I want to take the lesson we learnt last week further by sharing some thoughts on what I believe are the five elements of our competence to do purpose. If you have not read last week’s post yet, I suggest you read it first here. I am convinced that by considering the following principles, we can become assured of our ability to deliver God’s purpose for our lives and fulfill our mandate on this side of eternity.
This is a universal human ability to identify with others in their not-too-good times and to commiserate with them when they go through difficult times. I believe this is an ability we all need to be able to competently solve problems in our environment. We have to be able to understand what others are going through in our own unique way and be moved to help them. We must learn to put others first and value above everything how people feel and perceive their own circumstances if we will move any close to helping them.
This is a step higher than sympathy. It is our ability to literally wear the shoes of other people and feel their pain where it hurts the most. Unlike sympathy which is a natural human response to pain, empathy flows from the commonality of experience. While we all would feel sympathy for a rape victim, a person who has been raped would feel closer to a rape victim than any of us. This is the power of empathy. I believe God raises men to do purpose in areas they are most able to empathize and not merely sympathize with others.
Like we noted last week, our experiences are not enough to qualify us as competent instructors. It is important that we have grown out of those experiences. The fact that I have masturbated for many years does not make me a competent sex therapist if I still masturbate. It is only a person who is out of the water that can save a drowning man. No matter how good our intentions are, if we have not recovered from a problem, we are not fit to brand ourselves as “saviours” for others who still suffer from that problem. The stories of your struggles are not enough to liberate others without the testimonies of your victory.
4. Practical Wisdom
Most of us know one teacher who knows so much yet lacks the ability to transfer that knowledge to others. Such a teacher certainly knows what it feels like to be ignorant, he has also outgrown that ignorance by acquiring the requisite knowledge. However, his competence to instruct is defective if he cannot now help others conquer their ignorance. To be competent to instruct, it is important that you are able to turn both the stories of your struggles and the testimonies of your victory into practical wisdom that others can profit from and this will require knowledge, skill and training.
J.G. McConville once remarked and I agree with him, that often, we may have to accept that the work which we would dearly like to perform in terms of Christian service is not that for which we are best equipped and not that to which God has in fact called us. The truth is, your experiences are great pointers to why you are here. However, your purpose goes beyond your experiences. Thus, while you may be deeply sympathetic and even empathetic about a problem from which you have recovered yourself, it is disastrous to go ahead in the pursuit of that vocation without a sense of divine calling to drive your passion and solidify your competence.
Blessed? Please let me hear your thoughts.
You matter to me always.