Notes for Leaders

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Ask the group the questions in black.

Words in italics are written to help give some guidance and ideas.

Read out loud the text in blue.

Have someone read out the Scripture passages.

Introduction

If God guaranteed you an answer to any question, what question would you ask?

Gather thoughts. Ask why? This is not the time to answer those questions, but just to get people thinking.

People are curious about many things, but when it comes down to it, two of the most basic questions of life are: Who am I and why am I here?

Can you answer those questions with total confidence?

Who am I?

The question “Who am I” is a question of identity. Your identity is simply who you think you are.

When you think about your life, what influences have shaped your identity (who you think you are)?

This could be parents, teachers, sports coaches, pastors, friends, the world etc.

Share something about who you think you are.

Let people share at whatever level they are willing. Simply listen.

We all begin creating our sense of identity from birth, mainly based on our interactions with other people. The things we believe about ourselves can be both positive and negative.

So for now, we know that the “who am I” question is about identity. Over the coming weeks, we are going to explore this more.

Why am I Here?

The second question “Why am I here?” deals with our sense of purpose.

Think about things that people have created and their purpose? What comes to mind?

Share ideas. Choose any examples such as toasters, cars, lightbulbs, roads, houses etc.

Can you think of anything that has no purpose at all?

There is nothing that has been created that has no purpose. Things like space junk may seem to have no purpose now, but they did once have a purpose.

We have been created, so what is our purpose?

Gather thoughts. Ask, “what makes you think that?”

Does something that is created have the ability to determine its own purpose?

Use an example from above to pose the question. Can a toaster decide to be a jug instead?

Design

We can only come to a true sense of identity and purpose when we first understand our design. Think about a lion.

What is a lion designed to do?

To hunt animals. No healthy lion defies its design to become a vegetarian! It never happens.

What gives a lion the ability to be a hunter?

Its whole body is designed to hunt from tooth to claw. The lion’s identity as a hunter comes from its design.

In the same way, our sense of identity and purpose is connected to our design.

Do we begin life with an understanding of our design?

No, newborn babies have no knowledge or understanding of purpose or design.

How do babies learn about their physical design?

Babies and infants learn their physical design by watching people around them. In fact, studies have shown that if an infant does not hear someone talking, they will not learn to talk. If they do not see a person walking, they will not learn to walk.

The same is true spiritually. When we first begin to follow Jesus and are born again, we are like spiritual infants, and we learn our design by looking at people who we consider “spiritual.”

In our spiritual infancy, how can we be sure that the people around us are or were actually living in their spiritual design?

We really can’t be sure. Babies do not have the capacity to question their design. Because they are so vulnerable, there is a great responsibility to protect babies and nurture them in truth.

What if we have not truly learned our design? Imagine that you discover an object you’ve never seen before and you don’t know what it is designed to do.

How could you find out?

You would ask the person who made it!

Read these Bible verses together:

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Who is the Creator of the universe and of us?

God.

As our Creator, we owe our existence to God. We are not random products of chance. We have been wonderfully created by a God who has a clear design for our lives. And as our Creator, He alone holds the answers to those questions “who am I and why am I here?” The only way we can discover our design is to ask the One who designed us.

So, how does God reveal our design to us?

Gather thoughts.

Our Mirror

Look up the following passage in James.

James 1:22-24

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

What is the purpose of a mirror in the natural realm?

To see what you physically look like.

So, if you want to see a spiritual reflection of yourself, what is the spiritual mirror that you look into?

The word of God.

The Word is a spiritual mirror that shows us our natural face. The word “natural” used in this verse is the Greek word “genesis” meaning “source, origin or birth”. You could say that when we look into the mirror of the Word, we see our genesis face. We see our true identity and purpose as God originally designed it.

Summary

There are two questions we need to answer: Who am I? and Why am I here? These are questions of identity and purpose. Only our Creator has the right to determine who we are and why we are here, our design. So, over the coming studies, we are going to look into the mirror of the Word to find out how God answers these questions.

Questions for Further Discussion

Has there ever been a time in your life when you consciously asked yourself Who am I? or Why am I here?

Do you have any early memories of believing that God is Creator?

What do you think spiritual infants need most?

 

1 In the Beginning—Homework

Reflect

Read these verses from Psalm 139 and reflect on the questions below.

Psalm 139:13-14

For You formed my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You,

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

What do these verses reveal about the value of your life?

What does it mean for you to be a unique creation?

Is it important for you to know “who am I” and “why am I here?” Why or why not?

Do you spend time looking into the mirror of the Word? Is this a focus for you?

Pray

As you begin these studies, ask God to reveal your identity and your purpose/design in life to you in a fresh and deeper way. Share with Him your desires for your own spiritual growth.

Understand the Point of Ministry
We need to be clear about why we are doing what we are doing. At its essence, Christian life is about loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving others as ourselves. Therefore the goal of our ministry should be to call others to love God completely. To do this with any sense of authenticity, loving God with our absolute entirety needs to be our focus and goal. If we are given to loving God, we can be genuine in our call and ministry to others.

So we need to strive in ministry to be like Paul. He labored to betroth people to Jesus. His ministry propelled people into a deeper love of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians, Paul lamented that the people he had prepared for loving Christ were so quickly turning their affection and becoming dependant on other leaders. So as leaders, we need to realise that we are here to see people fall in love with Jesus. If people start to become our ministry groupies, if they start to idolize us or become dependant on us for spiritual guidance or support, then we risk taking the place of Jesus in their lives. Jesus is our everything. He is love untold, He is our joy and life. We are nothing apart from Him. So may it never be that we start to take His place in people’s lives. To protect against this, we need to continually push people back to Jesus. For the spiritually immature, a little more support is ok. Bottle feeding babies is fine, but people are not designed to stay spiritually babies for long. Our ministry should quickly grow spiritual babies into children and children into adults. And these adults should have one love in their spiritual life: Jesus.

Always Work from a Context of Reality
In this sense, we need to start with ourselves. There is no point in teaching theory without reality. So if we aren’t connected to Jesus in a real and living way, then we cannot really lead others into a deeper relationship with God. If we are called to lead, then we need to be living in reality, actively striving against religious pretence and false presentation of ourselves. We need to love God and be real about it.

Empower, Empower, Empower People.
A key aspect of a living relationship with Jesus is hearing His voice. If we are hearing His voice, we can easily be spiritually led by God. So, to start empowering others, we need to teach them how to hear God. We need to teach them how to love, how to enter His presence, how to encounter and commune with Him. Once they learn how to connect with Christ, then we need to keep encouraging people to gradually increase the time they spend in His presence, with the goal being that we would all learn to live continually in His presence, constantly communing with Christ in everything we do.

Ask More Questions Than Give Answers
To empower people, we need to teach them how to learn on their own. Our school and graduate institutions spoon-feed students and so people learn to simply ask questions and get answers. They don’t really expect to have to think for themselves, after all, why think when you can just ask?

So when people ask you a question, even if you know the answer, encourage people to seek out the answer for themselves. If they don’t know how to search out the word, then teach them (see this study for a short introduction to searching out the word). Initially people can be a little lazy when it comes to thinking, but this will fade as they find the thrill and life in searching out the word and discovering truth for themselves.

Go with the Seasons
Often if God establishes us in a particular ministry or group leadership position, the temptation can be to hold on to that position, or try to keep the group going forever. God works in seasons. People grow, life changes, the Spirit works then moves. So we need to keep in touch with the Spirit. Plant the seeds and move on. If we can keep in step with the Spirit, we will often find that the sweetest part of a season is the end. We know that we have completed the tasks given for the season, and we can enjoy the expectation of what God has for us next.

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