You’ve heard, “God has a purpose for you.” But many people are frustrated, wondering why they’re not finding or experiencing fulfillment in that purpose. It may seem that other Christians are more fulfilled than you, and you wonder what may be wrong. Before going any further, there’s a problem you will need to deal with that may be holding you from your purpose.
God only works with imperfect people. Jacob was a cheat. Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Jeremiah was depressed. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Peter denied Jesus. Paul persecuted and killed Christians. There are countless examples of how God uses sinners who have turned to Him.
But there’s one thing these Biblical heroes had in common. And it’s something that makes the critical difference between those God uses and those He can’t use in any significant way. Here it is;
God Uses Those Who Deal With Their “Stuff”
To the degree you give God permission to deal with the issues in your heart, you become useful to Him.
Sadly, failure to do exactly that is one of the big reasons why many prominent Christian leaders have fallen, and why many Christians act in such a way as to give the name Christian a bad reputation among many.
None of us are immune to this problem. We all have “stuff”. And regularly throughout the Christian life the Holy Spirit will put His finger on something in your soul, pull it up into the light, and say “This right here, it needs to change. Let Me change you here!”
That may be pride, greed, anger, or selfishness. It may be an attitude of entitlement, of needing instant gratification, or falling into discouragement. It may be unhealed trauma from the past, unhealthy patterns you learned from your family of origin, sexual “stuff,” little or big addictions, or something else. When you find yourself among the group of repeat sinners (in some measure we’re all there!) it often indicates you haven’t addressed your “stuff.”
The good news is that dealing with your “stuff” can change everything. The very areas where you have been most impacted by the evil in this world can become the places God makes you most useful for His kingdom.
So how do you do that, so your “stuff” is not holding you from your purpose? These elements are important:
Be Honest about your Story
That means the stuff that happened to you. All of it. None of us come through life without being exposed to evil. A study of school children in LA County found that 98% of them had experienced at least one adverse experience, and most of them had multiple such harmful experiences. Stuff happened to you.
It also means the stuff you did in response. You didn’t wake up one day and decide to be “messed up.” But you did respond in unhealthy, immature, sinful ways in response to the life you experienced. Your sinful nature in itself would be enough! But you also specifically responded to what happened.
I don’t believe Jesus is all that interested in parsing out blame, as to how much is your “fault” vs. someone else’s. But He’s very interested in inviting you into a process of ongoing transformation, whereby all of your “stuff” is dealt with. That involves looking at your story with both honesty and compassion.
God did not design us to live and grow alone; He designed us to thrive being connected. At the time of this writing the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected our ability to connect with others outside the home, but that doesn’t lessen how important connection is.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Yes, the Greek word here is “sins.” The point is that growth and healing happen in community.
A big reason why leaders are often more vulnerable is that they allow themselves to become isolated from deep connections. On the other hand, those people who deal with their “stuff” by connecting with others, such as in support groups, 12-step programs, etc. regularly experience real and lasting change.
Bring Jesus into your Story
Perhaps the most critical piece of dealing with your “stuff” is inviting Jesus right into the middle of it. Your memories, your trauma, your repeat sinning, your sexuality, your relationships, your mental/emotional challenges – all of it.
That’s different from simply saying, “Jesus, please help me! Fix me! ” This means allowing Jesus in. He cannot change you in an arms-length transaction. We’re talking about matters of the heart. And you will need to allow Jesus to come that close, to be with you, before you can experience the lasting change He provides.
The risk in an article like this is that it may seem like a check-list or a short process. It isn’t. Dealing with your “stuff” isn’t a one-time thing. But dealing with your “stuff” in this way will dramatically change how available you are for God to use, and how much you are able to fulfill your purpose. Your foundation becomes strong, and the cracks in it are healed. You become the person who is able to fill the place God designed you for.
For many, the very purpose for which God needs you involves the very areas in which you had to deal with your “stuff.” The thing that was the most messed up God can transform into bread by which others are fed.
And there’s nothing more fulfilling than that!
Your turn: What part of your “stuff” have you not yet dealt with that’s holding you back? What next step are you going to take in addressing that? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- God uses sinners. He has no one else available! But there is a critical element in those sinners He can use; God uses sinners who deal with their stuff. And if you’re not, that’s what’s holding you from your purpose. Tweet that.
Can’t Talk to Anyone?
When you’re struggling with “stuff” it helps to talk to someone. That’s the way God built you. But many people feel they have no one to talk to.
Get our free download When You Can’t Talk to Anyone (Even at Church). And you’ll get some follow-up suggested steps you can take next.