to address issues related to being a dad.

My go to for this advice is All-Pro Dads.  You can catch the blog here.  Today I am sharing a blog they wrote a while back about how single and divorced dad’s can stay connected with their children.  Just because things didn’t work out with their mother doesn’t mean you don’t still have a responsibility as a father, even if your ex-remarries or finds another man.  YOU are still THE father and you should step up and act accordingly.  The world is full with too many knucklehead fathers already, no reason to add to those ranks.  Get your act together and be a great dad!

Here are the top 10 tips for staying connected to your kids.  I hope you enjoy!

  1. Honor and respect their mother:

    Kids know what’s going on. They can read between the lines. They observe and they tend not to forget. Be kind to their mother, be cooperative, be positive, and never talk bad about her in their presence.

  2. Step up and parent:

    Base the relationship on the fact of parenthood and reinforce the built-in expectation that comes with the role. Don’t act like you’re trying to win your kids’ friendship. You are the dad, end of story. Be one.

  3. Refrain from competition with their mother:

    Our children don’t need you to be their friend, the “fun” parent, or the amusement park away from home. Your children need – and want – a home-away-from-home that feels like home. Kids connect to real life and being with dad needs to feel normal above anything else.

  4. Maintain a lifestyle the kids can easily interface with:

    Part of being a parent is having a life the children can enter comfortably. Is your house or apartment child friendly? Do you maintain a clean and hospitable environment? Is your place a safe place for the kids? Being a divorced dad cannot be a return to your “bachelor pad” days.

  5. Game night:

    Make being with dad special – but not in an extravagant way. Set up a regular “game night” routine and be consistent. Interaction by design leads to more natural interaction across the board.

  6. Read books “together:”

    So you miss them when they’re with their mom. Fair enough. How about getting two copies of the same book, reading at the same pace, and then talking about it when you are together?

  7. Keep in the education loop:

    Patent-teacher conferences, field trips, class parties, school plays. Be there. Make sure your children know that they are your priority. Not “fairly high on the list” but THE number one priority for dad.

  8. Be conspicuously accessible:

    Conspicuously accessible means you answer their calls, return emails promptly, ask them about their important stuff and listen with attentiveness. Learn about and practice “active listening” skills.

  9. Be their friend on Facebook:

    Be a consistent part of your children’s online community if they are on one. Don’t embarrass them, don’t comment on everything they ever post, and don’t try to “friend” all their contacts. But do maintain a visible presence. This is part of being in their neighborhood.

  10. Consistency:

    We’ve mentioned this in more than one of these 10 suggestions. But it deserves a category all of its own. Kids are creatures of routine. Routine is how they learn security and where they belong. Make sure you are part of that definition of security. Make sure you are where they belong. You can’t do this any other way than one step at a time, predictably, and over the long haul.

Finding Our Purpose as Men – Part 1

what-is-my-purpose

Guess what day it is, guess what day it is!  Happy hump day everyone!  I hope you are having a great week!  In NYC, Spring is just around the corner and I know almost everyone here in the Northeast is looking forward to warmer temperatures.  Personally, this has been the best winter EVER during my seven years here!  A lot of snow and the weather was cold enough that the snow stuck around for several weeks which is the way God intended.

We are going to continue our series on the Purpose and Power of Men and start discussing how we as men find our purpose.  As always I want to hear from you so leave some feedback in the comments section or tweet us @BetterMenNow I look forward to hearing from you!

 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

We can make all the plans we want in our heads and our hearts but if God’s purpose is not behind them we will never find fulfillment nor live up to our true potential.

It can be a scary thought but it is entirely possible do do good things your entire life but never end up doing the the things that are best, based on God’s purpose for your life.  We have to be careful about getting  busy doing good things that aren’t the best (or perhaps even right) for us as individuals.

