Seeking Closer Approach to God’s Purpose
TWO-PART STUDY This is the second of a two-part study on seeking closer approach to God’s purpose through periodic self-assessment. In the first part, we discussed the self-assessments of Paul and Joshua, in which each looked back at his performance at the end of a specific and well-known assignment. Part 2 of the study focuses on improving personal performance through periodic self assessment.
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR HUMANKIND First, we discuss a generalized understanding of God’s purpose for humankind: he creates each person to represent him (i.e., conveyor of his image) as his provider assistant (i.e., channel for his compassion) among people and in interactions between people and other earth inhabitants.
PERSONAL PERFORMANCE GOALS Second, we discuss how a person could develop personal performance goals and modify the goals periodically as necessary based on the generalized understanding of God’s purpose for humankind and the person’s belief regarding God’s specific assignments for him/her.
PERIODIC SELF ASSESSMENT Third, we discuss periodic self assessment, whereby a person evaluates his/her performance periodically relative to the personal performance goals and modifies the goals as necessary, to seek closer approach to God’s purpose.
God’s Purpose for Humankind
STATEMENT OF GOD’S PURPOSE God stated his purpose to “…make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” [Genesis 1:26] to govern over all earth inhabitants. After creation, he instructed human beings to (1) be fruitful and multiply, (2) fill the earth and subdue it, and (3) rule “over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” [Genesis 1:28]. Through this instruction, God confers humankind with unlimited authority to occupy, take ownership, and seek and implement effective uses of the earth and inhabitants to provide for their needs. The authority is unlimited but must be exercised on one condition, that everything we do must convey the image of God to the participants and observers.
PROVIDER ASSISTANT God’s instruction to humankind implies collective and individual responsibilities. The individual responsibilities arise from the fact that the collective responsibilities need to be fulfilled through the activities of individuals, one individual at a time. Because the responsibilities are for the purpose of providing for the needs of human beings and other earth inhabitants, they confer on each person the role of God’s provider assistant. He is the ultimate provider but often channels his providing through human beings. Therefore, God created every person to be his provider assistant.
GOD’S REPRESENTATIVE To satisfy God’s purpose, the provider assistant function must be performed in the image of God. An activity satisfies this condition if it provides the participants and observers an opportunity to feel the hand of God or know him better. An activity is authorized under God’s mandate if it conveys the image of God but is not authorized if it does not convey the image of God. This principle means that God creates every person to represent him in interactions with other people, in a similar way that an ambassador represents his/her country. Each of us is God’s ambassador to the earth.
CHRIST’S TEACHING ON COMPASSION Christ explained our responsibilities as God’s provider assistants through parables: Parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25–37] and the Sheep and the Goats [Matthew 25:31–46]. When a need exists, God positions a person or several persons to provide for the need. To fulfill the provider assistant role, the person needs to recognize the need and do what he/she can to provide for it. The service may be for himself or herself, other persons, or community; and could be provided free or for a fee.
INDEPENDENT BLESSING FOR FREE SERVICE Through the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Christ explains that a person will earn blessings for providing for another person’s basic need without expecting a reward [Matthew 25:31–40]. Also, he explains that a person incurs punishment if he/she declines providing for a basic need placed on his/her path [Matthew 25:41–46]. The blessing for providing for a basic need free is independent of the feelings or actions of any third party and is earned when a service is provided and received, e.g., “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…” [Matthew 25:35].
DEPENDENT BLESSING FOR FEE SERVICE Christ taught the principles of for-fee service through the parable of the Talents [Matthew 25:14–30], in which he talked about increasing value through enterprise. Also, interactions between Jacob and Laban on labor and wages, which we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, provide an example of for-fee service. In a for-fee service, one could be rewarded through profit or blessing, but the blessing is dependent on another person’s feeling and faith.
PROVIDER ASSISTANT TOOLS Christ taught through the parable of the Talents [Matthew 25:14–30] that God grants each of us capabilities to enable performance of our provider assistant responsibilities. Furthermore, he challenges us to grow and diversify what we received. Every person chooses how to deploy his/her capabilities and is rewarded for growing (increasing the value) or diversifying (increasing the variety of deployment). In contrast, as illustrated through the third character in the parable, a person will be punished for choosing stagnation.
Self Assessment to Improve Performance
In this self assessment, you periodically evaluate your use of what God has given you. Have you deployed your capabilities to address your assignments effectively? Can you change something you do, the way you do it, or your understanding of your assignments in order to approach closer to God’s purpose? Understanding your assignments better requires closer and clearer communication with God. As we discussed in a previous bible study at This_Link, God can communicate with a person in several ways and chooses an effective form of communication each time. In any case, a person will communicate closer and more clearly with God if and as he/she grows spiritually.
While developing my understanding of using self assessment to improve performance, I was fortunate to witness a sermon at This_Link about spiritual growth. The pastor discussed foundation principles and requirements for spiritual growth, which I now repeat here.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH PRINCIPLES Based on 2 Peter 1:3–11, the principles are: (1) a relationship with God increases our effectiveness in life [2 Peter 1:3–4], (2) spiritual growth is “a coming to God and continuing with God” [2 Peter 1:5–9], and (3) only occurs by staying connected with him [2 Peter 1:10–11].
SPIRITUAL GROWTH REQUIREMENTS The pastor also identified the following requirements based on Hebrews 10:22–25.
- Engage in continuing personal devotion, whereby you talk to God and learn his word in your own way by yourself: “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…” [10:22].
- Remain steadfast, with unwavering resolve. Do not stray from your commitment to God. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” [10:23].
- Establish and maintain meaningful personal connections, with people that understand you, are aware of what is happening in your life, and can boldly correct you if they think you are doing something wrong. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” [10:24].
- Fellowship with others regularly and faithfully. Share worship, bible reading, and prayer. Go to church regularly and avoid “…giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—” [10:25].
Suggested Steps in Self Assessment
Your self assessment will become more meaningful as you grow spiritually. However, the specific things you do in self assessment are personal and best developed by yourself. Here, we suggest a few steps, some in the form of questions you may consider as you develop your personal approach.
- Identify your capabilities: things you can do as well as others, better than others, or efficiently.
- Identify how you use your capabilities: current or previous use and other use that you may like to develop.
- What are your options for improving or gaining more control of your output?
- How can you help your associates to improve, motivate other related or complementary activities, or minister to others through your activities?
- Do you provide service free or for-fee and would you be more effective by modifying the mix of free and for-fee services?
These and similar questions can be applied to in-family and out-of-family activities to help you evaluate how you use the capabilities that God granted you and help you steer yourself closer to God’s purpose for your life.