Message: Stage 3: Finding Your Purpose
Scripture Text: Exodus 14:10-13
1. I see my faith as a living thing, something that grows and develops.
a. In seminary I was introduced to a book written by James Fowler called Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning
Fowler observed that people’s faith and
spirituality developed much the same way as people themselves do: growing through stages.
b. What I pray happens is that studying stages of faith will help you find the place where you are now in your faith and, also as important, see where you’re going next.
2. Stage 1 is by being dependent for everything and needing to trust God and others to share
3. faith with you.
a. Stage 2 is when you start disengage from others’ faith and head out on your own, while still submitting to coaching, teaching so your mistakes are recoverable.
4. Stage 3 we’ll call the “Young Adult” stage and it’s the time when you discover your calling and put your faith into action.
a. Fowler called this stage the ‘Individuative Reflective’ faith where you have a direction your faith wants to go in, but you’re running into doubts, difficulties, and your own mistakes and shortcomings. What do you do now?
The young adult usually finds best way to sort that conflict out is to commit to something, refine your strengths, and learn how to manage your weaknesses.
b. A few weeks back I attended a conference where a venture capital fund manager was sharing how he decides which tech start-up companies to invest millions of dollars at a time.
There’s not much of a product yet – it’s too early in the development process. That’s why funding is needed.
So he judges these usually-young adult entrepreneurs based on how much of a “Hassle-Factor” they will have. Turns out the word he used only sounded like “hassle.”
c. He was talking about something called “self-awareness.”
Psychologists call it an essential part of your EQ, or emotional intelligence. It’s the ability to accurately monitor and respond to your inner life instead of shut down, lash out, or overreact to difficulties and failures.
5. Take the example of Moses. He is leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt and is at a moment of decision and action.
a. Read Exodus 14, excerpts
b. Between a rock and a hard place, Moses takes a stand for God’s exit strategy and also commits himself to a direction.
You can see he still carries what he gained in previous stages: a childlike trust and willingness to learn.
But reading ahead a few verses you find the same word repeated several times: “stretched.”
I think that verb literally describes how Moses extends his hands over the water as they divide and give the people safe passage.
But it also describes what’s happening to Moses himself – he is allowing himself to be stretched.
d. As a result of his commitment to action, he found his identity and role: Servant of God.
e. Do you know your identity and role in God’s work in the world?
6. The biggest experience of this stage is choosing your major. Every young adult asks him or herself the question, “What am I going to do with my life?” The follower of Christ asks, “What am I going to do with my faith?”
a. A key task is discovering your spiritual gifts – the unique abilities the Holy Spirit of god has given you to be His servant in Jesus’ church and in the world.
Self-awareness helps you meld your gifts with other things: sense of calling, passion to make a difference, location, connections and opportunities.
b. But at some pint you’ve got to take a stand, commit yourself to a course of action, and let yourself be stretched.
I remember my ‘Red Sea Moment’ when God made clear to me how He wanted to use me as a Pastor. I committed myself then and I still am, every day. The moment also came on my wedding day, when I first became a father.
Every person of faith has
their own Red Sea Moment.
7. Choosing your Major is the key experience, but here are three other important experiences to have during this stage of faith development:
a. Fill your resume’
A great part of a young adult’s stage in life is a freedom to explore tons of opportunities and add valuable experiences to their sense of call.
The key is matching the experience to your gifts so it’s more than just a cool diversion, but something that builds your abilities.
b. See the world
There’s also a freedom to explore other viewpoints, world-views, cultures and customs, even literally to “see the world.”
All these travels can sharpen your sense of calling.
c. Join a cohort
As you strike out on your own it can be dangerous to be completely alone. You have no sounding board to process your new experiences. Having a small group of others pursuing their callings too is absolutely critical at this stage.
a. Are you at stage 3? Are you past it? Do you need to double back and work on things you skipped or missed?
b. What are some stage 3 experiences you can have starting this week?