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Part One Show me the path where I should walk,
point out the right road for me to follow.
(PSALM 25:4, NLT)
UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF THE PROCESS Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
All people seek purpose in their lives. Our human nature drives us to search for meaning and significance, to believe that life matters. That's why my pastor,
Rick Warren, touched such a deep nerve across the globe in his bestselling books, The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. In them he explains the five purposes for the church and for our lives, based on the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37--40) and the Great Commission (Matthew
28:19--20): fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship.
I have personally experienced the discovery, hope, focus, and freedom of living with purpose, as the Bible describes. And through years of serving and teaching women, I have seen many of them also embrace their life purposes.
But perhaps, like me, you have wondered, 'Once I discover my purposes,
how will this change me? How does change---progress---happen in my life?
How do I move from merely hearing new information to actually thinking,
perceiving, and behaving in new ways? How can I apply the principles of God's purposes in my life? How do I connect the dots between living amidst the details of my life and living out God's purposes for my life?'
This workbook will answer these questions. Filled with conversation starters, Scripture verses, comments from role models, and self-assessment exercises, it's a tool to help you live the life God intends for you to live---asking him to reveal his plan, doing it his way in his timing, because he is God of all. If you try to demand or invent answers because you are tired of not having any answers, or if you try to get ahead of God in your planning, you will miss his best for your life. Instead, patiently let his Holy Spirit give you answers through prayer, Scripture, reflection, and conversation with another Christian woman as you progress through this book.
AN OVERVIEW: WHERE WE'RE HEADED After I explain some basics in this chapter, the real fun begins. Part 2 will take you through six carefully planned conversations with a Purpose Partner
(more on her in a bit). You will be asked to do approximately forty-five minutes of preparation in your workbook prior to each conversation, so that your time with your Purpose Partner is spent discussing your answers, not reading and writing while she watches you deeply ponder your life. The best advice you can live by during the conversations is to have fun, trust the process, and trust the Holy Spirit. The final 'conversation' in this section is to take what I call a laughter break: to go somewhere with your Purpose Partner for the distinct purpose of not thinking about purpose, but enjoying each other's company.
Relaxation, pacing yourself, and friendship are key elements of your journey.
Part 3 will surprise you by revealing logical vision out of what may have seemed random exercises in Part 2. In three additional conversations you will analyze the data bits you have been storing up in your workbook, thus allowing you to draw some conclusions about God's general and distinct purposes for your life.
The most important thing you can do is to pray for your complete surrender to God's will by the end of the book. Other than that, just keep following the book's directions, week by week, without trying to figure out how each step contributes to the whole process as you go along.
UNLEASHING THE POWER I like to call this introductory chapter the power chapter for three reasons.
First, it explains the power of the pen in moving your ideas onto paper. Second,
it discusses the primary power of God who gives perspective about his plan for your life. Third, it talks about the power of two women working together through prayerfully guided conversations!
Power of the Pen As you jot down your answers to workbook questions during your private preparation time, you will notice a budding clarity over the weeks. Without this process of putting pen to paper, your ideas likely would stay jumbled up inside your head. Expect your written answers to shock you at times and delight you at other times. Write whatever comes to mind first. There are no right or wrong answers, so go with the flow!
Power of a Godly Perspective You gain new perspective when you climb to the top of a mountain to view landscape impossible to see from ground level. Similarly, God can use this workbook as a vantage point to help you see your life as a whole, allowing you to spot patterns and trends about how you operate. This new primary perspective will encourage you to decide objectively if you are happy with what you see, and if you're not, to ask yourself what you're going to do about it.
An important part of gaining a godly perspective about your life's purpose is to take stock of what you have to work with. That's the step successful organizations take before they make a critical decision, launch a strategy, or invest time, money, energy, and resources on any proposed program.
So in Conversations #1--10 you will take stock of who you are, where you've been, what's important to you, and the resources you have available to complete your part in God's larger story. You may be surprised during different sessions to learn:
* How much hurt you've survived
* How talented you are
* How often you have kept God at a distance
* How fear is blocking you from taking action
* How a taste of significance has made you hunger for more
* How God would like you to dream bigger dreams for his glory You will begin to notice whether you have slipped into dangerous habits,
perhaps procrastination, dishonesty, comparing yourself to others, bragging,
or the 'impostor syndrome' of being afraid that you will be found out in some regard. Such obstacles can prevent you from living out God's best plan for your life. But once you recognize these things as weighty, unnecessary baggage,
you can ask God to help you unload them from your life to free you for the rest of your journey.
Power of Conversation Great power is always unleashed whenever two Christian women sit down to prayerfully focus on one single concept for an uninterrupted hour-and-ahalf meeting. Now, multiply that times ten appointments!
In this book, we'll refer to those two Christian women---you and your friend---as Purpose Partners.
What is a Purpose Partner? A Purpose Partner is a Christian woman who is willing to invest in you emotionally and spiritually, because she longs to see you used by God. She will walk alongside you, listen to you, encourage you,
and help you listen to God about his purposes for your life.
Why do you need a Purpose Partner? God did not intend for us to be lone rangers. He wants us to lean on him and on one another to grow. In
1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul writes, 'I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.' Did you notice something important in that verse? God caused the growth, but he used others in the body of Christ to plant, water,
and nurture that growth. His Word also tells us that there is great power in two people working together:
Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one;
they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls,
the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.
(ECCLESIASTES 4:9--10, NLT)