IMG_0695The small group that I lead with my friends, Cope and Lauryn, met for the first time this weekend. I gave the lesson this week about finding my purpose in life. I have included the discussion questions used in the group and would love to hear from you if you have something to share.

I have always been conscious of the fact that I was put on this Earth for a purpose. Several years ago, I thought I had found that purpose when I began coaching CrossFit and helping others be “Better Than Yesterday.” This has always been very rewarding to me. I thrived (and still do!) at helping to unleash the hidden athlete in each of us. But as I got older, I felt like something was missing. I felt like there must be something bigger out there for me.

The first time I went to Church of the Highlands, the sermon happened to be on finding your purpose. Perhaps this is what intrigued me about this church… because I was very intrigued with finding my purpose. I later learned that finding your purpose is one of the four stated missions of the COTH. First, know God. Next, find freedom. Then, discover your purpose. And finally, make a difference. Who doesn’t want that?

As can be the case when we focus on religion instead of our relationship with God, I went through this period of Christian guilt. Here I had been thinking my role as a CrossFit coach was my higher calling, but was I really making a difference? I had invested so much time and energy into this, but wasn’t I just “blessing the bless?”

“Anyone who could afford my gym is already blessed,” I thought. “I am not really doing anything to help make this world a better place.”

Because in all honesty, I had visions of grandeur. I thought finding your purpose and making a difference meant doing something HUGE. Selling everything and becoming a missionary! Adopting children from a third world country! Beginning a charity that raises millions of dollars to find a cure for whatever disease! Certainly, I was meant for greatness, right?!

And then I had an epiphany just last weekend while out for a run. My friend had raised over $2,600 for charity: water, an organization where 100% of donations go to provide clean water to people who don’t have access to it. She had heard about it on a Rob Bell podcast, and I wanted to listen to it. But somehow, I accidentally played the wrong podcast without knowing it.

As I kept waiting for the interview with the founder of charity: water, Rob told a story about when he was a pastor in the early ‘90s and had pot luck dinners for his youth group and their friends. Just recently at a talk he was giving, a woman came up to him and said she had attended his pot luck dinners as a teen. Her experience at these dinners led her to become a priest.

“You have no idea what the next right thing for you might unleash in someone close to you,” Rob said.

This really spoke to me as I thought about my role as a CrossFit coach and gym owner. I thought about one of our former members who came to our gym overweight and not very happy. He is now climbing mountains, going mountain biking, and doing research in the Antarctica. Another athlete came to us disabled and in a wheelchair. She is now living in an apartment on her own, has a job, and is learning to drive a handicap accessible van. Now, I am not implying by any means that I am the reason these two people are living the lives they now have. But I am saying that what we have created at our gym has been a springboard for improving the quality of life for others. That’s pretty big.

“You as a human being- you carry this divine spark,” Rob said in his podcast.

Now this really got me thinking.

What if I took this concept we have at our gym- a concept we believe in so much it is emblazoned across our wall, “Better Than Yesterday”- and applied it outside the gym? What if my purpose in life is simply to make other’s lives “Better Than Yesterday,” not just those who come to my gym? This doesn’t require anything major.

This could simply be holding the door open for someone or even just giving a smile. This could be speaking to the over-talkative deli lady at Publix. This could be anonymously buying $5 gift cards for the table of girls studying in the coffee shop. This could be raising money for a family adopting two 16-year-olds from the Ukraine who literally only have one pair of underwear each. This could be making hygiene packs for the Syrian refugees displaced from their homes.

My name will never be in lights. And I won’t be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon. But I can make someone’s life a little better in any given moment. And then that person may do the same for someone else. And so on. And so on. It’s kind of like that Liberty Mutual “Pay It Forward” commercial.

And you know what I decided this is?

This is the Holy Spirit living within me. This is the divine spark Rob spoke of. This is purpose and this is making a difference.


Have you found your purpose in life, and if so, how did you discover it?

I love the New Living Translation of 1 Peter 4:10- “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” The COTH has a test you can take to reveal your spiritual gifts. My top three gifts were leadership, organization, and surprisingly, compassion. Finding out that compassion was one of my spiritual gifts made me look at myself in a different way and really changed the way I interacted with others. Has anyone else taken a test that revealed his gifts and been surprised by the results?

Are you using your gifts to serve others? I thought I needed this GREAT humanitarian purpose in life that would cause me to “get in the trenches,” as I call it. I discovered that at least for now, I am not really comfortable “getting in the trenches” to help others (but I hope I will be one day!). But what I can do is organize making hygiene packs for Syrian refugees or calling on friends to donate to a cause. I can still use my gifts to make a difference and serve others in a way that I am comfortable to do so.

“You have no idea what the next right thing for you might unleash in someone close to you,” Rob Bell said. Does anyone have a story where you ended up positively changing someone else’s life with your actions?




2 thoughts on “Purpose.

  1. Shelby, I am so proud and overwhelmed by you. You have certainly helped people by providing the gym to change their lives for the better. I am also envious of you, that you recognized the “calling”, and responded to it. You have done great things, but nothing like I feel sure, you are going to do. God bless you and all your endeavors.


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