You don’t go out and buy a Ferrari if you need a front end loader to get the job done.  Likewise if you need a dump truck but you purchase a Maserati you likely aren’t going to be successful in your tasks.  Just because what we do looks good, doesn’t mean it is helping us get the job done that God created us for.  God is not impressed by all the good that we do, He desires us to pursue those things he has placed on earth to bring to completion.Clear-Sense-Of-Purpose

Jesus knew this to be true when he began to explain to his disciples that he would eventually be crucified.  Peter jumped up and exclaimed he would never allow this to happen.  In today’s Christian lingo he would have said something like “Don’t speak that over yourself, Lord!”  Many of you know the story, Jesus was quick to rebuke him saying “Get behind me Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus was basically telling Peter and the rest of his boys that he knew what his purpose was and why God had placed him on the earth.  More importantly he was explaining to them distractions would not be tolerated.

There are two important keys when finding and discovering our purpose as men.  First we have to remain constant in our purpose and must be sure to reinforce it.

1. Remaining Constant

Read the story of Nehemiah chapters 1 – 6 when you have time.  He served a very important purpose in his life.  However, like all of us he had opportunities to get distracted.  This man was cup bearer to the king of Persia.  Most of us have no idea what being a cup bearer entails or why we should even care.   However, cup bearers were an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king’s cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage.

We see Nehemiah was doing good and serving a good purpose under the King of Persia.  Yet when he received word that the city of Jerusalem was falling apart, under attack and set on fire he prayed to God to grant him favor with the King to allow him to leave his duties and attend to the city.  The King granted his request and Nehemiah immediately headed for the city to rebuild its walls.  This was the purpose God had laid on his heart.

Yet when he arrived and started to do his work many of the men in Jerusalem questioned him and opposed the work he was trying to do.  First, they spread false rumors and tried to slander him.  Yet he pressed on.  Then they plotted to take his life but Nehemiah was aware of their plans and armed his workers to protect the work he was doing.  The men of Jerusalem then set a trap that works against even the best of us today, they suggested a meeting to discuss their differences, “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages…” (Neh. 6:2)  These  men hoped to drag him away from his protection and ultimately harm or kill Nehemiah.

Nehemiah replied, “‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?’ Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” (Neh. 6:3-4)

There was nothing inherently wrong about having a meeting. Many likely would agree having a  meeting under those circumstances might even be proper and “the Christian thing to do.”  Yet Nehemiah knew better and understood he could not suffer from distractions.

He remained constant.

2. Reinforce Your Purpose

When it comes to fulfilling your potential you must often take it upon yourself to reinforce your purpose.  There will be many distractions that will vie for your attention.  As we have already discussed many of these will look “good” but that doesn’t mean you should engage them.

All his life Christ knew his purpose and that was reinforced over and over again throughout his lifetime.  His name meant savior.  In Matthew the angel tells his father to name him Jesus because he will save people from their sins.  Later in his life when he was about twelve years of age he went with his family to Jerusalem with his parents for the Passover.  On their way back home, his parents assumed Jesus was among the large group of family and friends traveling back to their home.  When they realized he was missing they traveled back to Jerusalem to find Jesus in the temple courts.   His parents couldn’t have been happy to find him there given the considerable time wasted in traveling back to Jerusalem.  Yet when they asked him why he didn’t follow them when they left the city he replied “I must be about my father’s business.”

You might be sitting there not knowing what your purpose is or even second guessing what you thought your purpose was.  Don’t worry we will discuss keys to finding your purpose.  In the meantime you should ask yourself a few of the following questions:

– Do I know what God’s purpose is?  Do I know what kind of business my Father in Heaven is running?  What is my role in that business?

– Are you still changing jobs, careers or majors every two or three years?  Why do you think that is?  Are you constantly looking for a job transfer?

– Do you still question what you are about and why you are on earth?

There is a very good chance you will be doing meaningful and important work when you discover your true purpose in life.  Some men are lucky and it turns out they have known their purpose since they were younger (like Jesus).  For the rest of us, it will likely be a different journey more similar to Nehemiah.  He was happy as cup bearer (which we learned was a very important role) and was content to serve out his days in that role.  But then he heard from God and knew immediately what he ultimate purpose would be.

Seek God in prayer this week and ask him to reveal his purpose for you.  Do your best to not make it complicated.  Often times the answer is right under our noses but we are too busy looking at something else to see it.

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

Mark-Twain-Find-Your-Purpose-Inspirational-Picture-Quote