God wants us to be the person he designed and made us to be. He wants you to be the person he designed and made you to be. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The word “workmanship” literally means “a unique work of art” indicating that each of us is a uniquely designed work of art by God of which there are no others like us. God designed a unique me, never to be repeated, and a unique you never to be repeated. We are one of a kind!
And in his creativity he wired and gifted us for a unique purpose that only we can fulfill, for we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God created me to lead the organization I lead. He created me to write books. He created me to be a husband of a wonderful woman and two wonderful boys. And he created me for a unique work in his kingdom that I am uniquely wired to fulfill and the same is true for every one of us no matter what our occupation or circumstance.
Finally you and I were created for relationship with Christ and in Christ we have the two desires of every heart: the desire for relationship (I experience that in Christ and His people); and a desire for significance (the unique work God created just for me for).
When I come to Christ and invite him into my life, the unique me that God created me to be does not change. I was hard wired with gifts of vision, strategy and communication. Everything else I was not hardwired for! In coming to Christ, he takes His creation and infuses it with His Holy Spirit empowering the wiring he gave me at birth, forgiving my sin and launches me on a journey that the New Testament calls sanctification – the life long journey of my lower and sinful nature being taken off piece by piece and His holy nature being put on, piece by piece. That journey of sanctification or spiritual transformation is not complete until we meet him face to face in heaven but it is an amazing and wonderful journey to be on.
Many people have the thinking that God wants to change our lives 180 degrees when we come to Him. That is a misunderstanding of God’s intentions. Many of our behaviors will change and need to change 180 degrees but God wants to take His unique creation and complete that creation which was marred by sin entering our world so many eons ago by helping us become the us He made us to be. The process of us realizing the full potential for which we were created is the process of spiritual transformation.
Many people fear the process of spiritual transformation and never embrace it, believing erroneously that it will cost them too much. This fear is the essence of our old sinful nature that craved autonomy. The prophet Isaiah put that autonomy from God this way: “We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Autonomy from God leads away from God and toward our shadow side. Engaging with God in ongoing life transformation leads us toward His life and character – and His impact on others.
Many others simply do not pay enough attention to this aspect of their lives and end up living at a shallow spiritual level (even many in ministry) substituting activity for true life change. It is a trap that prevents many from realizing their full potential or having the kind of deep influence God designed them for. Shallow spiritual lives lead to shallow influence even if masked by impressive achievements. There simply is no substitute for going deep with Christ!
Christ’s vision for our life is very simple: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). There is a direct connection here between the transforming of our lives, the renewing of our minds and our ability to understand “God’s good, pleasing and perfect will!” The ongoing transformation of our lives as a life priority is directly connected with the influence we have and is a prerequisite for being a person of deep influence.
One of the temptations for ministry leaders who live and work in full time vocational ministry is to substitute work for God (our ministry) for the work of God in our hearts and lives. Not only does this substitution hurt the individual involved as they do not become all that God designed them to be but it hurts those that they influence as their model is one of doing rather than one of becoming. This has led to countless Christ followers who have spent their lives focusing on either doing or modifying behaviors to meet the standards of their church or leader without significant transformation of the deepest core of their lives.
It is a matter of priority. If my priority is that of seeing authentic spiritual transformation take place in my life, I will bring all of life under His lordship and will engage in His business and will modify my life in many areas to bring it into alignment with His. But if I focus instead on doing things for Him and modifying my behaviors rather than that of spiritual transformation I will end up frustrated and with a substitute transformation that is more about me than about Him. Too many Christ followers have settled for the latter rather than committing to the former. The first brings real life change while the latter is often little more than legalism. One ministry I work with actually has a guiding principle called “Intimacy before Impact” to remind themselves of the proper priority!