What do you want to be when you grow up?

by: Carter & Hannah Cox

A few weeks back my wife and I were sitting in a hotel room in Orlando. We were getting ready to go to a tattoo shop to share the Gospel with a former drug cartel leader and supplier, who in the 80’s and 90’s was closely tied with the cocaine flowing into South Florida from Colombia. As we were getting ready to go, my wife shared with me how she was so proud of a few girls she was discipling:

“It is amazing to see Margaret and Claire’s passion to obey Jesus and share Him with others! I mean we have only been meeting and walking through commands of Christ for one month now, God is doing such an amazing work in their lives!”
I replied, “That’s amazing, praise God! You were made for this Hannah.” “No,” Hannah said, “...Everyone is made for this.”

Many times as we think about my life, my calling, my purpose, we have believed the individualistic lie from the enemy.

The question is usually phrased something like: “What is God’s purpose for me?” Or “What is God’s plan for my life?”

When I look to the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, I simply do not see an answer to this question. Rather, I see something much greater. 

Every person on the planet has an invitation into the mission of God.

His mission is simply to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His mission is that His gospel would be proclaimed throughout the whole world until there is No Place Left. (Matthew 24:14; Romans 15:19, 23)

His mission compels us to re-phrase our self centered question:

“If God is on a global mission to seek and save the lost, what part do I play in His global mission?”
“What is my specific gifting and calling to advance His purpose and Glory until there is no place left?”

This is a biblical perspective of life, of calling and purpose.

As God met with Abram under the starlit sky, He made clear that Abram’s life blessing and purpose would not only outlive him, but it would extend to every family on earth: “Now, the Lord said to Abram, “Go...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1, 3) In other words, “Abram, obey me...and I will use you and your offspring to bring about My grand mission to the entire planet.”

A few thousand years later, this blessing was realized far down Abraham’s lineage in the coming of Jesus. By His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection, forgiveness of sin is now made available to every person who would simply hear the Gospel and call upon Jesus as their resurrected Lord.

After three years of life on life investment into a ragamuffin band of outcasts, Jesus commanded them as He commands us: Go, make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and teach them to obey all Jesus commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20) He has not left us alone in this task, for we have received His power and presence in the person of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

So how does this - God’s global mission - shape our day to day lives?

How does this perspective inform who I am, what I will do, where I will be 10, 20 or 40 years down the road?

As any boy or girl who grew up in America, I was always asked the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question haunted me from the time I heard it until I was about 23 years old. I felt a weighty expectation, some type of standard that I was supposed to achieve in order to be a successful contributing member of society. This weight lifted in 2013 when I showed up to a #NoPlaceLeft disciple making training in Plano, Texas.

Jeff Sundell, a redneck International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to central Asia with origins in the sticks of South Carolina, trained me and 100 others how to make disciples the way Jesus did. Ironically, I was never taught this. Though I was an aspiring pastor and theologian with a seminary degree and 4 years experience in ministry...I did not know how to obey Jesus’ final command. I didn't know how to make disciples.

Jeff said: “If you’re gonna make disciples, it does not matter how much knowledge you have. Jesus cares about your obedience. ‘If you love me, you will obey me.’ (John 14:15) This week, you are going to learn some simple tools to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples.”

Jeff proceeded throughout the week to teach us how to map out our relationships - friends, family, neighbors, co-workers. This was the Who: the people we pray for, and go to. Next, Jeff taught us a simple gospel presentation. He taught us how to share our testimony in 15 seconds, and share the story of Jesus using 3-circles. This was the What to say. Then Jeff asked, “So what do you do if they say, ‘Yes, I want to follow Jesus?’”...“Well, Jesus told us to teach them to obey all He commanded. Jesus commanded a lot of things but here are 8 foundational commands that Jesus taught. We also see the first church in Acts 2 obeying these commands, so this would be a great place to start with your new disciples.” Jeff proceeded to share with us these eight commands of Christ: Repent & Believe, Be Baptized, Pray, Make Disciples, Persevere, Love, Take the Lord’s Supper, and Be Generous. This was the How. How to make disciples of brand new believers.

“Okay,” Jeff said, “You know who to go to, what to say, and how to teach new believers to be disciples who make disciples...now it's time to obey.” We were thrust out of the nest like baby chicks learning to use our barely developed wings to fly. And somehow, fly we did.

