IL 9/22/23: Embrace Your Purpose

IL 9/22/23: Embrace Your Purpose

(Audio Transcription Below)

July 2024 is the Summer Olympics. You are all going to watch some part: track and field, basketball, rowing, swimming. Right now, the athletes who plan to compete in these games are on a training schedule which will land them in the best shape of their lives so they can compete for a gold medal.

Challenge Yourself: Ten months from now, what two or three events do you want to be in peak shape for?

Accountability: Write it down and share it with someone. Share it with me if you like and I will check-in and see your progress.

Core Training: Think of Run to Win as our training guide for the year. Seventeen core exercises to keep yourself, your soul, in shape so you might run to win. Read one chapter every two weeks, challenge yourself to incorporate something from what you read into your daily routine.

Today we are going to talk about Embracing Your Purpose (chapter 1 from the book).

In 2004, Matthew Emmons was set for an Olympic gold medal in sharp shooting. After several rounds of shooting, Emmons was so far ahead that on his final shot he only needed to hit anywhere on the target to secure his win. He missed completely, quickly learning that he was aiming at the wrong target. Instead of looking at his target, he was looking one target over. Gold, silver, bronze – all gone.

Question about purpose: What target are you aiming for? If your whole life is an arrow or bullet, what target do you hope to hit? It’s very easy to spend your entire life aiming at the wrong target!

To get your answer, think about what story you live in, what narrative plays in your head that promises fulfillment, purpose or the Good Life? Each of us are main actors in our own play which we hope will lead us to a sense of purpose or fulfillment. What stories do you tell yourself?

If I could just…

When I _____ then I will be satisfied

If if weren’t for ______ then I would be happy

How do you answer? In Ecclesiastes, the writer tried everything under the sun – wine, women and song. And his conclusion was that it was all vanity, chasing after the wind.

In the book, The Good and Beautiful Life, an older gentleman named Ben thought he was pursuing happiness but he found out he spent his entire life aiming at the wrong target! Don’t ruin your life by aiming at the wrong target. Don’t live the wrong life and then die.

To offer help, I want to step back and take the widest view possible to talk about finding your purpose: Titus 2:11-14. Titus is a Greek convert to Christianity and an apprentice to Apostle Paul. At some point, Paul and Titus visited the island of Crete, just off the coast of mainland Greece. Crete had a terrible reputation. Greek mythology stated that Zeus was born on the island and Zeus had a reputation for seducing women and lying in order to get his way. This mythology was reflected in the culture. After Paul visited several of the harbor towns of Crete, he needed someone to leave behind to stand against the corrupt culture and to develop godly leaders in the new house churches. Who does he call? Titus gets a tough assignment.

One of the Greek words for liar was kretizo, which means “to be from Crete.” In Titus 1:12, a Cretan prophet, one of their own, says that “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

What a reputation! Someone from their own tribe is saying they are liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons. Titus is now trying to take these men and transform them into godly men.

Titus’ specific assignment is to teach (Titus 2:1) and in chapter two, Titus teaches the people in Crete (and in Wilmington) about purpose.

  1. The Grace of God Appeared – Jesus! Jesus brought salvation! Understanding the order is important:

Salvation is a gift – Sanctification is a work
You don’t work FOR salvation – You work FROM salvation

So when we talk about “training,” we are not talking about anyone earning their salvation. We are embracing the disciplines in the book because we have been saved, not in the hope of getting saved. It’s important that you understand the distinction.

  1. Training (vs. 12) The idea is supposed to make you think of a child’s education. Once salvation has appeared in your life, then you must re-learn how to live. It’s like going back to being a child and learning how to successfully operate in this world according to a new standard. Before knowing Jesus, your mind was wired one way, not it needs to be rewired.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind
Romans 12:2

Paul goes on to give us some core exercises in the Christian Training Program:

  • Say NO: Renounce or reject old habits and old narratives. When you are rewiring old habits or erasing old messages that play over and over in your head, can you just say “NO”? This is where I love Paul and his sports analogy. In I Corinthians 9, Paul knows he has to beat his body and make it his slave. This means he was a slave to old habits and old narratives.
  • Say YES to Selfcontrol: I will take responsibility for myself, I will not blame my responses to life on circumstances or other people.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28

Why is this so important to purpose? Because without self-control, you can’t see your purpose or maintain your heading toward that purpose. That’s why the order is important.

Some of us are careening out of control and meanwhile yelling, “What’s my purpose?” Let’s start with self-control, saying NO to ungodliness and saying YES to an upright, rewired life.

3. Purpose: Titus 2:14 reminds us that God redeemed us and is purifying us for his own possession and to be zealous for good works. Our salvation and sanctification lead us to joining with God in doing good works. Where in the Bible do we first see good works being done? In Genesis 1, God was doing good work, part of which involved creating beauty and space and opportunity for human flourishing. What’s truly astounding in Genesis 2 is that it’s God’s design to go into partnership with people to extend his good work around the world. So when Paul uses the term “good work”, I think one thing he has in mind is continuing our Genesis 2 purpose – partnering with God to create beauty and space and opportunity for human flourishing.


  1. Are you aiming at the right target for your life purpose? How would you know?
  2. According to the Apostle Paul, in order to really thrive in purpose, we must first exercise some measure of self-control. Where is there a weakness in the wall around your soul that if not addressed might disastrously flood your life?
  3. When you go to work, do you consider yourself in partnership with God? How or where are you doing good work to create beauty and space and opportunity for human flourishing?

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