“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10b
Before believing in Christ for salvation, the Bible tells us, “we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephes. 2:3). Before we were saved by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephes. 2:8-9), we lived according to our own sinful desires. We did what pleased us.
But when we came to Christ in faith, we began to live according to God’s plan. How can we discover His plan for our lives? The Bible says, “We are … created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We were not saved to simply sit on a couch to watch TV or play video games. We were saved to do “good works.” Notice that good works follow our salvation, they are not necessary for our salvation.
How do I know what good works God wants me to do? This verse tells us that “God prepared beforehand” our good works “so that we should walk in them” (2:10b). Pastor Rick Warren has produced a very helpful tool to help Christians discern the “good works” or ministry God has prepared them to do using the acrostic S.H.A.P.E.
S – Spiritual gifts. Ask yourself, “How has God gifted me spiritually?” You may have a speaking gift such as teaching or evangelism. You may have a serving gift such as helps or leading. The good works God has designed you to do should include the use of your spiritual gifts. For years I served in pastoral ministry which made it difficult to use my primary spiritual gift of evangelism. But when I began to serve in an evangelistic ministry, I became more fruitful and fulfilled because I was doing what God shaped me to do.
H – Heart. Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” My wife is excited about making jewelry for others out of beads. She can do that all day without getting bored or tired. I, on the other hand, am passionate about sharing the gospel with others. I get recharged doing this. If we serve in a ministry for which we have no passion, we will lack motivation and fulfillment.
A – Ability. Ask yourself, “What natural talents has God given me?” May be you are a gifted musician, singer, or writer. Perhaps you are gifted in working with computers, cars, or machinery. You may be very gifted in relating to children, teenagers, or the elderly. Pay attention to your natural talents when participating in a ministry.
P – Personality. Ask yourself, “What kind of personality has God given me?” Are you an introvert or extrovert? A free online tool to help identify your personality is found at www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test. Ignoring the personality God has given us when considering a ministry, can lead to much frustration and stress.
E – Experiences. Ask yourself, “What kind of experiences have I had?” God will use good and bad experiences to equip us for ministry. For example, if you were abused as a child, God can use that experience to comfort others who have been through something similar. On the other hand, if you have experienced success in the business world, God can use that to minister to others in a business. God does not waste our experiences.
When we identify our God-given S.H.A.P.E., God can use that to place us in a ministry where we will be more fulfilled and fruitful, and God will receive more glory. God wants us to walk in the good works that He has shaped us to do. When we do, our lives will never be the same.
Prayer: Gracious heavenly Father, I no longer want to live according to my sinful desires, but according to Your plan for my life. Thank You for helping me identify my God-given S.H.A.P.E. so that I can find a ministry that You have designed for me that brings You the most glory and enables me to be fruitful and fulfilled. In Jesus’ name. Amen.