I feel I would be committing some kind of malpractice if I left you with the idea that SOUL CARE is similar to SELF-HELP. It is not. There are tons of resources, books, videos, and gurus who will tell you that the way you begin to take care of your soul is to look within yourself. That all of your answers to purpose, identity, and meaning can be found if you just look “within”. The Bible tells us that this is absolutely the worst place to start any spiritual journey. Why? Because it is not about you.
Several years ago, Pastor Rick Warren (of Saddleback Church in California) wrote a bestselling book entitled THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. In it, he takes you on a 40-day spiritual journey with the goal of answering the question: What on earth am I here for?
Warren begins Chapter 1 of THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE powerfully explaining exactly why it cannot be about us:
“It’s not about you.
The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.
If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
On this Mindful Monday, we begin our conclusion of our series on SOUL CARE by pondering these concepts: purpose, identity, and meaning.
Today I want to share 3 REASONS WHY SOUL CARE IS NOT ABOUT YOU by looking at a famous heroine of the Bible: Queen Esther.
Here is a brief summary of this short book (only 10 chapters long) with the help of Jim George’s THE BARE BONES BIBLE HANDBOOK:
Esther is a Jewish orphan who, by God’s sovereignty, becomes queen of a vast Persian Empire. In the midst of a seemingly hopeless crisis, Queen Esther exerts her influence (at great peril to her personal safety) and saves her people from certain annihilation. It is an amazing story full of twists and turns, revenge, suspense, and drama. I encourage you to make time to read it this week.
Every good drama needs a villain, and in this story, it is Haman. Haman is the prime minister who is second in command to the king. Haman hates Mordecai, (Esther’s uncle who raised her) because Mordecai is a devout Jew who refuses to bow in reverence to Haman. This enrages Haman so much that he devises a plot to kill Mordecai and all of the Jews.
Are you still with me? Do you remember where Esther is at this point? YES, she is the queen. But do you also remember that she, too, is a Jew? Haman deceives the king by describing a “certain people”who need to die because of their rebellion and refusal to honor the king. The king, unknowingly, issues an edict to have all of the Jews put to death. Because Esther has never revealed her true Jewish identity, the king has unwittingly approved a plan to kill his own queen!
The plot thickens. Esther is at a crossroads: she is placed at the epicenter of the crisis and is forced to make a decision. Her uncle Mordecai sends her a strong message saying because of her position, she can help save her people:
“Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” Esther 3:13-14 (NLT)
What will Esther do? Is it about her? The king? Her people? God’s plan?
She is about to embark on a journey that may take her very life.
So she prepares. How? This is so very important. She sends word to her uncle Mordecai:
“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” Esther 3:15-16 (NLT)
The rest of the story is powerfully beautiful, ending with an elaborate feast (the Feast of Purim) which celebrates the preservation of the Jews, the death of Haman, and the appointment of Mordecai as the king’s new prime minister.
But what does this story have to do with soul care and spiritual journeys? Why is Esther such a great example of: “It’s not about you”?
Because she recognized it was not about her and allowed God to use her as part of His story.
Here is what the story of Queen Esther teaches about putting yourself aside to find true purpose, identity, and meaning:
1) You need to be aware of a greater PURPOSE beyond yourself.
Yes, you are part of a story and have a role to play, but you are not the star. God is…and it’s HIS STORY. Lose yourself in Him first and you will find your true self and purpose. Queen Esther knew that although God made her queen of a vast empire, it was still His story. She had to decide whether God put her there to only bless her life or if He had put her there “for such a time as this” so that she could be part of a bigger plan of delivering God’s people.
“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. Matthew 10:39 The Message (MSG)
2) You need to find your IDENTITY in God.
Not your career, your financial worth, your family or friends, your physical appearance, your intelligence, success, or happiness. These things cannot define you. You are God’s child, totally loved by Him, and created for something so much bigger and better than temporary, trivial things. You are His. Period. When Esther decided to go ahead and ask the king to save her people even if it meant death for her, she believed that her identity as God’s daughter superseded her identity as queen or even as a Jew. She placed her very life in God’s hands, knowing He would take care of her no matter what happened. That is the only way she could say with confidence, “If I die, I must die.”
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 The Message (MSG)
3) You need to make MEANING by getting involved with what God wants you to do.
Do you feel lost, empty, and unmotivated? Living for yourself will do that do you. Do you want to wake up each morning knowing that you can make a difference and fall asleep each night confident that you did? Get on board with what God is doing! He doesn’t need you to accomplish His plan, but He wants to use you and already has things planned for you to do. Remember Mordecai’s warning to Esther: “If you keep quiet, deliverance and relief will come from some other place.” You do not want to miss an opportunity to be used by God because He will accomplish His plans…with or without you.
“He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:10 The Message (MSG)
It’s not about you.
Maybe those words first caught your attention because they seem unfair, harsh, and untrue.
Hopefully, on this Mindful Monday, you will grasp both the truth and freedom that these words can bring, realizing God has so much more for you than you can dream or imagine!
Did you set some time aside this weekend to respond to the questions in your FREE SOUL CARE GUIDE? It is so crucial to begin any spiritual journey by assessing where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be. I am making this free download available for this week because I do not want anyone to miss out! Click here to download your free SOUL CARE GUIDE and get started if you have not already done so. We want you to join the journey!