Thomas Chalmers once said, “The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Put another way, the key to happiness in life is to have a clearly defined purpose for living.
A purpose is a statement that answers the question, “Why do I exist?” Our purpose in life is the foundation on which we build our actions, our affections, and our aspirations.
God has a specific, unique purpose for your life to achieve His purpose. God is telling a story through the universe about His love and redemption through Christ. But God is also writing a unique story in your life to tell His story.
So how do you discover the unique story or purpose God has for your life in order to fulfill His purpose?
1. Identify your passion.
Every one of us is aware of certain needs in our society. Such an awareness does not come on our own, according to the Apostle Paul. God is the one who gives us that desire or passion, so that we might achieve His purpose.
- What needs inspire you?
- What makes you angry?
- What causes you to lie awake some nights?
The answer to these questions will help you discover your purpose in life.
Bobb Biehl, president of Masterplanning Group International, suggests six questions to assist you in identifying the needs about which you feel most passionate. Take some time to answer the following questions:
- What needs do I see in the world that concern me?
- If I could meet any need in the world, what need would I meet?
- What are the most urgent needs in my country, my community, my work, my school, and my church?
- What age group or type of people naturally interests me?
- What are the major needs among my neighbors, my friends, and my family?
2. Identify your gifts and abilities.
As you examine those needs that most concern you, it might be difficult to identify which need should guide your life purpose. How do you know which need you should spend your life trying to fulfill? Obviously, it should be a need that passionately concerns you. But it also should be a need that you are qualified to meet.
Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.”If God intends for you to meet a particular need, He will give you the unique abilities necessary to meet that challenge. Several years ago, I formulated this purpose statement: “My purpose in life is to communicate God’s message effectively.”
I have a burning desire to communicate God’s Word in a clear, interesting, and practical way. Preachers who bore people with biblical truth disturb me, as do Bible teachers who seem to have a “gift” for making the abstract truths of Scripture even more abstract. Through my preaching, teaching, and writing ministries, I want to help people understand the exciting and life-changing truths of the Bible.
My point is simply this: Before you seek to develop your life purpose statement, have a clear understanding of the gifts and abilities God has given you. God will use you to fill a need for which He has already gifted you. To try to identify those gifts you might have, take a moment to answer the following questions:
- What abilities do you have that other people seem to notice and appreciate?
- Suppose you were asked to give a “How To” seminar in your church or civic group on any topic you chose. What topic would you feel most comfortable addressing?
- Outside of recreational pursuits, list five accomplishments that have given you the most satisfaction. What aspect of these experiences did you enjoy?
- Is there a common denominator that you find in all or most of the above experiences? What is it?
Hopefully, these questions have helped you identify one area in which you are both interested and gifted. In a word, what is that area?
Now that you have identified both the needs that concern you and the gifts God has given you, see if you can write a sentence that describes your life purpose.
My purpose in life is to:________________________
But whether the purpose is broad or specific, your purpose should be connected to God’s purpose.
In John 4:34, Jesus gave us His general purpose: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food [purpose] is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.’”
But Jesus also had a clear understanding of His unique purpose in life to fulfill God’s purpose. Matthew 20:28 says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus understood that His unique purpose—a purpose no one else could fulfill—was to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.
Is it clear to you why you are here? When this life comes to an end, will you look back and conclude that you have lived well and significantly?
The great tragedy in life is not death, but life without reason.