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Affluent Christian Investor | November 12, 2018

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Purpose Tears

At Eternity's Gate (Painted by Vincent van Gogh) (1890)

At Eternity’s Gate (Painted by Vincent van Gogh) (1890)

Last week, we continued our purpose profile series with a lesson from the purposeful life of Nehemiah. The first point we made last week was

  1. You don’t know your purpose because you don’t ask enough questions – and keep on asking until you get an answer.

This week, we want to move on and focus on the second purpose lesson from Nehemiah’s life. Here goes.

When Nehemiah heard the answers to his questions to the visitors about the conditions in Jerusalem, he was deeply moved:

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”

– (Nehemiah 1:4-5).

I sometimes substitute the word passion for purpose. Passion is a driving force that activates your creativity and will to do something. Tears of joy and sorrow often accompany that passion as you respond and make yourself vulnerable and available to a need that exists in the world. The first time I spoke about purpose, people in the room wept. I have seen thousands more cry over the years. Tears and purpose seem to go together hand in hand.

In 1998, I was watching a television documentary about the suffering of women in Afghanistan and began to cry. I remember praying, “Lord, why am I crying? I don’t know anyone there but if you need someone to go to Afghanistan, I’m willing.” In 2003, out of the blue I received an invitation to go to Afghanistan from people I didn’t even know. I went and it changed my life and the course of my ministry.

So my second point is this: 2) Tears go hand-in-hand with purpose. What makes you cry? I’m not talking only about tears of sorrow when a loved one passes or you receive bad news. Can you sit and listen to some kind of music and cry?  Do you cry during a sad movie? Cry with joy when someone is blessed? If you do, then go back to the first point in this Memo and ask the Lord questions like, “Why am I crying? What was touched in me that moved me to tears? What does it mean, Lord?” The answers may surprise you and hold clues that will help you clarify your purpose. It certainly did for Nehemiah.

Purpose is not just a head thing, it’s a heart thing. You need to involve your entire being as you search for purpose. That means you must pay attention to your feelings – it’s called self-awareness – and seek reasons for what you are thinking and feeling. This week’s point goes hand-in-hand with last week’s and next week I will add one more that will create a powerful trinity of purpose points that will help you find and fulfill your purpose. Next week I will be writing from Kenya, so please be praying for safe travels and purposeful work. Have a great week!

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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