I couldn’t find my place as a real estate broker. I couldn’t make the grades as a pre-med student. I was put off by the idea of going to school to be some sort of junior executive. I was floundering. The interesting thing about all that is the solution was not something I engineered – even though I did pursue it. Let me explain.
I didn’t ask to be born. Most times people say that when they’re young and angry with their parents. It’s a cry of frustration from those who don’t like how life is going. It happens, also, to be true of all of us. As such a vitally important element of finding your sweet spot comes into focus.
The sweet spot is the place on the tennis racket which delivers the most controllable and powerful serve or volley. It’s the place on the bat that sends the ball into the grandstands. It’s the spot on the golf club that makes the pros look as though they’re barely swinging but the ball flies through the air in a beautiful arc.
Our life’s sweet spot is the place where our capabilities, and the core of our being combine with the context of life in sweet harmony and personal satisfaction. It’s where our core, competencies, and context align.
Most of us wrongly think that we have control over one or more of those three things. While to some extent we do have control, to a much greater extent we do not. I was not born in the upper Michigan peninsula to a family who lived off the land, without TV, electricity, or any other technologies we take for granted. If I was, it would be unlikely that I would have a love for technology of all kinds. On the other hand someone who lives in those conditions most likely would be lost if he or she were to try to navigate the urban jungle that is downtown Houston. Similarly the skills, abilities and talents would not easily transfer from one realm to another. It is also less likely that someone up there would wish to live down here, or vice versa.
I was born in a middle American small town to parents who were entrepreneurs, Baptists, and Republican. I didn’t choose any of those things, but they shaped me. Each of us is similarly shaped by forces and circumstances over which we have no control. We live in the 21st century: another circumstance that shapes our lives, potential, and challenges unique to this time.
Within those circumstances we have some choice. But our choices are often limited more than we might realize. That is why we sometimes have a difficult time finding our place and experiencing a sense of purpose. We fail to acknowledge the limitations of our circumstances – including the capabilities, and core of our being that play into a life of meaning and purpose.
The process of discovering these three, and examining how they intersect to become a personal life sweet spot is something through which Diane and I have led several times for pastors, spouses, ministry leaders, and dedicated lay leaders. It’s called Leadership From Within® and has been a significant aha moment especially for pastors and their wives.
The discovery for me was the context of a good friend, a newly-discovered faith, and a path forward on which I would discover newly unfolding capabilities that God was opening before me. It was made possible also by Diane who, when I first told her seriously that I wanted to be a pastor said, “I think you would be a good pastor.” Little did she know at that time what that would mean for her as well.
Thankfully we both embraced the most important core and context for living in the sweet spot of purpose and meaning: our identity as children of God, and understanding our purpose under Christ. Martin Luther put it this way:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true. – Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to the 2nd article of the Creed
Do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. – Romans 6:3-4