For years I’ve relentlessly pursued my purpose or calling if you prefer to no avail. I’ve read every blog and book I could find on the subject and purpose was ever so elusive. The basic premise of most of these books is that you look for the intersection of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what the world actually needs. There’s a pretty famous book on purpose that [Spoiler Alert!] tells you that your purpose is to glorify God and worship Him. While that’s absolutely true, it only creates more questions. If your purpose on Earth is to glorify God, then what are you supposed to be doing?
It’s this pursuit that caused me to write Kingdom Driven Leader. It was during writing that I realized that we don’t have a purpose. At least not in the context of most people’s questions. The idea that you’re called to do one thing and that thing will complete you and help you make sense of the world is false. Only God can fill that void and answer that question for you. Here we are again in the same cycle from above. If our only purpose is to worship God and only He can give us a sense of purpose, then what now?
Your Purpose is Plural
Whenever I think about purpose and mission I tend to think singularly. So much of our definition of purpose is tied up in our careers. As leaders, we’re taught to make our mission statements clear and portable. When we think of people that are “living out their purpose” we see the one thing that they are known for or their job title. However, what we don’t see is the seasons of life they endured to get to that known thing. While you and I might value some big accomplishment that we see, what the person might value is a completely different season where they were in God’s purpose for their lives during that time.
If you asked Moses what his purpose was he might tell you it was to set the captives free or he might tell you it was to lead the Israelites to the promised land. However, if he had to pick just one thing, he might tell you it was to witness the glory of God and be his friend (Ex. 33:11). Your life has many purposes. As you grow in your relationship with Christ, as you mature and as seasons change there are new missions and endeavors. I know that God works all things for my good so my failures and past will be used somehow in my future . You don’t have a purpose, you have purposes… it’s plural.
Your Path Is The Key To Your Purpose
That’s nice but it still leaves that question, “what now?” If my purpose is to glorify God and to be His friend, then what am I supposed to do with my time on Earth? Jesus said that in order to find your life you need to lose it. When you give up the pursuit of your purpose you’ll find yourself right in God’s purpose. What we define as someone’s purpose often discounts the journey, quite possibly the real purpose. If we give up the maturation or strengthening process we lose the value and satisfaction of the journey.
You might say that the purpose of every player on a sports team is to win a championship. You’d be partially right. However, if that’s the only purpose of the sport then I don’t think anyone would nearly be as interested in it. It’s the journey to becoming a champion that has sports fans intrigued. What obstacles did they overcome, what minor victories did they have, and more importantly what did they learn from their defeats? Your path, not the destination is the key to your purpose.
Practically Pursuing Purpose Through Prayer
Honestly, all of this writing is pretty therapeutic but if I read it 20 years ago I’d be pretty cynical and think we’re back where we started with the “Purpose Driven Life.” For me, the frustrating thing isn’t that the books aren’t correct or life-giving, it was that they weren’t very tactical. They didn’t help me very much day to day. However, God has us on street view and only lets us see day to day. I wanted a big picture purpose and an answer to all my life’s questions. Instead, God wants us to be His friend and He’s intensely interested in the details of each day.
Practically walked out, this looks like prayer about your specific day. When religious people say, “cast your cares on God” it doesn’t mean that you just say, “Lord, I’m casting my care on you” and you’ll feel immediate relief. God wants you to explain why you feel the way you do. Go into detail with him in your prayer time like you would if your best friend is there. For me, I had to change from praying whether or not to take an opportunity to pray what I was worried about if I did take it and what I was worried about if I didn’t. The more effort I put into the relationship the more I’m filled with joy and peace.
I spent the better part of my life trying to figure out why God made me. God’s blessed me with front-row seats to some miracles and some divine appointments. I’d ask, “why not me?” However, often I’d be obsessive even to the point of depression that I could not figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I’d ask, “how will God use me?” For me, I had to realize that “purpose” was not synonymous with value. If I was doing something important then surely I’m valuable. Our value isn’t determined by what we do! Our value is determined by what Jesus did. That’s the difference between Christianity and every so-called religion. Once I realized that my pursuit of purpose had become a form of idolatry and that I needed to replace it with a pursuit of God I was no longer obsessed.