Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 21: Purpose Stealers

(Graphic courtesy of my son Kalin, who insisted this was cool, not scary!)

We're two-thirds of the way to the finish line, and we've covered much ground here at "31 Days of Purpose." What's most exciting about this journey? I'm still discovering my God-given purpose, along with many of you. And while I've been writing this blog post over the last twenty days, God's given me more and more insight concerning this life-altering pursuit.

Today I'd like to switch gears for the last leg of our journey. For the next several days we'll discuss what I call "Purpose Stealers." These purpose stealers can prevent us from discovering our purpose. They are either sent by our enemy or lurk within our own hearts. These posts may be convicting at times, but just know that I'm receiving a double portion of conviction before you read them! So hang on for the ride. It's going to hurt so good!

Before I present our first Purpose Stealer, may I mention a few housekeeping issues? I have thoroughly enjoyed the two-way relationship with you during this month. Many of you have written encouraging comments on the very days I've needed it. So here's what I need: if you're following along with my blog, and plan to continue, would you add your name (and beautiful or handsome face) to my "Followers?" Also, feel free to share my blog with anyone that you think will be blessed by it. And lastly, if you'd like to receive my blog posts by email, you can subscribe today by clicking on the "follow by email" box to the right. It's super easy to unsubscribe if you choose to later on.

Okay, so enough of those boring details! On to Purpose Stealer #1: The Fear of...

Our first purpose stealer is the fear of failure. Now this one's a biggie. Who in the world likes failure? Failure is disappointing and painful and can completely change the trajectory of our lives.

When I graduated from Howard University, I was pretty pleased with myself. I'd maintained a great GPA and graduated with honors. I entered the job market confident that someone in the television world would want me. So I sent a group of glowing resumes out, answered want ads for any job remotely related and mentioned to anyone who cared that I was searching for a job in television production.

However, I faced a harsh reality very soon after graduation. The entry-level jobs at television stations around the country had already been snagged by my more aggressive counterparts. While I'd waited until the last semester of my senior year to begin searching for a job, the kids that found them had been searching since their sophomore and junior years. I found myself way behind the 8-ball, and therefore, a member of that humble social club: the unemployed college graduates.

There was a pretty notable guy in the Bible who experienced some failure too. Peter was a disciple, or follower, of Christ. He was a member of Jesus' in-crowd, the very first man Jesus personally called to follow Him. And even within this exclusive group, he is identified as one of three men closest to the Savior. He watched Jesus turn water to wine, feed more than five thousand people with just two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread, and heal countless lame, blind and ill people. He had even eye-witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.

And yet, when the time came for Peter to identify with his Teacher, Savior and Friend right before His undeserved death on the cross, what did Peter do? He blew it. When a group of townspeople identified him as one of Jesus' followers, he vehemently denied even knowing Jesus. And not just once, but three times.

Let's pick up the scene after Peter's second denial:
"About an hour later another asserted, 'Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.' Peter replied, 'Man, I don't know what you're talking about!' Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly."
Now, that's failure to the nth degree. Surely, this is when Peter steps into obscurity. After all, who would care what he has to say now?

Jesus cared.

After Jesus had died and resurrected, the Bible records several times that He appears to his followers. During one of these appearances, Jesus singles Peter out, telling him, "Feed my sheep." By this Jesus was commanding him to give His people the Word of God.

Having grown from his failures, and having received the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter obeys Jesus to the nth degree. In Acts 2:14-41 Peter boldly preaches to a crowd of thousands (an amazing sermon, so check it out), and three thousand people placed their faith in Christ that day.

How's that for a come-back?

We have a major choice to make. We can choose to step back, accept status quo for ourselves and possibly never experience failure. Or we can step out on faith in Christ, strive for the best for ourselves and risk failure in a big way. The world will be a better place if we all choose the latter.

So let me finish my unemployment story. When I couldn't find a job in my field (which did happen a few years later) I began substitute teaching. After a few months I received a long term substitute position at an elementary school in inner-city Baltimore. That long-term position turned into three years as a prekindergarten and kindergarten teacher.

Through that teaching position, God gave me the opportunity to pour into children's lives in a way that I wouldn't have at a television station. Teaching little ones help prepare me for motherhood and the four years that I homeschooled my children. It gave me a glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of the lower-income inner city. My three years of teaching afforded me experiences and opportunities I didn't know I needed.

What have your failures done to enhance your life? Probably more than you know.

I'm stepping out on faith in Christ, believing that when I fail, He will pick me up, dust me off, and help me take another step. Will you do the same?

Purposed For Him,



  1. What a great turn around! Thanks for sharing your experiences with unanswered prayers (because I'm sure you were praying for a television writing job, not just looking for and applying for them). I am so seeing that what is regarded by the human eye and heart as a total bummer, God intends it for good... like in Joseph's example in Genesis. Rear view mirror reality in my own life- repeatedly... I guess in everyone's life, but it's only evident when we meditate on past events, in prayer. Many times it seems it's just a bad thing that happened and we miss seeing the hidden message and life-lesson... God's work. Great stuff Carla. Thanks!

  2. You're totally reminding me of recent failure that God completely turned around for my good. I'm so thankful for His love and sovereignty. Thanks, Carla!

  3. God's providence and sovereignty is so amazing. No doubt that there are children who will always remember you - and your love. It's obvious you have a teachable spirit.

  4. Thanks Zarina! "Rear view mirror reality" - I needed that one for this blog!!!

  5. Thanks for sharing that Monique! Love ya!

  6. Jennifer, I think of those kids from time to time. They're no longer kids, but I hope God made lasting impact through me.

  7. I love the concept of purpose stealers! I have never considered: "What have your failures done to enhance your life? Probably more than you know.".....I am going to plug this on my author fb page!