“Joel, who are you writing to and what do they need?” Lisa asked. I didn’t have an answer for her then (concerning the book manuscript I’m currently working on); but — after a brief session of mulling it over and journaling — I think I’ve got it now. Here it is:
Question #1: Who am I writing this book for?
Answer #1: The Fatherless
Question #2: What do they need to hear?
Answer #2: Encouragement from someone who relates, a guide/mentor through it, healing, the ability to forgive, reconciliation (if possible), HOPE!, a Heavenly Father . . . I jotted down a few additional ideas as well in my journal.)
I’ve included this page from my journal for your viewing pleasure (below). Enjoy! That’s if, you can decipher my woebegone penmanship. (Smile.)
I’m truly thankful that I have more clarity on the current book I’m working on, but Lisa’s questions have also opened up a whole new range of potential clarity concerning my calling and purpose.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I always find myself thinking, “What is that “thing” I am meant to leave on earth before I leave earth?” I know there is a God-given gift that’s inside of me that has not gotten out of me yet or — more precisely — hasn’t found its full expression yet. I have this nagging impression that there is much more work to be done on a work that lasts beyond my lifetime. These thoughts haunt the halls of my intellect like restless ghosts.
If you’ll notice on the middle-left side of my journal page (above), I have circled the word “underdogs.” As I wrote this word -— “underdog” — a flurry of synaptic sparks fired off!
“Hmmm . . . underdogs?” I thought. “Is this who I am speaking to? Is this my audience?” I questioned. Thoughts raced around my head like electric currents and then a joyful thrill warmed my chest.
Yes, this is who I am speaking to, “underdogs.” Folks who weren’t born into privilege. People who have an obstacle or two to overcome — dark horses. This is my audience, my tribe. More introspectively, this is me. I’ve always been the late bloomer — the long shot — the underdog. Here’s some of the “underdog” obstacles I’ve faced:
- Raised by a single Mom
- Grew up poor, on welfare
- Abused by an alcoholic stepfather
- I was an obese-teen
- Struggled in school
Breakthroughs thus far:
- Married for thirteen years to my best friend, Casey
- Have two beautiful children
- My family has everything they need (not everything they’d want, but need (smile))
- A strong healthy body
- Graduated from University, Suma Cum Laude.
- Graduated from law school with a Juris Doctorate
- Bestselling author
- Have traveled to twenty nations and have spoken before more than two million people
I’ve always had to work incredibly hard to accomplish anything, but I’m optimistic enough to believe that if I work hard enough, by God’s grace, anything can be accomplished. So I’ve put in the work: Inch-by-inch its a cinch. Yard-by-yard it’s hard, right? I’ve made progress by inching along and never giving up — by grit, not privilege.
Here’s how these questions have helped me gain greater clarity concerning my calling and purpose:
Question #1: Who am I speaking to?
Answer: “Me” twenty-five years ago.
Question #2: What do they need?
Answer: Everything I wish I knew twenty-five years ago.
Thanks to Lisa Bevere and Divine serendipity, I’m a few steps closer to zeroing in on my calling and purpose than I was two weeks ago.
I think you’ll find yourself closer to your calling and purpose too, if you’ll take a few moments to ask yourself the following two questions:
Question #1: Who was I “back then” ?
Question #2: What do I know now, that I wish I knew back then?
Answering these questions will get you well on your way to clarifying your calling and purpose. Most often people’s past mess turns out to be their future message. The tests of one’s past turns out to be their future testimony.
I can’t wait to hear about what you discover when you take the time to answer these two very important questions. Feel free to comment below. Your story may encourage another dark horse to step out into their spotlight.
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