The picture above is a universally recognized picture of a goal keeper in a football game (only Americans call it soccer). The goalie has a couple of responsibilities – the primary one is to defend the goal and keep the other team from scoring. He is also a coach on the field calling out to his teammates to help them to be in the right position at the right time, particularly on a penalty kick.
The goalie is the only one on the field that can see the entire field of play and where all the players are. He wants them to be effective at what they are doing by placing them in the best position for that particular play. Just as the goalkeeper gets players in the right position,
it’s an easy transition from the soccer field to life where a mentor sits down with the next generation and helps them identify the best position for them to be in life.
One of the things that the millennials and next generation want to know is what their purpose in life is. One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Drucker who said: “There are two great moments in life: The first is WHEN you were born.
The second is when you learn WHY you were born.” In speaking to University Students in Cameroon, I quickly learned that they are passionate about trying to figure what direction they should take in life.
As evidence of how strong this theme is in our culture, Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. has sold over 32 million copies. It is the second most translated book behind only the Bible. By 2005, nearly a quarter of all Americans had read the book, and two-thirds of evangelicals. Amazing readership and influence in Christianity.
If you understand that Christian books rarely make best sellers lists, this anomaly obvious hit a nerve in culture. Like any book, it had its detractors, but by and large, the book was immensely popular. It famously begins with “It’s not about you.”
When I was in Limbe and Buea, Cameroon last year, I spoke to two groups of Christian University Students. My topic was a discussion of how to find your unique purpose. Most of the students were interested not just in what vocational field or job they were looking for but for a deeper sense of purpose – learning the “WHY” of what they did, as it were.
I only spoke for about 30 minutes, and covered two themes – one was helping them to develop their own personal mission and purpose statement as a Christian. It was more a guide for them to use to analyze and develop as they matured. Your specific purpose can change over time.
My life’s purpose recently changed – for 45 years, I practiced law, but when I retired, law was no longer my profession where I sought to make being a Christian lawyer not an oxymoron. My overall purpose did not change – which was to glorify God through serving others, but my platform of service changed from law to other things – currently helping MentorLink train pastors around the world to lead like Jesus, including written this blog.
The second part of the message was for the students to seek out a mentor to aid them in life as a sounding board of their goals in life – helping them develop their own purpose or vision statement. That’s why this is post is entitled “Goal Keeper” because a mentor’s role is to help the mentee determine his or her goal and purpose in life, and then help put them in the right position to attain that vision.
The first group of university students I met with had 58 students, and when I opened up the floor for questions, there were 58 hands in the air. I knew I had hit something they were really interested in.
Your occupation, job or profession, you see, is only one part of the puzzle. It provides a context in which you serve others, but is not, by itself, a defining purpose for the “Why” of your life. It took me a while to discover that. In fact, I came to faith late in life – I was 38 and had practiced law for 15 years. When I became a Christian, it was, to put it mildly, a game changer in my life. It rocked me to the foundations – as a husband, father, provider and as a lawyer.
All of a sudden, I discovered that being introduced to Jesus provided a spiritual dimension to my life that had been nonexistent until then. It changed my marriage – for the good, mind you – and was an overnight change of my values. Within 6 months, I joined a disciplined Bible study in Raleigh – Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) – which met during the school year.
By the second year in BSF, I was asked to lead one of the small groups of 15 men which was daunting for a total biblical neophyte. It was a crash course in scripture – something that I really needed at the time. I was like a sponge – I couldn’t get enough bible knowledge. I started wondering what my purpose was now that I had this spiritual dimension, and even toyed with going to seminary.
I struggled with my role as a lawyer, husband and father – thinking about how the long hours required were not good for my family. Oh, sure, it provided a comfortable living, but it didn’t seem to have a real purpose to me, or at least I couldn’t see one initially. My life up until then had really been like a railroad train – I just followed the rails wherever they took me. No end game.
During those questioning years, I encountered someone (I actually don’t remember who it was), who said that when you are looking forward to what God has in store for you, you should look back on where He has brought you up to that point to give you idea of your direction. Basically, look to the past to get an idea of your future. I realized that God had led me to that point in my life, although I hadn’t been aware of it or even thought of it in that way.
With some soul-searching, I decided that God wanted me to be a Christian in my vocation – to effectively grow where I was already planted. Vocation, by the way, comes from the latin and means divine call in the sense that you are called to your occupation . From that point on, I looked for ways to contribute to the Kingdom using the gifts, talents, expertise and passions that I had received.
Probably one of the biggest turning point in my spiritual maturity was connecting with a group of men who decided to join each other as a spiritual board of directors for each other. We were actually a peer mentor group, although that phrase was not used until years later. The weekly hour-long sessions – usually a lunch – provided me a grounding and deep relationships that have lasted until this day.
It’s this personal experience that has led me on my mission of discipleship through mentoring. I believe in it because it has shaped me in ways that no classroom or lecture could.
Over the years, I began to mentor other younger men – our future leaders. It has been one of the most satisfying activities that I’ve ever done, and continues to be to this day. My goal is to serve the Kingdom by challenging others to be the best they can be.
What that looks like depends on the individual, and there is no “one size fits all” approach. I take personal satisfaction for the role I have played in others’ lives – seeing them succeed and find their sweet spot in life is my reward.
My challenge is consistent and clear – you can be a Goal Keeper is someone else’s life. You have the experience and have a better view of the field of life than your mentee, and you can help them be in the right position for their vision. The next generation and the millennials are out there looking for you to put your hand up and offer to help. Don’t disappoint that divine appointment with someone you can be a positive influence on in helping them find their real purpose in life.
FURTHER STUDY: The Radical Mentoring website (www.radicalmentoring.org) has an excellent tool in their resources which is a free download entitled Finding Your Purpose by Regi Campbell. https://radicalmentoring.com/recommended-books/
WORSHIP: Join Matt Redman sing how he stands in awe of Jesus in Let My Words Be Few : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqIA_l2ypkE
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