The following is derived from chapter 11 of my new book, Discovering Your Destiny.
At the end of his life, the apostle Paul could look back and know that he was finishing well. He was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). I certainly hope that I will be able to say the same thing when it’s time for me to go on to eternity. Unfortunately, not every character in the Bible could make such a statement. There are those that started well but did not finish well. They got derailed from their destiny. I am sure that we are all aware of people in our own time who have had similar experiences.
Though certainly not an exhaustive list, below are some ways that we can get off track as we pursue the fulfillment of our destiny.
Destiny starts and ends with pursuing our relationship with God. When looking at the lives of men and women who have fallen into moral failure or gotten off course from their purpose, it is inevitable that at some point the priority of personal devotion was lost. We must continue to keep the relationship first in every season.
When describing our connection to Himself, Jesus used the illustration of a vine and branches. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As a branch is fully dependent on the vine to sustain its life and produce fruit, so are we completely dependent on God. It is only when we remain vitally connected to the Lord that we can produce the fruit He is looking for. Only that which is born out of relationship with Him will have lasting eternal value.
By “abiding in the Vine” fruit will be produced in our lives. But as this fruit is produced, we must not put so much attention on the fruit that we lose sight of the relationship that produced the fruit in the first place. This can be a trap during a season of fulfillment. When things are going well, we can get so busy with work, activities, ministry, or other good things that we lose sight of the simplicity of devotion. We must continue to make spending time with God and growing in friendship with Him our goal. If not, we will eventually get derailed from our destiny.
Neglecting our relationship with God will get us off course, but so will relational breakdowns with others. I have observed various situations in which a relational breech has caused a destiny to be derailed. It is inevitable that we will go through circumstances that are hurtful and that at times others will cause us pain. It is how we respond to these situations that determines if we will move forward in our destiny or become derailed. While we can’t control the actions of others, we can do every-thing in our power to be at peace with others and walk in healthy relationships.
Jesus emphasized the importance of handling conflict in relationships well. He gave instructions about resolving offenses quickly and stressed the importance of forgiveness. If we allow bitterness, offense, anger, or resentment to sink in, we are in trouble. We will not be able to advance into God’s purposes when these negative and sinful attitudes are in our heart.
Is there someone you need to forgive? Are there wounds that you are still carrying from the past? Don’t allow past offenses to influence the course of your destiny. Deal with these issues and allow the Holy Spirit to bring healing to your heart. If not, your destiny will be tainted and perhaps disrupted altogether.
Pride is a terrible killer of destiny. Pride was the devil’s downfall, and he will use it to try to bring us down as well. 1 Peter 5:5 says that God “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The devil knows that if he can successfully tempt us to walk in pride, his job will be easy. We will be resisted by God Himself! But humility on the other hand attracts the grace of God, without which we can never fulfill our destiny.
The passage goes on to say, “Therefore humble your-selves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Remember, it is our job to humble ourselves and God’s job to exalt us. If we try to do God’s job He will have to do ours—if we exalt our-selves He will humble us.
This does not mean that we should take on a false humility that refuses to walk in our authority and calling. Just as we must cooperate with God in the process of preparation, we must cooperate with Him in the time of fulfillment. When God promotes you, step up to it; when He opens the door, walk through it; when He releases His favor, walk in it. But maintain a posture of humility, knowing that this all comes from Him and that we are completely dependent on His grace. As you step into your destiny, remember that it is for the glory of God and benefit of others.
Disobedience to the Lord can stall our destiny or derail it altogether. King Saul is a prime example. His disobedience prompted the prophet Samuel to declare that “the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
Some start well on the path of their destiny, but perpetual disobedience or compromise ends up keeping them from seeing the fullness of what God intended. Sin can creep in, and if left unchecked and un-repented of it will end up spoiling, limiting, or wrecking the person’s influence and fruitfulness. We never outgrow our need to walk in obedience. We must continue to walk in submission to God each step of the way.