As I write this, it has been almost four years since that training, and can you guess what I have been doing? Though I am now married, changed jobs three different times, and traveled to five different countries...I still know who to go to, what to say, and how to disciple new believers when they say yes to Jesus.

I can say with all confidence that I no longer wonder about my purpose, my calling, or my mission in life.

I no longer wonder because I know His purpose and His global mission for the world. And regardless of my job, relationships, or location, I am called to play my part in accomplishing His mission until there is No Place Left. Jesus calls me a His disciple, and if I call Him my Lord, then it doesn’t matter where I am, or what I do for a living...all that matters is I obey Him. Because it is by my obedience that I show the world I love Him.

“If you’re gonna make disciples, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. Jesus cares about your obedience.”

With shaking hands I opened the door to Anarchy Tattoo parlor in Orlando, Florida. There was hispanic man covered from head to toe in tattoos at the counter. With a sudden spur of boldness, I called out:

“What’s up man, my name is Carter, Mikey sent me. Are you Gustavo?” “Mikey sent you?! I love that Mickey! What can I do for you Carter?” “Mind if I draw something up for you?"
“Ya man, lets see what you got.”
I began to show Gustavo the three circles. “Gustavo, God originally created the world perfect. And it is His plan for us to love Him and love other people. However, when we look at the world today, we don’t see too much love do we? We see a lot of brokenness. Would you agree?”
“Definitely man...we live in an F$#!% up world!”
“Right? And no matter what we do to fix our brokenness, nothing seems to work. Drugs, money, relationships, even our good religious works like going to church. All these things just snap us back into brokenness.”
“True, true, none of these things fix our brokenness.”
“Gustavo, this third circle represents Jesus. God saw our brokenness, our sin, and loved us so much that He sent His only son...Jesus...down to this earth to live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sin, and be risen from the grave. And Jesus said that the only way out of our brokenness is simply turning and believing in Him. If we turn and believe in Jesus, He forgives us of all our sin, restores us into a relationship with Him, and sends us to go back into the broken world to share this good news with with others.”
“Wow...I’ve never heard it put that way. That is so simple!”
“Gustavo, the reason I am here today is to ask you: ‘Where are you in this diagram? Are you in God’s plan or brokenness?’”
“To be honest man, I am in brokenness.”
“Where do you want to be?” I asked.
“I want to be in God’s plan," he said.
“Gustavo, seven years ago I turned and followed Jesus by calling upon Him in prayer. I said something like this: ‘Jesus, I know I am in brokenness because of my sin. Please forgive me. I believe you died and rose again. I want you to take control of my life! Restore me and send me on mission with you to reach others with your love.’”
“Gustavo,” I said, “have you ever called out to Jesus in this way?” “No I haven’t.”
“Are you ready to do that right now?”
“Yes, I am ready.”

The gospel can be that simple.

With tears in his eyes, and kneeling at the tattoo chair, Gustavo called upon Jesus to save Him.

My wife is right when she said, “Everyone is made for this.” You, me, Gustavo: we are all created by God to give him glory in our simple day to day obedience.

We are made to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples until there is literally No Place Left.

When we get this right, it does not matter who the world says we are, what we do for a living, or where we are located. As we obey Him, He will always lead us to every place and provide for us everything thing we need to do what He has called us to do.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

There will be a final generation that finishes the task of getting the Gospel out to every place on the planet. There will be a generation that sees the return of Jesus! May we be that generation!

If you have not been trained in who to go to, what to say, and how to disciple new believers. Visit our website at www.coxfamilyonmission.com. There is a section of training videos that will walk you through some simple tools. You may also want to check out the training schedule. If you see a training coming up near you, come and check it out! Join the #NoPlaceLeft movement; you were made for this. 

About the Author: Carter and Hannah Cox are simply followers of Jesus and fishers of people. Their mission and vision is to see that there would be #NoPlaceLeft where the Gospel of Jesus has not been proclaimed (Matthew 24:14). On a day to day basis they simply listen to Jesus through God's Word and prayer, obey what He says, share Jesus with others, and train others to do these very same things - make disciples who make disciples. Carter achieved his Masters in Church Planting from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, while Hannah has received her Masters in Dietetics from the University of Central Oklahoma. They are currently serving as Church Planting Catalysts in South Florida with e3 Partners, and have also had the privilege to train church planters in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cuba, and Haiti.