One of the things that is on my bucket list is to raise and train service dogs. I have always found it so fascinating to watch these animals work. They have such a servant’s heart; and show such discipline to override their own natural desires to chase a squirrel or bark at something that frightens them so they can continue to serve their companion. One thing I have learned from watching @FosteringPuppies, a Puppy Raiser for Canine Companions for Independence is that the puppies that make it into the program and the dogs that actually graduate from the program are very unique in that their purpose in life is to do this work. They have been specifically designed with the personality, temperament, and ability to do the work physically and mentally of a service dog – just like you have been specifically designed to fulfill your purpose in life!
As Ashley shares the training journey of her and Phil, her current Canine Companion puppy, it touched me how this sweet puppy has a purpose in life that he could NEVER fulfill without the nurturing, teaching, and correction of others. As a puppy, he has Ashley as his main handler, teaching him how to behave, watch for instruction, and navigate the world. He has been part of puppy exchanges which allows him to experience different Puppy Raisers and situations. Once he has gained the basic necessary “life” skills, he will move into the next phase of training to learn specialized skills so he can fully perform his duties as a service dog – moving into his life’s purpose!
So, let me ask you – are you seeking the guidance and training necessary for you to fulfill your purpose in life?
In applying this lesson to our own life, what are you doing to receive the training you need to turn your potential into reality? As the Bible tells us, each one of us is God’s workmanship, designed for a specific purpose. It is time we each develop ourselves in the gifts and abilities God has placed in each one of us to not only be who we were created to be, but to also give God glory and assist in building His Kingdom!
1. Understand your purpose
Do you know what you were designed to do? Some people are very creative while others are very analytical. Some people are very open and outgoing while others are more quiet and reserved. The truth is, we are all designed to be a part of the bigger plan! And one person’s calling or purpose is no more important than any other. For example, in the case of Phil, his Puppy Raiser is just as important in his Specialized Trainers. The people assigned to teach the person Phil will be place with how to interact with a service dog, is just as important to Phil’s overall success. This is a true team that has been assembled to support Phil in his life’s calling!
If you don’t already know your purpose – or at least your calling for right now, spend some time asking God to show you His purpose for your life. Are you a teacher? An encourager? A prophet? Then ask how does He want you to deliver your gifts. Through writing? Through teaching to many or teaching to one? Traditional means or some unique and radical method?
2. Figure out what you don’t know
Once you gain an understanding of what you should be doing and how you should be doing it, now you need to ask, “What do I need to know that I don’t know?” It can be a silly question, “Tell me what I don’t know?” but once you start to realize where you lack knowledge or wisdom, you can ask! Once begin to gain that wisdom, then you can move forward! If you are called to write, but don’t know where to start, reach out for help! If you hear God telling you to do videos but don’t know how, ask God to connect you with someone who will teach you. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos. Expand your mind!
3. Be humble. Be willing to try. Be willing to learn.
One thing I can promise you is that your first interview, your first video, or your first blog post won’t be your best; but it is a step in the right direction. Give what you have learned a try…and then ask for feedback! Taking instruction and constructive criticism isn’t always easy – but it is how we get better. I love the transparency that Ashley shared about one of puppies she was helping to train. This dog had a hard time staying quiet and settled while she was in class. (She is a college student!) She even mentioned at one point she had to leave class because the puppy was being so disruptive. She worked with him and tried it again and saw great improvement…not perfection but improvement. As you are learning and growing to step into your purpose be humble to learn when you fall short, and try again. Praise the improvements and strive for bigger accomplishments – that is the learning process!
As you step through this process, remember to keep all of this bathed in prayer and covered in love – for God, yourself, and others. Remember that God’s mercies are new every morning and all of heaven is cheering you on! Surround yourself with a team that has the knowledge, love, and encouragement you need to move forward. Also remember, as you are searching for the members of your success team, part of your purpose is to be a member of other peoples’ success team!