Knowing our purpose allows us to fully live— and give—as we were uniquely designed in our mother’s womb. The book Wholehearted Purpose: Women Discovering Their One-Of-A-Kind Design by Mary Tomlinson is full of women’s stories about their purpose journeys and how it has impacted their living and giving.
Sharon Epps’s story is a perfect example of discovering purpose and its impact on knowing God’s call in our lives. Enjoy this excerpt from the book:
I’ve been a disciplined planner most of my life. Right after college, I developed a mission statement. I never could remember my mission statement, however, without pulling out my folder; but I always knew it had a teaching component in it. I would review my mission statement annually, but it never really impacted my day-to-day decisions. At times, I would feel that I was living on-purpose, but those occasions were more defined by my job assignment than by intentional daily decisions.
As a part of the Inspiring Generous Joy Conferences, I originally borrowed the 2-word purpose of “Connecting Meaning”. I felt comfortable with it, but it did not feel complete. Going through the extended On-Purpose coaching process, we identified and enriched my 2-word purpose statement to Cultivating Understanding, and it fit like a glove. For me, cultivating means tending, caring for, and doing the things that promote growth. Understanding is deeper than knowledge when applying it to train others to have clarity.
In just a few short months, it has guided me in making several key decisions. I am a partner in a three-year-old organization. As with many start-ups, each partner has worn multiple hats to get the organization off the ground. Because the organization helps women live fulfilled lives, I knew it was on-purpose for me to be part of it. However, I didn’t feel on-purpose in my work! Through the use of my purpose statement, I realized that although the organization was on-purpose for me, what I was doing within the organization was not. I was spending the majority of my time doing back-end operations, because they needed to be done—rather than speaking, teaching, and writing content (my on-purpose activities). Using my purpose statement allowed me to negotiate different responsibilities with my partners. Now, both the organization and I personally win, as I contribute my best by being on-purpose.
I’m also involved in consulting ministries on leadership, strategy, and messaging. Recently a close friend invited me to partner with him on a consulting project that focused on translating technical training into creating client-oriented learning tools. Talk about being on-purpose to Cultivate Understanding! Through this project and the clarity I’ve received from my purpose statement, I am focusing my consulting practice on these types of projects, so that I will more strongly serve out of my purpose.
In my giving, my purpose statement of Cultivating Understanding coupled with my passion for young leaders has helped target the giving of my time and financial resources this year.
One example would be the opportunity I received to serve on the Board of Trustees for a major Christian University. As I prayed about my response, I realized that it was squarely on-purpose and in my area of passion. It was one of the highest and best uses of my generosity of time and skills. After this first year, I can confidently say that I am making a difference by cultivating understanding and am experiencing great joy in this on-purpose giving.
Another example is our year-end financial giving. In previous years, I’ve wrestled with how to respond to the emotional appeals we received for funding clean water and housing needs. I’ve experienced guilt for not making those appeals a major part of our giving portfolio. This year, I realized that God had raised up others with a purpose and passion for those human service ministries and it was with joy that I was able to instead target funds for leadership development to cultivate understanding.
Knowing my purpose has helped me say “yes” with confidence and “no” to off-purpose opportunities presented to me.