When Purpose Collides with Courage

Photo Credit: Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

The alarm goes off. I pass through the living room and trip over one of three junior size footballs on the floor. It turns over itself and like a slightly less fit version of Abby Wambach, I kick it out of the way. I’m acutely aware now of other potential threats, nerf bullets, balled up socks and what used to be the most serious threat, Legos, is slightly less threatening than a iPad charger standing with the plug in facing up…the worst! Don’t step on those. I stumble to the kitchen and fumble for the lights. I start the coffee…dang it. I realize I forgot to set up the coffee the night before. I try to be as quiet as possible as I grind the coffee beans. I have a fleeting thought about how high maintenance I am that I need fresh ground coffee every morning. The thought immediately passes as it does every morning. I recommit to setting SMART goals, stepping away from fresh ground beans is neither achievable or relevant. I make my way back to the bathroom and start a hot shower. I wake up my kids. They’ve reached a new stage of life where they get themselves showered and dressed. I pat myself on the back. We’ve come so far; Mike and I are such good parents. They immediately push back on the teeth brushing. I take back that last statement. Alas, we have some work to do. I remind them to brush for the seventeen hundredth time. I pray for them and send them off. I realize it’s already 7:30 and I jump into work. Before five minutes pass, I’m engrossed in the work of the day. I run back-to-back meetings. I lead my team. I try to sneak away for a quick bite to eat, whatever is fast and already made. It’s likely a hodgepodge of leftovers if I’m lucky. If I’m not so lucky, fried eggs and random chip crumbs left in the bottom of the bag. I recommit to healthier eating after I pour the chip crumbs into my mouth like some sort of chip commercial model. The workday comes to an official close but it’s still on my mind. I do the best I can to transition my brain and my body to my family. I race one or two children to some sort of activity. We rush home. I start the dinner and serve it. If I’m feeling motivated, I engage my kids in a game. If I’m not feeling motivated (which is most days), I let them watch a show. If I’ve lost all the will to parent, YouTube. I put them to bed. Mike and I turn on the TV and I doze on and off as I watch the Netflix show we’re currently into. At 11PM, Mike gets me up off the couch and ushers me to bed. The day comes to a close, sound familiar?

How many days in the last seven have you gone through the motions? Has a full 24 hours gone by when you’ve never engaged your purpose or even thought about it? It has happened to me, more often than I care to admit. It happened on a regular basis. There were many days I was just going through the motions. I think because I’m in a time of transition, this is on my mind more than ever. How do stay obedient to God in living out my purpose on a daily basis?

What if you’re one of those people that never identified your purpose? Sometimes people don’t even know that they have permission to live a purpose driven life. Sometimes we don’t believe we’re worthy of a purpose driven life. Totally false. God has a purpose for you and a purpose for me. It scares the crap out of me sometimes.

If you’re still with me and you’re wondering what your purpose is, I want you to hear from me that you have permission to start figuring that out. You are on this planet on purpose. Girl, you have amazing gifts to share. I can’t wait to hear what they are and how you can share them with the world. People need your gifts. People need exactly who you were created to be. Here are some quick ways you can start brainstorming what your purpose is:

  • Spend time thinking about what breaks your heart.
  • What are the things/ideas/problems that inspire action, passion, or fear?
  • Engage with leaders who do work in this space. For me, I’ve hired a consultant who helped me identify my purpose and narrow down my values.
  • Pray that God would help you uncover your purpose.

My purpose has evolved over the years a bit but it has stayed steady over the last few years.

To encourage women in knowing, embracing and stewarding their unique gifts in order to fully step into their purpose, to be exactly who they were made to be at home, in business and in community.”

Living out my purpose is the primary reason I’ve started this writing and speaking project. God planted the seeds to serve women deep in my heart and soul. It brings me to tears to see women leaning into their God Given gifts and doing excellent work. The work they were literally created to do. For some that’s raising their children. For others it is running a business. For others, it is helping a company live out its mission. For others, it’s becoming the first female president of the United States of America. Please, if that’s your purpose, step forward lady!!!

It also brings me to tears to see a woman who doesn’t know what her unique gifts and abilities even are. If you don’t know what they are, how can you embrace those gifts and steward them? It’s not that those gifts don’t exist. They exist and they are so dang beautiful. They are just waiting to be pulled to the surface. You have so much to offer this world.

So what are your gifts, what is your calling? These gifts are often things that not only come easy to you (which isn’t to say that these gifts don’t need to be stewarded) but they are also things you likely enjoy doing. There is a local leader and author named Richard Leider that created an interactive tool called Calling Cards (you can find them on Amazon if you search for “Calling Cards: Uncover Your Calling”). It’s an exercise I’ve revisited over the years to really reflect on my unique gifts and what I really enjoy doing. In the season I’m currently in, I recently pulled them back out. My personal gifts that surface to the top are below. I share them because there is power in knowing and claiming your gifts. I believe God can best work through you to love people when you are working within those gifts.

