Lead People to Their Area of DestinyPublished March 23, 2021
One of the great privileges of leadership–particularly what I call “hospitable leadership”–is the opportunity to help the people we lead find their unique place in this world. Richard Foster underscored the importance of this when he wrote “as long as we are finite human beings we need a place, a role, a function in life. Placeless human beings are among the most miserable in our day.” I suggest that helping the people we lead find their place is not only a privilege, but even more than that…a responsibility.
Human beings were wired from the beginning with the need to know what we were made to do. In God’s first interaction with the people He created in His image, He blessed them and then in the same breath, He purposed them (Genesis 1:28).
There is an inextricable link between blessing and purpose. To live a blessed life, we must live a purposeful life.
In his commentary on Genesis, John H. Walton writes that the essence of the Hebrew word for “created” in the Genesis narrative “concerns bringing heaven and earth into existence and focuses on operation for the assignment of roles and functions.” He connects this to the work of God “in the fixing of destinies.” God designed us so that when we find our place in this world and are and do what we were made to be and do, that we experience profound blessing–a deep sense of destiny fulfillment.
AREA OF DESTINY
At The Life Christian Church in New Jersey, where I serve as Lead Pastor, the language we use to help people find their place in this world is “Area of Destiny.” Area of Destiny is found in the intersect of mission, passion and gifts.
- Mission asks questions such as “what is God doing in the world and what role do I feel called to play in fulfilling His mission?… or… “where am I needed?”
- Passion begs questions like “what good things do I love to do?”… or… “in what meaningful activities do I feel pleasure?”
- Gifts should focus us on the talents we’ve been given and the actions we need to take to develop those gifts into the skills that will allow us to make a unique contribution in this world.
Area of Destiny is a life-organizing principle. It defines the boundaries and possibilities of my life. It is my place, the context in which I am to live and love and work and play.
When we know what our life is supposed to be about then we can organize everything else around it, so everything becomes about the same thing–relationships, vocation, avocations, assignments and usually a specific geography.
Here is an incredibly important point: within our Area of Destiny there is limitless possibility. I strongly disagree with those well-intentioned people who say that we can be anything we want to be and do anything we want to do anywhere we want to do it. I prefer to say that we can do anything God made us to do, wherever He wants us to do it.
I believe that when God created us He designed a role and place specifically for us and that this place is where we connect with our destiny.
Each of us must exercise our will to discover that place and make choices that actualize the possibilities that exist within it. Anything is possible in our Area of Destiny.
LIVING THE LIFE
Russ Hammonds is a hospitable dad and a really smart guy. Though he is now a successful producer of television programming (an Area of Destiny thing for him), he has a degree in physics from Brown University. He likes to understand how things work. His nine-year-old daughter is precocious and unusually inquisitive. Inquisitive enough to ask her dad to explain Area of Destiny. So he drew a Venn diagram for her. In one circle he wrote the word Mission. In another he wrote Passion. And in a third circle he wrote Gifts. And in the area where the three circles intersect he wrote Destiny.
This nine-year-old girl gave her dad’s explanation of Area of Destiny some serious thought. The next day she wrote on a Post-it Note her take on her place in this world–at least in terms of vocation. “Work against racial and sexual (sic) segregation in STEM fields.” My guess is that this sense of place will be refined many times as she grows older. But imagine being nine years old and thinking with such intentionality about your life.
I submit that leaders should constantly challenge those they lead–and as in this case even one’s children–to insist on living the life they were created to live. Possibility and fulfillment live here.
I encourage you to ask yourself two questions today.
- Is whatever I am dreaming, thinking, planning and doing in sync with my God-destined place in this world?
- How am I helping the people I lead find their place?
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About the Author
The New York City Leadership Center; The Life Christian Church
Terry A. Smith is co-founder of The New York City Leadership Center and has served as Lead Pastor of The Life Christian Church for twenty-seven years. TLCC is known for its vibrant diversity and robust leadership culture, with people from more than 132 distinct communities in the New York City Metro area participating in the life of the church. A gifted communicator, Terry speaks in a variety of venues nationally and internationally. His books include Live Ten: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life and The Hospitable Leader: Create Environments Where People and Dreams Flourish.