Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines purpose as “the aim or intention of something.” This is where we get hung up finding our purpose in life. If we look at just this definition of purpose it seems we have only one purpose or goal, one thing we are supposed to do and if we don’t do it we’ve missed the target. Well, we may have one overlying purpose, but that doesn’t mean we have one thing we are supposed to do in order to achieve our destiny.
The evidence is clear that we have a purpose, but God has given us many gifts to achieve that purpose. And although our overall purpose is the same, the way we achieve that purpose, through our unique gifts, is individual.
In Rick Warren’s best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” he explains that life has a five-part purpose:
- For God’s pleasure
- For God’s family
- To become like Christ
- To serve God
- For a mission
While these are important to know as Christians, we probably had some idea our purpose was to glorify God in these ways. I don’t know about you, but it’s after knowing that where I get confused. Until reading an article recently I thought God had told me to find the treasure without the treasure map. I feel like I’m walking in circles around a destiny that I don’t know is right there in front of me.
In Liz Henderson’s one-page “statement” article in this month’s issue of Relevant magazine she clarifies that your purpose is not your job. Okay, I already said that in the above outline from “The Purpose Driven Life”, but Henderson suggests you find your real purpose by asking yourself, “What do I care about? Who do I enjoy serving? What would I do even if I didn’t get paid to do it?” She goes on to say, “In reality, it’s quite basic. At the end of the day, our purpose statement is all about tapping into the unique gifts God has given us, finding a way to live those out here on earth and, in the process, bring glory to Him.”
While Henderson is trying to take some of the weight off a heavy topic that I know feels like a burden to me some days, Jon Acuff, in the March/April issue of Relevant magazine gives this idea of purpose an even slimmer appearance. He breaks down this issue into 7 questions built for a slightly younger crowd than myself, but still altogether helpful. His first question is, “What are some things I want to do with my life?” He stresses not to concentrate on just one goal, but some broad goals that you recognize could change as our world evolves technologically and otherwise. Secondly, he asks, “Who really knows me?” The reason he asks this is because the third question involves those in your inner circle to help you define, “What am I awesome at?” Ask other people because they will point thing out you didn’t recognize about yourself. You don’t want to stop there because, as he mentions in the first question, society is always evolving. So, the fourth question is, “Am I still learning?” This doesn’t mean you need to enroll in college again (for me that would make three), simply that you should be learning wherever you’re at. Maybe that means learning a new skill at your job, taking a class at the community center, listening to Rosetta Stone. His fifth question is important for us all even though it’s written for 20-somethings, “Will social media come back to haunt me in my later years?” Do you really want your future employer or clients seeing what you put on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Examine your motives before you post. Acuff’s sixth question is, “Am I a selfish jerk?” It is important for all people to serve others in some way. You should never be too busy to do this. Which leads to the last, and my personal favorite. Acuff asks, “If my life were a movie, would I cheer?” Let me tell you, this was a hard one to consider.
With all this said, (I’m sure, losing my dad’s attention a few paragraphs back), I think I’ve gotten a little to anxious and self-centered over my purpose and goals in life. The truth is that God created me, and as my creator only He knows which part of the “body” I am. If I consider Warren’s five reasons I am on this earth and reflect on the things I do the most in my spare time, my passions and what makes me tick, I think it will be much easier to find my purpose. It’s not rocket science after all.
Heavenly Father, You are a creative Maker. You fashioned us each to be individuals, fit together to make one body. We thank you for our individuality, for our similarities as well as our differences. Father, teach us to recognize your prompts in your Word, in wise counsel, in signs and wonders, as well as in your nudging us in the gifts and passions you placed in our hearts from the time we were created. Remove the yoke we’ve put on ourselves that carries the weight of finding our one calling. You know our purpose and you hold nothing from us. Thank you, Lord, for your generosity, love, and grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part…He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body.
1 Corinthians 12:14, 18b-20 (TLB)
If you enjoyed this post please like it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email it to a friend. You can also sign up to follow the blog at the top of this page. I would also love to hear your feedback in the comments section.