The smell of buttery popcorn filled the living room as the microwave announced its readiness. On cue, I procured the bag, ripped it open, shook it into a bowl and with a quick spritz of I Can’t believe It’s Not Butter, headed back to the couch to start the movie. It was “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and Bilbo Baggins was the unlikely brave hero. In this prequel of the classic Tolkien tale, Bilbo and his team were on a destiny quest. A journey of bravery into a land of danger to reclaim what was stolen: the right to their former kingdom taken over by a great beast, a dragon of old named Smaug. Along the way as they came closer to the area of destiny, the forest grew darker and the adversaries more fearsome and numerous. At one point Bilbo climbed a tree and was temporarily freed from the dark, oppressive magic that had many of his sojourners in a state of bondage as giant spider prey. He, unlike the others, deliberately went up to a higher place to recalibrate his vision.
I can’t watch any movie without drawing obvious parallels to our Christian walk. Each of us was created with a purpose that only we can fulfill, a ministry to the world that only we can bring. Many are called, but few are chosen. Those who walk their chosen path find that obstacles crop up that can either derail them or make them stronger.
Eight steps to fulfilling purpose
I noticed several clear messages in the movie, which demonstrate the eight steps we all must walk to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives.
1. Once Bilbo knew his destiny, only he could complete his task.
2. He couldn’t carry out a God-sized quest alone.
3. Once a unified decision was made, the destiny walk truly began.
4. He was a leader, but he was not the one in charge initially.
5. Along the way, adversaries arise and increase the closer you get.
6. The way forward during the toughest battles requires breathing space and fresh vision.
7. Once Bilbo arrived at his final battleground, he made the decision to take back the mountain, which had long been captured by the beast.
8. Victory was certain for those who pursued the prize.
Many times in life, people never get themselves started. They dream of what God has called them to do, but for years don’t step out in faith because fear (of failure, judgment, etc.) talks them out of it. Others step out boldly then give up on the way to something great but hard to settle for familiar and easy. In the Bible, 10 spies who surveyed Canaan came back and gave up, but Caleb and Joshua were strong in the Lord and said, “We are well able” to take the land. Those are the two leaders that still inspire us today. I don’t know the other guys’ names. A thousand years from now, what will you be remembered for?
Check in with the eight steps above. Do you know what big dream God has for your life? Or, do you already have a God-sized goal that has you stepping? Whether it’s planting a church, managing a charity, or raising a child, becoming aware of the steps gives you a home-point advantage. The Bible tells us God directs our steps, so step out and expect solutions along the way in sync with His timing.
We are never alone on our quest. God will send others who are co-destined to help. These are leaders in their own right who must run with you and fulfill their part of God’s vision. That’s the beauty of interdependency in the body of Christ. Once all players are in unity of vision and purpose, begin to proceed. Your uniqueness as a part of a greater whole can put you in a leadership role that you never imagined. That uniqueness and your destiny are constantly at risk of antagonism. Paul encountered this when he wrote about a great and effectual door that opened for ministry, and with it, many adversaries. Sometimes, we can get so worn down in life that the only way out seems to be giving up. The enemy would love for you to think that, but God’s word tells us in those times to be still and wait on Him. If we will, renewed strength helps us get back up when we are knocked down.
Like any God-ordained path to greatness, there are troubles along the way. We can either rise to the challenge or shrink back and one day sing a melancholy rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Now it’s time for you to decide. The steps above help you identify your position and stay on track when time wasters, time stealers and tragedies wear you down. Are you zealous to begin? Step out fearlessly. Are you battle weary? Rest a while, then stand and step again as the Spirit leads; victory is just around the corner.
Dr. Anne Arvizu is CEO of Christian Coaching International, Inc., and founder of The CCI Coach Institute. CCI equips leaders wanting to integrate the skills of professional coaching into their own lives for personal development or professional certification. Visit GodCoach.com.