I don’t often take all my ideas from others for this blog (although no ideas are totally original), but when the thoughts come from a vibrant 101-year old man whose life radiates the love of Christ, it’s time to pay attention. Not only has he ministered with The Navigators for many years, but his personal experiences include being “on site” at the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
There’s little doubt that the search for fulfillment in life is common to all. We might not describe it in those specific terms, but we all want the sense that what we are doing is of worth, and more importantly, that we are of worth. One person writes, “Fulfillment is about living according to what’s fundamentally important to you and listening to what your heart says you really, really want to do… Fulfillment isn’t a destination; it’s a way of being in your life.”*
So what does Jim Downing at age 101 say is the secret of fulfillment? He succinctly describes the process with what he calls the Four D’s:
Discover your gift. Self-assessment is not reliable; ask those who know you best.
(If you are unsure of your gift(s), or if you haven’t honestly reviewed them for some time, stop here and take Jim’s advice!)
Dedicate your gift to a higher cause.
(No matter the activities that fill your day, no matter how you earn your living, what is the ‘higher cause’ to which you have dedicated your life? Be specific: what ‘higher cause’ activities are you currently involved with?)
Develop your gift. Be the best at what you do.
(What have you done this week in the development process? Have you read a book that contributes to the process? Are you in a study or fellowship group where your gifts are growing, or where others challenge as well as encourage you? A temptation for those of us growing older is satisfaction with ‘good enough.’)
Deploy your gift. Use your gift to help others.
(Jim’s military experience becomes visible in this word deploy: ‘to move [troops] into position for military action.’ What better description of the Christian’s call to action. Look for ways—perhaps new and challenging ways—to deploy your gift.)
The smile on Jim Downing’s face proves that he’s still in the business of discovery, dedication, development and deployment of his gifts. Not just for personal fulfillment (a beautiful side benefit), but so that what we pray becomes reality: “…Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”