I recently attended my nephew’s preschool graduation. I didn’t know these were a thing. As it turns out, I’m a big fan.
Donning a blue button-down punctuated by a bow tie, my nephew sauntered in, all smiles, to the classroom with his classmates — everyone decked in oversized graduation caps.
I tried not to tear up as the pint-sized preschoolers performed a few songs for their adoring parents. An entertainer at heart, my nephew knew all the words and motions — acting unafraid, uninhibited.
Next, the teachers spoke about the special day and all the memories they’ve made, the speech complete with a nod to Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”
One teacher recited:
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go…
As the mini-grads received their diplomas, they announced what they wanted to be when they grow up. I loved their responses:
Ninja. Doctor. Motorcycle driver. Mermaid. Firefighter.
And my nephew’s response: police officer. (He adores his uncle, who works in law enforcement.)
You know what they didn’t say? “No idea dude.” Or, “Ummm, lemme think about that and get back to you.”
The soon-to-be kindergartners didn’t ask their teachers or parents to weigh in. They answered the question from the heart, based on what they love, what interests them.
It’s refreshing to be around little ones. They are completely themselves. They aren’t afraid to name what they want.
But something happens as we grow up. We tend to forget what we love and, worse, who we are. Our innate desires, gifts, and God-given dreams often dissolve as we try to fit in, follow a “practical” track, and live up to others’ expectations.
What’s more: We attach our identity to what we do instead of Who we belong to.
The result? We settle. Think small. Get comfortable — complacent, even. Sink into the world’s rhythms. Start to live for the weekends. Follow whims.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)
If we’re not on guard, the devil can lull us into small, smug living.
A couple years ago, I noticed this line written in a co-worker’s birthday card, now burned in the back of my mind:
Just another year closer to retirement.
What a sad sentence. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing bad about looking forward to retirement. Retirement is a blessing. But I don’t want to live my life waiting for it.
There has to be more here, now. Deep down, we know there is more. Through Jesus, we have eternal life. But what about here and now? Jesus said that he came to give us a rich and satisfying life.
Who doesn’t want an abundant life? However, the path to get there is contrary to what we think. Instead of conforming to the world and living to please the flesh, Jesus asks us to carry our cross and follow him.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
This is a challenging call. Giving up my life. Dying to myself. But when I come to the end of myself, surrendering my own motives and plans, that’s when God moves in to do his best work. When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
I just finished reading “Without Rival” by Lisa Bevere. (Spoiler alert, it’s one of the books on my free guide: 6 Books to Help You Pursue Life on Purpose. Get the guide here.)
Referring to Matthew 16:26, she writes:
“Knowing who you are is vastly more important than knowing where you are going or even what you can do. Because he is your Creator, God has quite a bit to say to you about who you are. And who you truly are carries within it the revelation of what you could be.”
If you’re feeling lost and searching for your purpose, your calling, your identity, even your next job, then first ground your identity in this truth: You are a child of God.
Say it out loud. “I am a Child of God.” There’s power in this proclamation.
“Because there is no one like our God, there is no greater way to bring out what is unique in you than to pursue him,” Bevere writes.
God wants to work wonders through you. He offers an abundant life filled with his presence and an eternal life beyond what our brains can begin to fathom.
Dr. Seuss can spin some silly rhymes. And he’s right, you can steer yourself any direction you choose. But I much prefer Proverbs:
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Maybe it’s time to tap into your inner preschooler and let yourself dream about the promise and potential on your life. You have a bright future, no matter your age.
Ask your heavenly Father not what he wants you to be but who you already are. And then walk with him as your guide, going places only he can take you.
Remember, my friend: We’re not living for retirement … for the weekend … for ourselves.
We’re living for eternity.
An author I admire does this thing called adoration. Head over to her website to see this month’s printable, which includes a verse for every day that will teach you who God is. The idea is to take our eyes off ourselves, look up, and watch him transform our hearts (and lives) through his word.
Now I want to hear from you: What do you want to be when you grow up? Share in the comments!