I have asked many this question. Unfortunately, I have seldom heard an answer that even resembles a life purpose. Why is that? We all seem to know that we should have a life purpose, but life keeps coming at us so fast that we don’t have time to contemplate the answer. Why? Have you noticed that Jesus was never in a hurry? Did He have a life purpose? I think we would all agree that He had the noblest and important purpose that has ever been given to a human being, yet he did not receive awards or get His name in lights. In fact, He was rebuked to the day He died.
Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life was a runaway best seller even in secular circles due to the innate need for purpose in life. His book touched a nerve in all of us who want to believe that life in general—and our individual lives specifically—must have some greater meaning and purpose. Oliver Wendell Holmes described the sad futility most people experience when he wrote, “Many people die with their music still in them.” In other words, what all these people could have been, and should have been, was never realized.
There is something deep within our very beings that nag at us to find some meaning and purpose for our lives. Too often, we try to satisfy this nagging need for purpose by making lots of money, accumulating lots of nice things, being a workaholic, pursuing power and prestige, etc. A multimillionaire told me some years ago—after spending a lifetime dedicated to climbing the ladder of success—that once he had finally reached the top he discovered, to his bitter disappointment, that “the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.” All that he had gained in the climb to “success” was totally overshadowed by what he had lost in its pursuit—his health, his wife, his family, and his friendships.
We all know in our soul that we innately have a purpose and dignity that elevates our value as a human being to an image of God. Even the non-religious, secular world has appropriately acknowledged Mother Teresa in her noble life-purpose.
So… How do you find your life purpose?
There are three areas that must be considered to find our life purpose.
1. God has hard-wired certain God-given passions into each of us.
These God-given passions are the things that excite us, motivate us, and bring us enjoyment. It may be sports, building things, some moral or social cause, learning, or the arts. Each of us possesses a unique combination of God-given passions. God gave us those passions to point us towards a specific purpose and enable us to fulfill it.
2. God has given us a unique set of talents.
These God-given talents are the things that come naturally to us. For some, it is the ability to sing or teach, an athletic ability or some mechanical insight or understanding. Some people are incredibly artistic while others have a natural ability to dream of what could be. The way to know you have a God-given talent is that you are better at it than you should be for the time and effort you have put into it. The youth who picks up a basketball and right from the first time he touches the ball he is above average at the game. Or the young lady who captivates all by her singing and yet has never taken a voice lesson. God has given each of us a unique set of God-given talents for a purpose.
3. God has planted within each of our hearts some God-given calling.
This God-given calling has some divine, eternal intention for which we have been created. I am not talking about a general purpose like worshiping Him or living a godly life. These things apply to all of us. I am talking about some specific calling that He wants us to accomplish for Him with our lives.
When you find something to do with your life that is fueled by your God-given passions, utilizes your God-given talents, and accomplishes a God-given purpose, you will find peace and fulfillment. Engaging in this activity will bring complete fulfillment and will leave you totally energized. It is like when you hit the sweet spot on a baseball bat—you hit a home run! You do NOT need to go into full-time Christian ministry, become a pastor, missionary, or Bible college professor. Obviously, those are worthy life purposes for those whom God has given the passion, talent, and calling for, but they are not for everyone.
Having a life purpose may be counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
• Is your purpose to stay in a marriage that is difficult because you are obeying God and trying to live out His story for your life?
• Is your purpose running your business with integrity and honor and helping those in need?
• Is your life purpose visiting the sick and destitute for them to feel more meaningful and loved?
• Is your purpose encouraging others?
Last year my father died of natural causes at 90 years old. The day he died, my mother was outside the room at the assisted care with the family surrounding her. A woman rolled up to my mother in an electric wheelchair; she was 90 herself. She looked at my mother and began telling her how much my dad loved her and how he would talk a lot at the dinner table about her. She went on for almost 15 minutes encouraging and honoring my mother.
The next day I saw the woman at the assisted care and wanted to talk to her about that moment with my mother. I told her that she was acting so much like Jesus in the way that she was encouraging her. You know what she said to me? “I know!” She knew what her life purpose was at 90 years old.
If you do not want to die with “your music still in you,” then I encourage you to discover what God created you for by identifying your God-given passions, your God-given talents, and your God-given purpose. Find something you love and are gifted to do that will fulfill a calling and have an eternal impact. In so doing, you will indeed discover God’s greatest gift.
You’ll Need a Plan
A study that was reportedly conducted on Yale alumni revealed that only 3% of the graduates surveyed had a written plan for their lives. However, those with written plans accumulated more wealth than the other 97% combined. Also, those with formal, written plans enjoyed better marriages, more contented family life, and greater career success.
With the appropriate questions, you can begin the process of developing a vision and purpose for the future. Once you have discovered the answers to these fundamental questions, all the other conclusions regarding lifestyle, values, wealth, business, children, grandchildren, taxes, and most importantly the impact through your family legacy is answered quickly and easily.
Free Download: Contentment Tensions Map
Are you content? Use this contentment map by Kingdom Advisors as the beginning of a bigger conversation that you have with your spouse or with the Lord about where you stand in light of the opportunity to experience greater contentment. This tool is not designed to be an assessment, but rather a conversation starter and a tool that begins to open doors to greater levels of contentment in your roles, relationships, and financial decisions.