Many people struggle with clarity and activation of their God-given purpose. This series is designed to explore how others came to an understanding of what God desired of them and how they walk in obedience to their mission.
Join Sheryl of The Genesis One28 Collective, as she shares some wise words with us.
What does finding your life’s purpose mean to you?
Understanding purpose means not living a wavering, undecided life. When we don’t understand purpose, we waste time, energy, emotion, money, effort; we spend our days listless; we are forced to try to “figure out” life as opposed to living out our lives. Understanding purpose means understanding that I have a future to get to—not future as an event, future as a destination!
Tell us how you “discovered” your purpose
Long story short: Holy Spirit showed me that everything about what God designed us for is locked in Genesis 1:28. Everything He created He gave purpose to it and then said that that creation—and its purpose—was good. We all have the same purpose: be fruitful, multiply, replenish, subdue and have dominion. My purpose is not my skills, my abilities, my creativity, my intellect, my passions or what I like to do. Why? Because these things change throughout life. What I know, what I like and what I can do are tools for purpose, they are not purpose themselves.
Describe the day to day activities of your purpose journey.
I believe everyone’s day-to-day activities should be rooted in the five elements of purpose (being fruitful, multiplying, replenishing, subduing and having dominion) and the realms of possibility that they hold. This starts with knowing that these words (in the original Hebrew) have way more meaning than just having babies and having control over animals. My daily activities should include:
Be fruitful: demonstrate productivity
Multiply: grow great
Replenish: fill, accomplish, satisfy, complete (things or activities)
Subdue: bring resources into my power and use them effectively
Have dominion: rule over (every area of my life or sphere of influence)
THIS is what day-to-day purpose looks like!
Were there any major hurdles you had to overcome to understand more about your purpose?
One major hurdle was reminding myself that purpose exists in five elements. Be fruitful, multiply, subdue and have dominion is not a list of five purpose-related options; because the truth is, if I do two and don’t do the other three, I’m not fulfilling purpose. The entirety of purpose is comprised of these five things. Not five different purposes. For example, I’m a woman, I’m a homeschooling Mommy, I’m a business owner, a female, a foodie—five things, one person. So, I daily remind myself that I need to be doing all five things to fulfill purpose.
How does success by the standards of the world differ from success at purpose?
I always say that success is relative, by any standards. This is because we don’t all live the same lives, we don’t all walk the same paths, we don’t all like the same things. Success for a stay-at-home mother is not the same as success for an astrophysicist, which is not the same for a full-time student, for a full-time missionary or a woman who is a retired school teacher. For some people today, acquiring houses and expensive cars is the demonstration of success; and truthfully, all you need for either of those is a job and decent credit. I know people that work at the Waffle House that drive $40K cars.
God never minimalized one person’s life journey over another, so your path to success is not insignificant compared to someone else’s. I believe that unless we look at success and focus on our own lives through the lens of Joshua 1:8—regardless of our life’s journey—we’ll always have to look at what other people are doing and make comparisons of success.
Three words that describe your purpose journey are?
Birth. Succession. Repeat.
What excites you the most about your purpose?
It may seem strange, but, the thing that excites me most about purpose is its protective nature. When I got a good, clear understanding that I’m SUPPOSED to be fruitful, to multiply, to replenish, to subdue and have dominion (because that’s what God designed me for and put in me) I also realized that it’s important for me to not connect with people and engage in activities that are not conducive to that purpose.
Understanding purpose will protect you and help you make better choices. Better academic choices, better parenting choices, better relationship choices, better business choices. You won’t allow the wrong things or the wrong people to randomly come into your life and hijack your abilities, skills, gifts, talents, money, creativity, emotions, affections, or any other aspect of your life. Purpose is protective!
Why do you believe it is important to walk in obedience to your purpose?
God gets glory in the full demonstration of our purpose. Like I said originally, there are five parts to our one purpose. The biggest thing is that you can choose to opt out—though, it’s not to your advantage to do so. For example, as a business owner, if you are working diligently and producing fruit (being fruitful) and growing your business (multiplying) but you aren’t properly stewarding your resources and using them the right way, but, frivolously spending money on whatever you want (not subduing) then you’re still not in obedience to purpose. They all go together.
What would you say to someone who wonders if God can use what they like for his purpose?
Possibly. And the reason I laugh when I give this answer is because what we like can fluctuate so much. I know women who “like” or think they’re good at different things every 6 months! So, I’m glad that God didn’t rest the whole of our existence in purpose on what we “like”.
But, if you’re confident and stable in what you like or are passionate about, then I believe there’s a way that that passion can drive purpose-focused activities in your life. For example, I have a passion for seeing young women establish solid financial and academic foundations, which became the core for establishing my nonprofit organization (The Infinity Initiative) 10 years ago. As things grew, I saw other needs that could be met for females. But, I can’t do everything. Knowing that I can’t reach every female everywhere, I branched out and started a fiscal sponsorship program for startup nonprofits that focus on improving women’s lives. So, my passion in one area sparked something that has fueled other organizations and enabled them to fulfill their passions.
How would you advise someone to go about finding their purpose?
If life is a test, the great thing about God is that He gives us the answers to the test beforehand. I believe He’s already told us what purpose is in Genesis.
He never intended you to have to take 20 steps for 5 months to “figure out” purpose.
The “how” of your purpose is a different thing. You need the wisdom of God to properly steward your tools. I keep a daily reminder to read Daniel 2:20-23 (AMPC). Why? Because I believe in the God that will take what I have and use it to impact and impress kings and people of influence! Remember: regardless of your life’s path, our purpose is the same, our tools are different.
If you’re a mother, you need the wisdom of God to properly steward your gift to parent your children the right way, because God is using you to pull out of your kids everything He’s deposited in them. If you’re a business owner, you need the wisdom of God to bring the right products, innovation, creativity and services in the marketplace. If you’re an inner-city school teacher, you need the wisdom of God to instruct your students and steer them in directions that defy the odds and shatter the predictions of statistics.
Understand God as the sole source of the tools you have and seek Him for how to use them effectively.
The main advice I can give is whatever you’re starting—a business, a family, a degree program, whatever!—do what your Maker and Creator did and define it. When God created light, He called it “light” (defined it) and told the light what to do (gave it purpose). He defined and gave purpose to everything.
You need to do the same thing. Don’t go into business “just because”; you have no direction, no target market, no sales goals. Don’t marry anybody and start a family just because you’ve been together a long time. Don’t go to school because you don’t know what else to do after high school.
When we say that we want to “be more like Him”, we need to remember that everything God created, He gave it definition and purpose. Everything God started, He finished.
Connect with Sheryl + The Genesis One28 Collective:
• Instagram: @genesis_one28
• Website: bit.ly/GenOne28 (register for a free eCourse on purpose in the Genesis One28 Mentoring Lab)
Join us next week for another interesting perspective on understanding your purpose.