Any NBA basketball fans out there? If you are a fan of the NBA, then you will know that Lebron James recently broke the all-time scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1984.1 It was a scoring record that most said would never be broken. Yet, Lebron broke it. How did Lebron manage to do something most said was impossible? His God-given ability to play the game of basketball is certainly a factor. However, this alone was not enough. Beyond his talent, Lebron was also on a mission. A mission to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time.
Now consider the tragic story of Jack Whittaker. In 2002, Jack was the lucky winner of the biggest lottery jackpot at the time, $314 million! Before winning the lottery, Jack was already wealthy, having run a successful construction business. He was also happily married and a respected member of his community and local church. However, in a matter of just a few years, his life fell apart due to alcoholism and other vices. He managed to squander all his money, his wife eventually left him, his house burned down and his granddaughter died of a drug overdose. At the end of his life, he expressed regret at having won the lottery.2
Ironically, this regret is common with many people who win the lottery. Why? Perhaps it is because the fame and fortune that comes with winning the lottery, did not also come with a purpose or mission. The lack of mission caused Jack Whittaker to spiral out of control, wreaking havoc on his once well-ordered, purposeful life.
While there are certainly many differences between Lebron James and Jack Whittaker, one key difference is mission or purpose. Having a specific mission in life is essential to creating a well-balanced, stable and joyful life. Let’s discuss this further from a Christian perspective.
In This Article:
- Every Christian’s Common Mission
- Setting a Healthy Boundary When Seeking Our Mission
- Signs of a Life Off Mission and Out of Balance
- Having a Mission Stabilizes All Facets of Life
Every Christian’s Common Mission
As Christians search for their specific mission in life, it is important to first establish our common mission as Christians. All Christians are called to love God with every fiber of their being and to love their fellow humans as much as they love themselves (Matthew 22:34-40). Therefore, whatever specific mission we feel led to must fall within these boundaries. In other words, no Christian should have as their life mission to bring shame to God’s name or to cause harm to humanity, God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:26).
Jesus summarized the benefits of following this common mission when he compared two builders at the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:24-26). Jesus said that the person who hears and obeys his commands is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. This person can handle life’s difficult times (including winning the lottery!) because their life is built on a solid foundation: the teachings of Jesus. In contrast, the person who does not put into practice Jesus’ teachings is like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Lacking the foundational, common mission that all Christians should have, this person’s life can become unbalanced and start to fall apart when life’s struggles come.
Setting a Healthy Boundary When Seeking Our Mission
Beyond our common mission, God has created each of us with unique skills and abilities. He has also gifted every Christian with a spiritual gift (see Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) that they are to use to glorify God and to bring others closer to Jesus. Our gifting, talents, skills and abilities are blessings from God. However, they can be abused if we begin to think too highly of ourselves (or too lowly). Maintaining a proper perspective is essential to staying on mission. Proverbs 30:7-9 is a helpful reminder to pray for balance constantly. It reads,
Two things I ask of you, LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”
These verses speak specifically about our finances, but they can be implied to all aspects of our life. We should be in constant prayer that God will provide us with our necessities and no more. In this way, we are less tempted to ignore God by thinking we can handle everything ourselves. The sin of “I can do things on my own,” is likely the reason for why Jack Whittaker’s life crumpled around him after he won the lottery.
Signs of a Life Off Mission and Out of Balance
One of the best ways to stay on mission is to be aware of the warning signs for a life that is off mission and thus imbalanced, unstable and lacking in joy. First, if a Christian is blatantly living in sin, their life will be out of balance. We must seek forgiveness for our sins and strive to obey God’s Word. Second, if you are currently working just to make a paycheck, you may also be out of balance. Making a paycheck to support yourself and your family is important, but work should be more than that. We were created to work and all work is a calling that God can use in meaningful ways. Finally, if you wake up every day bored, filled with apathy, and lacking any sense of excitement, then you probably are not doing what you were meant to do. Our mission should provide meaning, purpose and bring joy to our lives.
Having a Mission Stabilizes All Facets of Life
While each Christian will have their own specific mission with their own set of achievements, being on mission does tend to have common benefits. The main benefit is that it provides focus for your life so that all facets of your life (family, career, friendships, church service, hobbies, etc.) become stable and more than likely well-balanced. This in turn leads to a sense of joyful fulfillment. This is the deep-seated joy that we find within the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. A joy that exists even when one is faced with difficult circumstances.
Lebron James is an example of someone who is on mission, and Jack Whittaker is an example of someone who is not. Amazing achievements can be made when you are on the mission God has given you. These are eternal achievements, so they are even greater than setting the all-time scoring record in the NBA!
Want to learn how to focus on your mission? The theology and ministry programs offered by GCU’s College of Theology can provide you with Christ-centered instruction to guide you on your mission. Read more Theology Thursday and fill out the form on this page to learn more.
1 Grez, Matias. (2023). ‘As special as it gets’: LeBron James solidifies legendary status by becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. CNN.com. March 21, 2023.
2 Kaplan, Michael. (2020). Inside expensive downward spiral of the $315 million Powerball winner. New York Post. July 4, 2020.
Approved by the online faculty chair for the College of Theology on March 21, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.