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The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren—A Synopsis (continued).

Chapter 32—Using What God Gave You (pages 249-256)


God deserves the very best from every one of His children, and this can only be accomplished if the child of God serves God out of his S-H-A-P-E (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences). To serve God apart from one’s “shape” is unnatural and will feel uncomfortable and stressful.

In order to properly assess one’s S-H-A-P-E, a Christian should do the following:

· Reflect upon his strengths and weaknesses (self-evaluation & introspection).

· Inquire of others (their advice and observations).

· Start serving first.

It is very important to just start serving. Only then will a believer discover what he is really good at, i.e., his gifts and abilities. The Christian should volunteer in every possible area of service in order to become completely familiar with the talents and temperament God has given him.

Once a believer learns his talents and equipment, he should understand that this was determined by a sovereign God. With this understanding the believer is not to resent, reject or take for granted these God-given gifts and abilities; he should accept and enjoy them. A vital part of truly enjoying one’s capabilities is to recognize and accept one’s limitations—to realize one’s defined role and that no one is called to be everything.

It is also important to avoid two traps of Satan, that of (1) comparing one’s ministry with the ministry of others and (2) conforming one’s ministry to the expectations of others. The dangers in comparing are (1) becoming depressed when one discovers someone who is more talented and effective in ministry and (2) becoming proud when one discovers someone who is less able to minister. The Christian must be what God has determined, a one-of-a-kind with a specific and unique ministry. Follow Paul’s template, which is to “avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation.”

If a believer is effective in service to God, he can count on the fact that he will be criticized. He must ignore such judgments and seize upon every opportunity to develop his S-H-A-P-E and sharpen his serving skills. In doing this, he is accomplishing the best preparation for his eventual eternal home.


“The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape.” (pg. 249)

“Many books get the discovery process backwards. They say, ‘Discover your spiritual gift and then you’ll know what ministry you’re supposed to have.’ It actually works the exact opposite way. Just start serving, experimenting with different ministries, and then you’ll discover your gifts.” (pg. 251)

“Part of accepting your shape is recognizing your limitations.” (pg. 253)

“Don’t be envious of the runner in the lane next to you; just focus on finishing your race.” (pg. 253)

“Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation.” (pg. 254)

“If you don’t exercise your muscles, they weaken and atrophy. In the same way, if you don’t utilize the abilities and skills God has given you, you will lose them.” (pg. 255)

“Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through practice.” (pg. 255)

“Take advantage of every training opportunity to develop your shape and sharpen you serving skill.” (pg. 255)


Romans 12:5; Ephesians 5:17; Romans 12:3b; Galatians 6:4b; Deuteronomy 11:2; Galatians 3:4; John 13:7; Romans 9:20, 21; Ephesians 4:7; Galatians 2:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 12:1; Galatians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 10:12; Philippians 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:6; Matthew 25:28; 1 Timothy 4:14, 15; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 9:25.


It is important for a Christian to conform to his S-H-A-P-E in order to be fulfilled and fruitful in His service to God. Because every believer has a different “shape,” every Christian performs a different aspect of God’s overall ministry. The Christian must learn what makes him uniquely qualified for his ministry to God through self-evaluation, learning from others and through service. It is then his responsibility to be content with the way God has made and equipped him for service, making certain that he doesn’t compare himself to others or conform himself to the expectations of others.