I had a brief but interesting conversation with a friend/coworker last week about purpose and what our purpose is in life. I used Daniel Nash as an example of what my purpose is. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of him - most people haven’t. And that’s the point.
Daniel Nash was a traveling intercessor in the early 19th century. He traveled ahead of a famous preacher, gathered a couple people in whichever town or city the preacher was going to, and would spend at least 3 days praying before the preacher arrived. When the preacher arrived and revival started, Nash couldn’t be found in any of the meetings. He was in another room or house praying for the people attending those meetings and for the power of the Holy Spirit to come down.
If you are familiar with modern era church history, you’ll recognize the name of the preacher - Charles Finney. He was a prominent figure of the Second Great Awakening in America. Daniel Nash, however, never made himself known during the meetings or what he was doing. He did his work behind the scenes and let another take the center stage.
I used Daniel Nash as an example to explain my primary purpose in life - to lift up others.
For one, it fits my personality. I’m usually the quiet one who stays in the background at any sort of gathering. I don’t care much for attention. I don’t care about titles. For me, gratitude goes much farther than showmanship and attention. I’m perfectly capable of taking center stage. I’ve done public speaking and been in some form of leadership since I was 14. However, I prefer to stay off stage and work behind the scenes.
Secondly, and more importantly, is God has gifted me in this area of remaining in the background. Human nature generally says “look at me.” When I’m operating in my calling, only a handful of people know what I’m doing.
The company I work for recently launched an Android app that I wrote all the code for. No one outside of our company (or anyone reading this) will ever know that, but the company will gain recognition by what I did. For one, that means I did my job. More importantly, it means I’m fulfilling my purpose which is immensely satisfying.
When I worked in the dental lab industry, most of the dentists didn’t know me. However, the work I did brought recognition to my bosses and to the lab as a whole. Again, more than just doing my job, I was fulfilling my purpose.
At my church, I filled a lot of roles over the last 10 years - pastor, council member, treasurer, teacher, and A/V tech to name a few. The last 3 years or so, I haven’t done much in the publicly visible areas. Instead, I was working behind the scenes and lifting others up. Shifting to working behind the scenes allowed me to fulfill my purpose much more successfully. I’ve been a pastor’s pastor and a teacher’s teacher. I’ve been a sounding board for other’s ideas. I’ve influenced leaders. Those that I’ve helped will gain more recognition and I’ll slip quietly behind the curtain. For me, that’s perfect.
That’s what I mean when I say my purpose is to lift other’s up. Daniel Nash worked fervently behind the scenes, without fanfare, and let Charles Finney become well known. Nash fulfilled his calling behind the scenes which allowed Finney to fulfill his calling with greater effectiveness. Finney recognized that without Nash, his ministry wouldn’t have been as nearly as effective. So it is with me. If my efforts behind the scenes can allow someone else to fulfill their purpose with greater effectiveness, then I will be fulfilling mine.
The friend I talked to last week about this summed up her purpose as “I make pretty things.” She’s an artist and hers is a public purpose. For me, that means I support and promote her art in whatever way I can. That’s a win win for both of us. She fulfills her purpose by creating art and getting it into the world and I fulfill my purpose by lifting her efforts up and pointing to her work.
The most fulfilling life you will have is the one in which you fulfill your purpose. For some, that may be behind the scenes where only the people in direct contact will know. For others, that may be on the public stage for many to see. One path is no better or worse than the other. The right path is the one that is yours.