I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.  Job 42:2

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…  Ecclesiastes 3:1

 The first step toward joyful, Spirit-filled ministry is sitting in surrender to God’s purpose.  This must be done regularly; during each new season of our lives.  It is wiping the slate clean, even putting aside the thing you “know” God is calling you to do.  This is an intentional “letting go”; an offering to God.  The immediate benefit is the liberty to hear God without presumption; where we can know that it is God speaking to us about His purpose for our lives.

The long term benefits are an affirmation of the calling and the additional clarity that God provides.  God rewards our surrender with a deeper understanding of His heart – something beyond blind faith.  This understanding includes the positioning of our purpose in His bigger picture.  Then, if the going gets tough, we can know that God is in control and put our faith in the promises found in Psalm 37, Romans 8:28, and elsewhere in Scripture. 

Knowing God’s heart in the purpose has the added benefit of leading us deeper into eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:20).  This is not just life everlasting, but life that is broad and deep – like His love.  Life eternal is abundant life – where peace, joy and love are supernatural.  To find this life in ministry, we must know and surrender to His purposes for us.

Getting clear and settled on God’s purpose also protects us from ourselves, because His purpose is more about Him than it is about us.  It is about giving Him the glory.  It is about agreeing with Jesus’ prayer for unity.  It is about obeying His command to make disciples, teaching them to obey all He has commanded.  Included in these (and other) “general” purposes is the special burden Christ has determined to share with each of us – our purpose.  It’s a gift that invites intimate relationship.  Ministering with a well-anchored understanding of God’s purpose protects us from becoming proud when things go well.  It protects us from grabbing at, or distracting from, His glory.

One last thing about purpose:  The purpose and the plan are not the same thing.  In the simplest terms, the purpose is what God would have you do, and the plan is how He will accomplish His purpose with and through you.  It is important to keep the purpose and the plan separate, but synchronized.  It is important to continually test the plan against the purpose.  The purpose is a safer place because it requires surrender – an intentionally weak position; where the plan requires effort and decision – two things we can subconsciously subvert from God.

We will talk more about the plan in the future.  For now it’s good to know that God usually reveals enough of the plan for us to discover the sacrifice and trust that will be required.  Jesus’ command to “count the cost” becomes real to many for the first time, when we discuss the plan.

Your servant in Christ,