Last week, I started this series talking about uncovering your calling, first of all by discovering your Spiritual Gifts in a three-part post. This week, we continue by evaluating our Heart which is the H in the “S.H.A.P.E acrostic.
Why is Heart important where calling is concerned? According to Tom Patterson in his book Living the Life You Were Meant to Live:
Heart is where you’re centred, where you desire to serve, the altar upon which you wish to place your talents. Giftedness is what you are. Heart is where you will most likely apply what you are. Heart refers to empathy, attraction, or “draw” towards a group of people, a field of expertise, or a particular type of service. Evaluating your heart helps you determine where you might best use gifts, where you wish to serve, and whom you wish to serve.
In his book, S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life, Erik Rees offers FIVE passion principles essentially as a framework for this evaluation:
Principle #1 – Know What Drives You: It goes without saying that God should be the ultimate driver but paying closer attention to the cravings God has put in you, the secret prayers and desires that cause you much pondering and deep yearnings in your life could indicate our other core drivers. You can ask yourself:
- What do my dream and desires drift towards?: For me, my dream and desires drift towards helping people in a way that encourages them to break out of society’s mould in order to make progress in the areas of their life which they desire to do so and hopefully eventually discover who God created them to be.
- What do I really want to do for God?: This is based on one of the recurring impressions within me: a deep burden to increasingly see people the way God sees them so that I can love them the way God loves them through the help I’m able to offer, by His grace.
- What motivates me to take action? My motivation stems mainly from two things: 1) I REALLY just want to please God in every way I can with what He has given me and; 2) the discomfort I have when I see people living well below God’s standard for their life and therefore not being bold enough to reach for progress in areas of their life that are important to them – especially if I have overcome hurdles in the same areas.
- What do I crave?: I want to be so valuable to others that they can testify to God’s working through me in their own life and I want to be able to bring my whole self into my passion and work that I do for others.
Principle #2 – Know Who You Care About: There are people God places in our lives, even if just for a season, so that we can help Him reach them and these people are indicated by the categories of people we are naturally drawn to because of particular needs in their lives that we may have noticed. You could ask yourself:
- Who do I feel I can most profoundly influence for God?: Honestly, I think anyone I come across that is ever at a crossroads in life is someone I feel I can profoundly influence for God because I can share my experiences at my own crossroads with the added mention of God being the one who helped me all the way through.
- What age range do I feel led to minister to?: I’ve never been drawn to any one particular age range specifically but I would say that my default target group would be those who have already graduated from University, so usually 21 years old and above – though I’m not sure why that is. It can also be seasonal for me depending on how the Spirit leads.
- What affinity group do I feel led to serve?: People who are intentional about understanding their purpose and their calling but may struggle with how to begin or get stuck at different phases of their journey.
- How could I impact them in a way that maximises my gifts? By helping them get unstuck with the decisions they have to make and offering sound counsel where needed.
Principle #3 – Know the Needs You Will Meet: Having essentially determined your target audience from the previous questions, you would need to decide which needs you intend to meet in the lives of these individuals. Erik Rees’ tip is to “…to start by focusing on the needs that God and others have met in your own life“ which makes sense considering what 2 Corinthians chapter 1 verses 3 to 4 (AMPC) says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.”
Erik Rees offers several categories of needs to help focus our thinking in terms of the needs we will be meeting:
- Spiritual: the focus is on the spiritual condition of a person’s life and those who feel to meet this need long to help people discover Christ and reach their full potential in Him.
- Physical: the focus is on meeting physical needs by using physical resources to ensure people have food, shelter, clothing and other basic necessities.
- Relational: the focus is on helping people develop Christ-centred relationships with others. Those who feel to meet this need usually find fulfilment in connecting people in order to encourage them to find and build satisfying relationships.
- Emotional: the focus is on providing reassurance in Christ for those who are emotionally hurting. Those drawn to meet this need may be interested in counselling, encouraging and listening to others in order to help those in pain go through life situations with the awareness of the help of Christ.
- Educational: Those who lean towards meeting this need enjoy helping people learn or even just showing them how to live their best life possible. They would normally tend to enjoy teaching using various tools and teaching styles.
- Vocational: the focus is on helping individuals maximise their personal or professional potential, with individuals drawn to meeting this need typically using their expertise to train, coach and consult with others to overcome barriers and reach their goals.
Knowing these categories of needs, you could then ask yourself:
- What are the top two needs I love meeting?: I am really most passionate about Spiritual and Vocational needs and I am constantly thinking of ways to build my own expertise and experience in a way that allows me offer more to individuals with these needs.
- Why do I love meeting these needs?: Because I believe that until people discover Christ for themselves, they’ll NEVER understand their true identity – and if you don’t know your true identity, how can you even begin to focus your efforts in the right direction and in line with who He made you to be?
- What lessons have I learned that I could pass on to others?: Lol this deserves a post of its own but my top lesson of all time is trusting God will NEVER be a bad move and letting the Holy Spirit lead you is the key to achieving success that really matters in life.
Take some time to reflect on these and perhaps write some discoveries for yourself based on your own answers.
When you’re done, I’ve got two more passion principles AND tips on how to follow your heart in Part 2.
I Heart you,