  • Leadership
  • Communication and Writing
  • Speaking to Influence
  • Resolving Conflict
  • Adding Humor

So, let’s bring this back to where we started. What happens when your purpose and gifts collide with courage? I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to write down that question and think about it. What would happen? What comes to your mind? If I’m being as honest, this questions totally freaks me out. When I start brainstorming what this could look like for me, God really stretched my thinking. I actually really get nervous because the result of that question would stretch me in ways I haven’t been stretched in a really long time. It’s exciting and also super scary. Part of the reason I’m even writing this post is to provide some personal accountability for myself through all of you to step out in courage. I’m not at point of arrival yet, not by a long shot. It’s not easy to trust God and let your purpose collide with courage. But in stepping out in courage, maybe God will use us in a way that’s way bigger than we ever imagined. Maybe in ways that totally crush our safe and secure bubble that we’re so comfortable in. No matter what, when we allow our purpose to collide with courage at the very least:

  • You serve people the way God intended you to serve.
  • Your confidence grows.
  • The results of your work are extraordinary from a kingdom perspective.
  • You inspire and empower others to do the same.
  • You start a movement in yourself to do hard things.

But I’ve also seen those that have gone before me to extraordinary things, they’ve literally changed the course of history. They weren’t always women of influence. They weren’t the most educated. They didn’t always have significant resources. They weren’t at the peak of their career. They had a God Given purpose and stepped forward in courage. Here are a few specific women in history who gave us a path to follow. Of course this is not an exhaustive list but just the ones that immediately came to mind:

  • Esther: a young Jewish queen who comes into new influence and uses that influence to save the Jewish people from exile. Esther 4:14 “Who knows if you were born for such a time as this?” You guys know that Esther is my home-girl.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Was one of only a few women at her time to go to law school. She broke legal ground that led to equality for women and underrepresented people for generations to come. #notoriousRBG
  • Rosa Parks: Sparked a movement when she stood firm in her humanity as a proud black woman deserving a seat on a bus.
  • Harriet Tubman: led hundreds of slaves to freedom through the underground railroad. She followed her purpose to save lives.
  • Oprah: Now one of the most powerful woman in the world, inspiring women globally but stepped out in courage when there was no one that looked like her in her field of work. #yougetacar
  • Malala Yousafzai: the youngest Noble Peace Prize winner for supporting education for girls in Pakistan. #dropthemic
  • Greta Thunberg: a Swedish environmental activist who started her work at age 15. She’s known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation. BTW, she’s only 4 foot 11 inches. #smallbutmighty

I’m sure not all of these women had a goal to change the world. But they had a purpose. They changed the world when their purpose collided with their courage. Maybe changing the world for you is one person at a time. Maybe you change the course of history. But you’ll never know if you don’t start figuring out what your purpose is and step fully into it. I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m telling myself this as I write these words to you because I’m going through the internal stress of trusting God to step fully into who I was created to be. We’ll never know if we continue to walk through the monotonous motions of the day without engaging the exact person we were made to be. Trust me, it is scary to think about what it might mean to live out your purpose. It is scary to think about what people will say, what roadblocks we’ll encounter, what it will mean financially etc. But courageously pursuing your purpose does not mean it’s not scary. It means you move forward with pursuing and activating your purpose even when fear is staring you in the face. I love this definition of courage, “showing courage is not facing situations without fear, it is facing them despite fear.”

People are waiting for you right now to activate your purpose. Your family, your community, your workplace, the world is waiting for you, yes, you! Yes, me! My encouragement to us today is threefold.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

  • If you don’t feel called to a specific purpose or if you haven’t given yourself permission to think about it, take time to think through, pray about and brainstorm. When you get something, write it down, read it often, refine it, pray about it, pray over it and share it with people.
  • Take time to think through your God Given Gifts. Do the Calling Card exercise. How can you use them in the best possible way?
  • Share back with a friend or a community. I’d love it if you share back with me. I’d love to hear from you. I’ve even thought about pulling together a group of people that are in this same phase of colliding their purpose with courage.

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you to move forward in discovering her gifts or purpose? Who can you support this week in their purpose or dream? Have you successfully walked through a season that others are struggling through? If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Published by encourageherelena

My name is Elena and I'm the Chief Encourager at Encourage Her Elena. Encouraging Women in business, at home and in community is my passion. I'm an author, speaker, and coach. After almost twenty years in Financial Services (the ultimate male dominated industry), I realized that women need to hear another voice. They need to hear their own voice and step into exactly who they were made to be.

4 thoughts on “When Purpose Collides with Courage

  1. Great job E! My only argument here is that legos are definitely worse than a charger😂 (legos don’t bend!)

  2. Amazing Elena! I’m spreading the word. Purpose can be very different for all people but you have hit the nail on the head. Don’t wait for your life to slow down to start your purpose. You’ll be waiting forever. Move forward and you will find more joy than you can imagine.

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