Potential vs. Purpose

The assignment seemed easy to me, but five days later I was still agonizing over it.

At my church’s Women’s Fellowship meeting a couple of weeks ago, I suggested to the ladies that we all choose one word or phrase that we’d like to focus on in the new year. Not necessarily a goal or a resolution, but just an idea or truth we feel God might be calling us to concentrate on. The women all agreed. Then I got stuck.

The morning after Christmas, during my quiet time with the Lord, I was reading a chapter in The Cure, a book that talks about how to move from self-rewarding righteousness into a deeper love-focused relationship with Christ. The authors pointed out that, as we shift our focus from ourselves to the Lord, we mature in our faith, and that maturity brings us closer to fulfilling the purpose for which God created us.

We all have potential. Peter had the potential to become the best fisherman in Israel, Matthew could have become the top-ranking tax collector in his division, and Martha could have won awards for her hospitality skills. However, despite the obvious skills and talents of these followers of Christ, God had a higher calling for their lives.

Peter became a fisher of men. Matthew recorded the life of Jesus in what is now the first book of the New Testament. And Martha modeled great faith for centuries to come when she proclaimed: “Yes, Lord . . . I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27)

I have the potential to do many things—some of which I may eventually do, some of which I won’t. The same is true for you. You have talents and abilities that, given enough time and attention, could make you highly successful.

In my experience, focusing on my potential has been frustrating and tiring at times. I don’t always know where to put my energy and, when I fail at something, I feel discouraged. What if I were to put my energy into trusting and loving Jesus, asking Him to make of my life what He wants, what He created me for?

“It’s up to God, and it involves His glory, your fulfillment, and the welfare of others,” write the authors of The Cure. It’s reassuring to know that if I focus on following Jesus, instead of on trying to prove my worth to others, I will mature into someone who lives a life of purpose and not merely potential.

My word for 2020? I have finally settled on PURPOSE.

purposeSide note: A few hours after I chose my word, I came across this insight in Boundaries (Cloud & Townsend): “Only the honest, purposeful life leads to good fruit.”

BINGO! Just the confirmation I needed. As my friend Paola likes to say, “God is so personal!”

At the same time, I was about to crack open a new journal as I’d been madly writing in my previous one for a couple of months and it was full. So I lettered the quote on the first page. Good to go…

What about you? What is God leading you to focus on in the new year?

Ann-Margret Hovsepian


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