A scenario…A woman is hired at a well-known restaurant for the sole purpose of functioning as the head dessert chef. In order for her to have gotten this job, it is assumed that she has mastered the basics and has mastered them to the point that she can now be creative within the “laws” of baking. Creativity, confidence, and a sense of purpose flow in the kitchen now because she has mastered the basics, how they work together, and what basic ingredients have to be present in every recipe in order for it to be a success. It is assumed that she understands various flours, their different uses and how they respond differently according to the mix of ingredients with which they are blended. It is assumed that she knows that her eggs will perform best at room temperature. It is assumed that she knows butter has to be cold when she cuts it into flour to make streusel toppings, pie crusts, or scones. It is assumed that she knows to preheat the oven for a long time and, when she thinks its hot and ready, let it heat just a little bit more. It is assumed that she has baked for people on a small scale in other places. It is assumed that she has practiced all of these skills in a variety of ways and has much time invested into the foundational principles of baking. She went to culinary school because she loved to cook and create. She did not know where it would take her but she did what she knew she had to do, and that was to get in the kitchen every day. She had to master and incorporate the basics into her daily routine in the kitchen. By doing the tasks that presented themselves to her daily, she was prepared when the opportunity arose for her to step up to operating as a head dessert chef. She mastered Thing 1 then when Thing 2 arose, she was capable and prepared.
Hang in there with me….
A little over 20 years ago, I began earnestly seeking after God’s will, His purpose, for my life. “Lord, I want to do Your will! Lord, what do You want me to do in life? Lord, what purpose have you set aside just for me?” A couple years into this prayer, I remember buying a teaching series on cassette tape by Rachel Burchfield entitled, “How to Find God’s Will and Hear His Voice”. When I saw it, I remember thinking, “Jackpot! Here it is! I am going to listen to this and I am going to know exactly what God wants me to do with my life in order for my life to bring glory to Him.” At first, I was disappointed with her answer. In my spiritual immaturity, I thought I would find that “one thing” hiding somewhere in her message. Instead, I heard things that did not sound very exciting to young woman in her twenties…. things like, “God’s will is to chisel away everything that does not reflect Jesus Christ” or “God’s will is Lordship” or “You can find God’s will through your natural skills”. I wanted something more specific. I wanted to hear something like, “head dessert chef, next week.” The one that struck me as almost too simple (and not exciting at all) was that I could find God’s will and His purpose for my life through my natural skills. It had to be more complicated than that? Today, I read through my notes that I took while listening to this teaching in August 1995. (I kept a journal of all of my personal bible study and prayer time.) I had written down an inventory of what I thought were my natural gifts, at that time. They were dancing (I was teaching hip hop at the time), cooking, entertaining, leadership, creating, and writing. I was putting my natural gifts out before me in writing so that I could be more aware of how to weave these different things into my daily purpose, and serve and glorify God in the process.
“A man’s gift (his craft) makes room for himself and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16
Countless examples are found in the Bible of people who were operating in their natural skills, day in and day out, mastering the basics until they could do it with their eyes closed. Samuel learned the skills to work in the synagogue. These skills enabled him to fulfill God’s purpose by using them to serve with David. David was a shepherd and had mastered all of the skills needed to have the keen eye that a shepherd needs to protect its flock, which was developed from daily use. One of these skills included being able to handle a slingshot with great precision in order to protect his flock from wolves and other animals. These skills enabled him to fulfill God’s purpose by killing Goliath with a slingshot, which then propelled him to become king, and then wrote a large portion of the book of Psalms. Paul did his natural skill of tent making and preached at the same time. Jethro, Moses’ father-in –law, using his natural skills, offered his administrative skills and organizational ideas to Moses to help manage the Israelites. (I would say being the administrative assistant to Moses is a big purpose!)
Paul, in Romans 1:1 states his 3 purposes, in graduating order. “Paul, a bond servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle (a special messenger), set apart to preach the gospel of and from God.” First, servanthood is assumed. Love God and serve him with our whole heart and then walk in that love and serve with humility to those who He places around us. Secondly, if we are believers and followers of Christ, we have been called and given a gift…Paul’s gift was that of an apostle. “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.” 1 Peter 4:10 Thirdly, we are set apart for our unique purpose. The first and second one I am referring to as Thing 1… the main thing. One of the well -known quotes from Stephen Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The problem that arises when we are searching for our purpose, we forget Thing 1, the main thing, the thing that is assumed that we should be doing simply because we are disciples of Christ. We want to jump right on over all of that servant and natural skill stuff to the “unique purpose”, which is Thing 2.
“It is in Christ that we find out who we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11 He has an overall purpose, a global purpose, (Thing 1) which is the umbrella over our unique purpose (Thing 2). In our search for purpose, it is easy for us to turn a blind eye to Thing 1, even with it sitting right in front of us. We actually are stepping over it (and sometimes on it!) in order to rush to find Thing 2. Are you married? Then it is assumed that God’s will and His purpose for your life is to love and serve your spouse, right under His will for you to love and serve Him. (As with Paul…a servant first) Do you have children? Then it is assumed that God’s will and His purpose is to serve them, teach them, train them, provide for them, and love them. Do you have natural skills? Then it is assumed that you will look for ways to use those skills to help others and, in so doing; pass on God’s many blessings. These are all Thing 1.
Master Thing 1. Keep the main thing the main thing. This is God’s global purpose. As you are mastering that daily walk, your Thing 2, your unique purpose, will begin to unfold in a beautifully choreographed way that you could never have imagined. We must “get in the kitchen daily” and focus on Thing 1. As we are operating in Thing 1, we then continue to pray that God will show us what we have been “set apart” to do. Enjoy Thing 1, with eyes straight ahead and eyelids right before you, (this means you are focused on moving forward without distractions but simultaneously aware of where you are presently standing) because Thing 2 will only build on the existing foundation of Thing 1.