“What do I do now?” It’s the question that naturally follows once we’ve identified our purpose.
Years ago, after a trip to India, that important question consumed me as my plane flew home, half way around the world. Scenes of abused women swirled through my mind. I was plagued with thoughts of hopeless women in dire circumstances. The weird mix of all the feels– grief over their plight, trust in God, happiness in the beauty of the Indian people– swallowed me up.
With lots of time to ponder on that flight, something big shifted in me. I couldn’t just go back to my old normal. Once you know the needs, you can’t unknow them. My heart required action.
You might be in that place today. So many of you have left comments and emailed me. You know where God is calling you– stepping up to care for an elderly parent or neighbor, feeding hungry people, fostering children, creating more equity in your work place, mentoring women coming out of crisis, teaching a study for people who don’t know God. The list you’ve shared with me is long and beautifully varied. You’ve made my heart swell with gratitude. Many of you have found your personalized purpose! Now, you’re in the same boat that I’m in.
Once you know the needs, you can’t unknow them. Our hearts require action.
There are 4 steps that I’m delving into as I’m seeking to serve in my personalized purpose.
True confession… I’m such a doer that slowing down to pray is difficult for me. Yet, I know that it’s biblical and essential. This quote forever changed my perspective, “Prayer isn’t just the preparation for the work. It is the work.”
For most of us, prayer is the foundation and the first step toward something else. We continue praying as we step into additional useful endeavors. But can I propose something else? In an email from one dear friend in our community, she expressed her heartbreak at being confined to her household by poor health and circumstantial issues. My heart cried out with hers. In this case, friends, will you consider that prayer is the most important work you can do? That’s not just a clique. It’s true.
You are valuable as you pray from your bed or your living room chair. God values you and the words you send to Him about your personalized purpose.
No matter if prayer is the single thing that you’re able to do or if it’s a layer in your doing, it’s an essential element of serving in our personalized purpose.
Very, very few of us are called to re-invent the wheel by founding a non-profit. Big dreams like those seem required to me sometimes, but they’re not. Usually, the best step we can take is to research and find someone who is already doing the work well and to join our efforts to theirs.
My friend and neighbor, Cynthia, runs a non-profit that matches women in crisis to mentors. It was a joy to serve in her organization for a one-year commitment to mentor. Cynthia trained our group of mentors about topics like poverty and addiction, teaching me things that rectified my blind spots and ignorance. She counseled us about setting boundaries and loving well. She was there to help and answer questions when I ran into sticky situations. In short, Cynthia was an expert in her field, and she helped others join her in healthy ways. It was an invaluable experience. Without her help, I think I would have done more harm than good for my mentee.
Consider your personalized purpose. Maybe you’re called to serve those in your household right now, but if you’re called outside your home, I highly recommend finding someone who is an expert in the area that you want to impact. Join them as a volunteer and embrace their training and support.
Volunteering/serving is a crucial part of fulfilling our personalized purpose because it creates human connection which leads to true caring. Personalized purpose can’t be fulfilled at a distance.
Giving of our time as volunteers is essential, but let’s not underestimate financial giving. Every non-profit and service organization runs on dollars (or pounds, or rupees, or lira, or yen…).
When I joined Designed for Joy’s Year of Impact, each one of us committed to fund-raising for DFJ. My friend Cary explained that this is a skill that each of us needs to develop in order to support the organizations we care about. (Excited to share more about this with you in the next post!)
Here’s how I break down opportunities for giving financially from our household. Barry and I do this through:
- Tithing at our church which also gives to community charities and missions.
- Giving locally. This year our local organization that we’re supporting through giving is Designed for Joy.
- Giving globally. We give both to Compassion and Mission India.
- Fund-raising. You may not have any extra funds right now– that was surely the case for us until recently when college tuition bills stopped–but you can always fund-raise for the organization you serve. I have one friend who frequents thrift stores to find treasures that she resells. She gives the profit to her favorite non-profit. Another friend makes jewelry that she’s selling to raise funds. Facebook makes it easy for you to do a fund-raiser for your birthday. One of my friends just did that this month, and she raised $200 for Designed for Joy!
In other words, you don’t have to have extra money to be able to give. Unleash your creativity and gifts and see where it takes you!
The last way that you can step into do-ing for your personalized purpose might be the most fun. Tell people about your cause/organization!
Last week, I did a poverty simulation through Year of Impact that was truly life-changing. I realized that many of the biases I’ve held about people in poverty are untrue. I saw through the simulation how hard many of them work, the harrowing obstacles that they face, and the difficulties for families. It was a real eye-opener for me and all the participants.
At the end, Cary commanded (in her sweet southern voice), “Now, go tell somebody!”
(See how I did that? I just told YOU! :))
All of us have limitations to our time, money, and talents, but we all have the ability to go tell people what we’re learning about our personalized purpose. We have connections we can make within our spheres of influence and in our community.
Yes, this is dipping our toes into the “speak” part of our process, but we can do it!
When all our listening and feeling reaches a tipping point, we must move into do-ing. That’s when our personalized purpose starts making a difference in the world.
It’s My Fault (join me!): I had a huge “aha moment” this week about a mistake I’ve been making as I communicate with y’all. If you’re curious and want to hear about it in real time, like me on Facebook where I’ll be doing some FB Lives next week.
Question for You: Have you taken any of these four steps? If so, tell us about it! If not, which one do your feel compelled to take first?
Related Resource: I wish I could introduce each of you to my amazing friend Cary, co-founder of Designed for Joy. I know you’d love her as much as I do! The next best thing is hearing her story of stepping into her personalized purpose. Listen in to Episode 165 of Grit ‘n’ Grace: Gathering People for Good at Your Table. Cheri and I talk to Cary about how she connected her gifts to her personalized purpose in order to make a difference. (You can also catch us on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.)