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Affluent Christian Investor | October 18, 2017

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Purpose Clarity

Child at Prayer (Painted by Eastman Johnson) (1873) {{PD-US}}

Child at Prayer
(Painted by Eastman Johnson) (1873) {{PD-US}}

Nehemiah prayed and fasted to clarify his passion and direction forward. Then his big break came. One day he was serving the king and the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad. Let’s read the rest in Nehemiah’s own words.

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me

– (Nehemiah 2:4-9).

The third point is that you must be able to state your purpose and goals with clarity and conviction.  When the king asked Nehemiah what he wanted, Nehemiah had a ready answer. The king understood what he wanted and could then either say yes or no.

People often ask me questions to help them clarify their purpose. At times, I will ask them what they think their purpose is. It’s then that I see just how hard it is for some people to talk about themselves. They will often say, “Well, I think my purpose is, sort of, like to help people. Yeah, that’s it. And I probably, you know, encourage other people, but of course it’s not me, it’s the Lord.”

Does that sound like clarity?  You can’t state your purpose and preface it with phrases like “I think,” “probably,” or “maybe.” You either know your purpose or you don’t. And if you can’t overcome the natural hesitancy that many have talking about themselves, you will always struggle to come up with a clear statement.


In this series so far, we have learned three purpose lessons from Nehemiah’s profile. They are:

  1. Most people don’t know their purpose because they don’t ask enough questions
  2. Tears often go hand in hand with purpose
  3. You must be able to state your purpose and goals with clarity and conviction.

Next week we will continue our Nehemiah profile. Until then, I want you to get your notebook, journal or a sheet of paper. I want you to write down all the questions you can think of concerning your purpose.  Write them all down, even if one question is, “What should I be asking?” Focus your search through good questions and I promise you will have a better chance at good answers. And get comfortable not only talking about what you can’t do, but also what you can. Remember, your objective is to be able to clearly answer anyone who asks, “What is your passion and purpose?”  Have a great week!


Originally posted on The Monday Memo.

John Stanko was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Duquesne University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

Since then, John has served as an administrator, teacher, consultant, author, and pastor in his professional career. He holds a second master’s degree in pastoral ministries, and earned his Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh in 2011.

John founded a personal and leadership development company, called PurposeQuest, in 2001 and today travels the world to speak, consult and inspire leaders and people everywhere. From 2001-2008, he spent six months a year in Africa and still enjoys visiting and working on that continent, while teaching for Geneva College’s Masters of Organizational Leadership and the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most recently, John founded Urban Press, a publishing service designed to tell stories of the city, from the city and to the city.


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