A useful tool for helping others understand their life journey is the Preparation Funnel. A funnel provides a visual picture of what progressive revelation of one’s call looks like. Early in life, the funnel is wide—our picture of our purpose is vague, and a lot of things fit in it. As we grow into our thirties and forties, the funnel narrows significantly. We’ve learned much more about our destiny, what we were made to do, and with that knowledge comes responsibility to focus in on the core of our mission and let go of things that don’t fit. The straight spout of the funnel represents fully functioning in a convergent role in our life purpose. Entering a convergent role means the Preparation season of life is over—your role and your destiny are matched, and there is no longer a need to take on tasks or roles outside your central area of call.
Early in life, accumulating a wide variety of experiences can actually be more productive than focusing narrowly on one career path, because it helps us find the edges of the funnel (what really fits us). Understanding this need for breadth of experience early in life removes a lot of the pressure younger leaders put themselves under to get their destiny and calling right. Trying to find the one thing God wants you to focus all your energy on at age 24 is often counter-productive.
However, this idea of prioritizing on broad experience can be hard to implement. Once we have some idea of what we are supposed to do, we are usually all fired up to get at it. And parents are usually pushing for us to get on with our careers.
The key reason we don’t move into our true calling early in life is the need for inner development. If you observe the calling development of biblical leaders, one thing that shows up frequently is that although they grasped what they were supposed to be doing early on, the heart of their legacy came through their being. David knew he would eventually fill the role of a king when he was 17, but becoming “a man after God’s own heart” and the author of psalms that cover the whole gamut of human emotion took a lifetime. The impact of David’s being encapsulated in his psalms has far outstripped what he accomplished in his calling task as king. Imagine what would have been lost if David had moved into being king at age 21 and never experienced the difficulties, betrayals and perils that litter the psalms!
Using the Preparation Funnel helps people understand how to embrace preparation on the path to destiny. At age 25, there are many roles that can prepare you for where you need to be at 50!
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. For more information on Tony’s best-selling coaching books go to www.coach22.com