The first piece of the Golden Triangle we’re going to look at is you.
I prefer to keep this very short and very simple. You can get way bogged down in mindset stuff and have this endlessly self-flagellating, navel-gazing, self-obsessed mess that throws you off course before you ever get started.
I want to affirm two truths:
- You Matter. An all-loving God died in your place to rescue you and bring you into His Kingdom.
- Everybody else matters too, and there’s more of them. → Your own savior, the most worthy, whole, and valuable person in the history of the planet, the God-man, came to serve lost and sinful humans and to lay His own life down to rescue them and bring them into His Kingdom, too.
Therefore, your life is primarily about service to Him and to them.
But, in order to really serve Him and them, you have to take care of YOU. Nobody ever did anything really, truly wonderful and full of love if they were running on empty and broken down.
Everything that you will ever do has to pass through you as a tool and a vessel in order to get where it’s going. You decide if you are a power tool or a broken vessel through how you care for yourself. Or in Paul’s words: “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”
- BODY → Don’t neglect the “basics”. Here’s today’s reminder that you need to sleep more, have 1 day of rest, drink more water, eat more protein, and eat more green veggies.
That you need to shower often, brush your teeth, do your hair, go to the gym, and maybe even pick up some weights while you’re there. Take your vitamins. Get in the sun. Get in the water. To the degree that you can, use the body God gave you.
Avoid the things that damage the body – junk food, drugs, laziness, lack of hygiene. It makes a much bigger difference than we know, over the long haul. God made us physical on purpose, let’s not throw that away.
- SPIRIT → Not just reading Scripture, praying, studying, and such — but not not that. Definitely do those things.
Just don’t neglect to also feed your spirit beauty, and love, and awe, and wonder, and rest, and hope, and joy, and all of the things that strengthen and nourish your spirit, just as much as you choose to do the things that strengthen and nourish your body. This can be sunsets and laying down in the grass as much as conversations with a friend over coffee, or snuggling your kids or grandkids, or music for goodness’ sake. You know what lights your Spirit on fire. It doesn’t have to be “holy” in a religious way. If you’re in Christ, God has sanctified your desires and made them holy. If it’s not explicitly forbidden, and it brings you joy, then it’s good.
Similarly, avoid the things that harm your spirit. Maybe it’s a place, or a person, or an activity. It doesn’t even have to be sinful. Just not good for you. Love yourself enough to steer clear.
(Fun fact – Biblically-speaking, all of these things together are your “soul.” That’s a conversation for another time. For now, recognize that Body + Spirit = Soul.)
It’s one thing to say all of that – that’s easy enough. The hard part is doing it. And there’s nothing for it but the work, the discipline, and the discernment. You know enough; almost everyone does. Go do it.
Once you’re here, NOW let’s talk about one very important question:
What are you called to?
That’s not an easy-to-answer question for most people, even followers of Jesus. I always liked Frederick Buechner’s answer:
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Maybe there’s no clear answer just yet.
Maybe there is a clear answer, but you’re afraid of obeying it.
Maybe you’ve got a bunch of knotted-up pain whenever you think about “work” and “calling” because either you know you’re not doing what you were made for, or you were made to feel bad about what you were made for by a family member, a friend — or more likely — a preacher or “professional religionist.”
But we’re making this too big – we’re starting to navel-gaze. We agreed not to do that, remember?
Let’s make this whole thing smaller.
What are you called to for the next year?
That’s a very different question. Another is like it.
“How can I best steward my talents, my treasures, and my time to glorify God and make a more garden-like world in the lives of the people I can help in His name?”
This might be a clue to your forever calling. But it might also simply be faithfulness to where God has you now. Maybe what you’re doing now is a vehicle that will take you where He wants you in the long run. Either way, to succeed best in the area in which you find yourself is to succeed in service to God.
Nobody has just one thing they do their whole life. Even actors who seemed “made” for the stage or the silver screen spend early years waiting tables at Olive Garden.
Be content with a “for now” calling, and know that God is pleased with it. We don’t need to decode a secret message whispered from the throne.
We need to be faithful with what’s already in our hands.
Or, maybe… pray hard about this — be discontent with doing what you were not made for. If you pray and pray and pray and you get more and more and more unsatisfied – that’s a clear indicator God is pulling you along someplace else.
All you can do is think about the place where your deep gladness – the things that light you up, the subjects about which you really are an expert, the skills you’ve spent a decade building, even the things that seem obvious to you that other people struggle with — meets the world’s great need.
Where are people suffering unnecessarily? What problems can you solve in hours or days like a superhero? Who is suffering from those problems?
These are the basic ingredients of calling. Whether a calling for your season or for a lifetime.