THE IDEA OF PURPOSE
One of the most discussed topics in every facet of life is the issue or question of purpose, suddenly everyone wants to know why they are alive? What is in the spiritual manual of their lives? This particular questions among others has led to a spring of a new specialization in human behavioral question, invariably we have more motivational speakers and life coaches all round including the writer and it is not a thing of surprise.
But, before I continue I will like to look at what purpose is in the general parlance and what it is in the biblical context, generally purpose as a word means ” the intention, aim or function of something; the thing that something is supposed to achieve”, also it is “The reason for which something is done, or the reason it is done in a particular way”. In the biblical sense, and in my opinion it cannot be more defined than the words of God in the book of Jeremiah 1:5 which I will reproduce in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, “Before I formed Thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”. Obviously, God telling Jeremiah what he has called him to be when Jeremiah himself didn’t know why he was on earth is the concern of not only the believers of Jesus Christ but also that of those who don’t believe in the existence of God completely.
Proverbs 20:18 “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war”. A close look at part A of that scripture will show that purpose as orchestrated by God can be established via counsel which include; mentoring, discipleship and life coaching which has become one of the way many think is the way out to achieving purpose in life, but my concern has always been that though these are the right ways to establish purpose people hardly ever care to know of the spiritual implications of mentoring, discipleship and life coaching and because of this reason many mentors, those who disciple and life coaches think and have succeed in making their followers to think and believe that to succeed and to live a purposeful life that there is one general principle to be applied, one of the examples of such philosophy is that those who change things or make things happen don’t sleep at night or don’t sleep up to eight hours a day, so if you constantly sleep eight hours a day or use your night for absolute rest you are on your way…… and that’s why a life coach who has barely led more than five people thinks he can proffer leadership skills and solutions useful to leaders in the church or in other aspect of life generally including, politics, business and so on. However, I will like to talk about the spiritual implications of mentoring, discipleship and life coaching, one is that, you have to be careful while choosing a mentor because during mentorship many things happen, and it include exchange of ideas, thought and other characters the mentee would not necessarily love to acquire during this time of learning because mentoring goes beyond the physical, because the person also acquire both emotional the spiritual attributes of his mentor whether consciously or not, let me show you in the Bible, Samuel a very reputational judge and priest before God and the people of Israel had Eli another mighty man of God, in fact a high priest in the other of Aaron around him when he was growing and living according to the purpose for which his mother Hannah had made a covenant with God concerning him. Beyond the covenant concerning Samuel’s life, is the fact that, Eli was a good man, he stood before the people and God uprightly throughout his life time but he had one problem he could not perfectly control or model his children into men of integrity like him, he failed and it was so bad that his generations yet unborn lost this prestigious priesthood and in war lost his two sons, the covenant box and also his life. Samuel who was a firsthand witness of events and in fact received the prophecy of the dooms day grew up and also failed in his parental duties and his own was worst that the people complained and asked for a change of government pattern, that God said Himself the people have rejected him. The question is, was it that Samuel did not know Eli his father in the Lord died because of the way his children behaved before God? No! But simply there was something he had received unconsciously from his mentor and coach which made him a replica of the person whom he received the counsel to establish his purpose in life. This story is enough to show the depth and implications of submitting ones spirit, soul and body for mentoring, discipleship and life coaching, it goes to say that if your mentor is a fantastic liar you are not safe for long because the Bible says in Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed”. This agreement needs not to be in writing or by words but it surfaces by implication and we don’t want to talk of Elijah and Elisha today how Elijah ordered fire to consume a fifty and one twice, and how Elisha who was exclusively under the pupilage of Elijah commanded that two beasts eat up little children.
Another important thing to note is that no one general principle is applicable in life to achieve purpose, I will simply make this point using the life of two individuals in the Bible who lived life and achieved both success and purpose in their lives
David and Samuel, David the little shepherd boy grew up in what we will consider a slum or village today, grew up without formal education or let me say the bible did not account for his education or where he learnt his act of being a shepherd from, and I don’t want to draw the conclusion that they were generally nomads, but my concern is that his growth and development in life was not what some will probably consider a life that will definitely succeed because he was only good for the bush, but he learnt the act killing what ordinary brave men would not do, chase after a lion and bears to retrieve his sheep, he not only get his lamb back but usually kills the beast without sustaining any injury himself, according to the design of God for his life this experience was necessary to prepare him to face Goliath who was an exceptional giant, and when the time came he(David) did that with the help of God, I want to say that normal human would not want to face a lion, but this events in the bush most have in a way inform the mentality of David that since I can kill a beast as a lion I can use the same instrumentality to kill this giant. David grew in strength and God anointed him king over his people and he was a man of war, he defeated all the nations God approved he should engage in war, died full of days and he was commended by God, a king who served God and attained the highest rank in the government of his days, Samuel on the other hand had a different experience, right from when he was weaned his mother returned him to Shiloh to learn and be modeled towards becoming what God has designed him to be, he learnt how to hear God at a tender age and to uprightly stand before God and until he became the priest proper.
The import of the narration above is to show the rising of two mighty men who lived and fulfilled purpose with different upbringing, different experiences and who followed different roads to success and purpose respectively.
I am not surprised that Solomon lived life according to what he knew and his early or childhood experiences, what do you expect from the son of a king? He only knew of affluence and merry making, and no doubt he did exactly what he knew until his father said “Solomon I know you are a wise man”.
It is very beautiful that people now understand the importance of mentorship and they are maximizing this gracious opportunity but I want to state categorically that not everyone is fit to disciple and mentor you, he might be fit but at the same time not proper to mentor you, no matter how successful he is or how much you admire him. You must share the same calling with him, since a politician cannot coach you into becoming a pastor so also a pastor cannot coach you into becoming a proper footballer, or engineer unless he has same experience, a mentor must know the calling of his mentee if he really want his student to learn and be successful to fulfill his purpose or else he will give a drug for stomach ache for a sprain, and we all know what will be the outcome. Basically, know your calling before attaching yourself to people for mentoring and coaching, or I will advise that people should be humble enough to say, I know your calling but for the purpose destiny I am not the proper person to take you there but I can show who can help if you don’t mind.
In this journey of discovering and achieving purpose, even in the church we must accept that all of us are not called to be pastors, apostles and prophets though by default in our homes and families we are for that purpose, and I have only heard of few occasions were God is calling one via our prophets today to be a law enforcement personnel like: Police, Vehicle Inspection Officer(VIO) Road Safety Corps, teacher or a politician and I don’t want to ask why just now yet, because, I know God from the beginning knew of the aforementioned fields of service.
Faculty of Law,
Ahmadu Bello University Zaria