Re-Thinking Purpose

Let’s get right to it.

Lately I’ve been wondering if we try to over-specialize when it comes to our purpose and destiny. We hear preachers belting out proclamations of God’s purpose for our lives and we get nervous. We anxiously ask ourselves, “Am I living in my purpose? Do I even know what my purpose is?”

Sometimes I think that our very human need for distinction and individuality and uniqueness overshadows what God is trying to accomplish in our lives in general…and keeps us from the real freedom that comes with His positioning and guidance. We frustrate ourselves by trying to nail down our purpose to a specific job, career path, or art-form when quite frankly, I think it is much simpler than that.

First of all, our primary purpose…the heart of our very design as humans…is to give God glory. That’s pretty straightforward. Obedience gives Him glory. Kindness gives Him glory. Love gives Him glory. Seems like a great starting point to me. Secondly, when it comes to our individual day to day assignments and how these relate to some overall legacy or purpose…could it be that we’ve just gotten to deep for our own good?

In my own life, I’ve done that. I’ve desired to top both the NY Times best sellers list and sit on Oprah’s couch. I’ve made those things my evidence of achieving my purpose. I’ve also battled with whether I write better fiction, poetry, or nonfiction even though I know that the season I’m in personally often determines where I’m the most powerful. It doesn’t help that the inclination of the publishing industry is to box you into a specific genre or platform. Especially since my very nature seems diametrically opposed to anything that has to do with a box. 🙂

So what if I…and we…have gotten this whole searching for purpose thing all wrong?

What if my purpose is simply to serve? I don’t mean serve in the way that we are all asked to do so as followers of Christ. I’m talking about that above and beyond, extraordinary servitude done on behalf of the Father that some people just do well. Maybe instead of seeking some deep and overly specific purpose and legacy, I should focus on serving people powerful and life-changing words of encouragement, motivation, inspiration, etc. etc. So much so that it doesn’t really matter the type of writing I do…whether it is a novel, some poetry, a business plan, or an email…as long as God through me is able to meet the needs of those who read my work. Sure, I have to know what season I’m in. I can’t be working on a screenplay when God has called me to finish a novel. But at the same time, I can’t get hung up on any one manifestation of my gift…worrying that I’m losing something because I’m working on that novel and not a screenplay… because ultimately it would be the service that matters.

Let me put it another way. In the college of life, my major would be service and my minor…or concentration… would be writing. That’s it.

Wow. I feel free already.

Here’s another example. Some of you are called to teach. Again, not in the everyday way that Christians should be sharing with others. But in that… “wow, no one could have taught me that but you”…kind of way. Teaching is your life’s “major.” Unfortunately, it will be easy for you to allow frustration or hopelessness to overcome you if you try to categorize your teaching based on how society, your parents, or your own mind says your teaching should look. And yet, the bottom line is still this: you are called to teach. Regardless of what that looks like. In one season of your life, your teaching may manifest itself in the Sunday School classroom while in another it might be in a public school setting. Your call to teach may reveal itself in your work as a corporate trainer or as a stay at home mom who trains her children in the way they should go. For some of you, your job might be working IN a school as a janitor. You might moan and groan about how you are not fulfilling your purpose as you watch the students run to class. But are you totally missing the fact that your teaching reveals itself every day that you share a little wisdom and guidance with the guys on the street corner as you wait for the bus to take you to work?

Yeah, I think we have to re-think this whole “search for purpose” thing. It would free us up so much if we focus on #1) our primary purpose of giving God glory no matter what we do and #2) finding our general purpose and allowing it manifest in our lives in the many fulfilling ways that it can. This will give us the flexibility to do the multitude of things that God has placed our hearts to do and explore the multitude of gifts that He has given us. Why? Because our life’s major…or our main purpose…will be a theme throughout anything we do and every season we’re in.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Eccl. 3:11

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



3 Replies to “Re-Thinking Purpose”

  1. Love it, Love it, LOVE IT! I know that I searched for that elusive purpose for years (and sometimes still do) because we believe that purpose is tied to accolades. But I love that purpose isn't tied to that. You purpose may be to encourage 1 specific person at one specific instance that propels that person to be better. You wont win any awards for that on earth, but GOD will be pleased. And isnt that all that matters?

  2. True: I've been trying to get my purpose down to a specific job (acting) and evidence that I'm achieving my purpose: winning awards, most watched show on tv…etc. And it's actually been depressing because I have't been acting, this year at all. So I question God and His purpose for my life! I question if should I be working part time, should I focus on my science background instead, or give up on acting. When my purpose is sooo much simpler than that. My husband and I were just talking about this last night. About how I am always mentoring 3 girls at any given time and how my words leave an impression on their lives. And that surely I'm walking in my purpose now. Such a timely post, something that I need to chew on again.

  3. So true. you have hit the issue square between the eyes. We all seem to get our eyes on that distant future "will be there someday" purpose and get all discouraged because we dont see that ideal now. Keeping within the moment of the everyday NOW we are fullfilling those callings if we are mindful of who we are to be reflecting. Great Post!!

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