Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Review - "S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life"

My amazing wife had the brilliant idea of combining some family time and service time this weekend. So we got on our helmets and went for a family bike ride over to church. There the kids got to hang out in the playground, mom got to hop on the riding mower and take care of the 'fields white for harvest', and I got to relax in the library and do some more reading :) (Going to Denny's after the bike ride back home and playing more with the kids was fun too.)

"S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life" is a book by Erik Rees, a Pastor at Saddleback Church who helps people discover their SHAPE for ministry. Our church (via a special "301 Discovering your SHAPE" class) and many others use the SHAPE approach: helping people understand their...

Spiritiual Gifts

Each of these aspects not only makes us who we are, but reveals what God has in store for us in ministry. I always think of Ephesians 2:10 when I think about SHAPE. I see now that this verse is listed right at the front of the book:
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)"
There were two things that made this book different and interesting, besides a nice explanation of each aspect of your SHAPE. First was the practical information for applying what you learn about your SHAPE. It talks about having a Training Partner and a Training Group if you're serious about understanding what God put you here for. The second was the chapter specifically on Kingdom Purpose - learning more about your unique assignment. He quoted from Olympic runner Eric Liddel (Chariots of Fire) - "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." Then he challenges us to consider this sentence:

God made me ______. And when I ________, I feel His pleasure.

The first blank, Erik would suggest, is our SHAPE. The second blank is our kingdom purpose. Being "called" to ministry is not something God has to beat you over the head with, not grab your attention to force you to do something you don't want to do. Rather that Kingdom Purpose is the very thing that God has created you to do and be, and you feel both God's pleasure and your own when you live a life that puts Him first.

He describes in practical terms how to explore this, and uses an acronym:
Get with God
Realize your Kingdom Dream
Activating your Serving Sweet Spot
Seek Wisdom
Plan your Test Drive

I think this issue of Kingdom Purpose is critical. I'm praying that it is something God will clarify for me. He made me 'a lot of things', and I feel like I'm making an impact for Him in a lot of (small) ways. The question is, which of those are merely 'good activities' instead of a God-sized dream that will transform lives. That is the purpose I'm trying to discover.

(For more info on the book, you can download a sample chapter, read excerpts from Google Books, or see reviews at Amazon. The end of the book also mentions a title due out in Spring 2008 by ZonderKidz - Only You Can Be You: Finding Your Serving Sweet Spot, by Erik Rees, which is written especially for children ages 8-12. He's also co-author on a book for teens "Congratulations! You're Gifted!")


Jason Curlee said...

This is a great book...I created a Saturday Conference for one of the churches I worked at last year that took people in our church through each point in S.H.A.P.E.

This is an awesome book and I would encourage every Christian to read it.

Larry Baxter said...

Jason - thanks for the feedback! We do something similar, using a '301' class in our Life Development Series on Discovering your SHAPE. One aspect I didn't mention is how your SHAPE shifts over time, or perhaps your recognition of it. So repeating a SHAPE assessment is not a bad idea at all, especially if you've been trying new things and growing.