How often have you heard someone talk about the importance of “purpose”? How often have you hear ME talk about the importance of “purpose”? I would guess, in both cases, often. We understand intuitively that unless we have identified the purpose for our lives we will not know the purpose for each day of our lives. We want to use the years that we have been given on this earth to make the biggest impact possible and we know that accomplishing that is directly tied to living out our purpose. Where many people struggle though, is not understanding the IMPORTANCE of purpose, but in understanding the SOURCE of purpose.
We like to say things such as, “discover your purpose”, or “find yourself” while emphasizing the importance of doing only those things that make us happy. Even as Christians we make discovering our purpose about pursuing things that make us feel good which elevates us to the place of both the recipient and source of purpose. It is all about us. But here’s the problem with misunderstanding the true source of purpose: If purpose is only about what makes us happy, or causes us to feel good (a very difficult thing to define), then when the emotion changes, so will our sense of value and purpose. If our purpose is not tied to something or someone bigger than our environment or current emotional state, we will live in a never ending pursuit of self-discovery and identity. Discontentment, restlessness about life, and the never-ending search for emotional fulfillment are the natural consequences of a self-focused, self-perpetuated purpose.
But there is another, and I would suggest right, way to view our purpose. The question that we should be asking is, “What is my God-given purpose?” Eliminating how we feel or what we think we may be capable of accomplishing, we need to work to understand who we WERE CREATED TO BE.
We find a great example of this in the passage below. I give the context of this passage here, but these verses fall at the end of Paul the Apostle telling the preacher Timothy not to be afraid.
This is what he says:
2Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Did you catch what he said? So much good stuff here but two BIG things jump out at me (they are the two bold phrases in case you were wondering): Paul is saying that purpose is given by GOD, and that he (Paul) knew what that purpose was. He said that he was “appointed” a preacher and apostle and teacher. God established the purpose for Paul’s life. This is an incredible truth that does not only apply to New Testament Apostles. It applies to all of us! So the big question is, “how can we understand GODS purpose for our lives?”
A few thoughts:
1. Realize that it is Gods purpose, not yours.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
As I have already mentioned, this is where you must start if you want to live the life that you were created to live. Although we will experience joy and blessing by pursuing God’s purpose for your life, those are b-products and not goals. The goal is to know and do what GOD has created you to do. Romans 8:28 does not say that all things work together for good. It says that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. While many read this verse and interpret it as an unconditional promise of Gods blessing, it is actually a statement that we MUST be where God wants us to be in order to experience His blessing. Seek God’s purpose for your life and not your own.
2. Understand the BIG purpose given to all people.
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
When you begin to view purpose as coming from God then you can begin to ask what it is that He, the Creator, wants you to do. I love the verses above because they are very clear on the big purpose for all people everywhere. Why did God create you and me? So that we could live our lives on this earth in a way that will bring honor and glory to Him. We like to start by asking, “what is God’s specific purpose for me”, but would do very well to begin simply living to fulfill the purpose of ALL people. Are you fulfilling the big purpose?
3. Embrace your SPECIFIC purpose.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Ps 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
There are so many things that make God incredible, but one of the big ones, at least in my mind, is that He created each of us unique and has given each of us a specific purpose. You have the gifts, talents, abilities, opportunities and connections to not only fulfill the big purpose for everyone on this planet, but to accomplish exactly what God created YOU to do! That’s amazing! I have discussed this in a previous March or Die podcast which you can find here, but knowing that God created you for something specific, here are a few questions you can ask to figure out what that might be:
What gets you excited? Not what makes you happy, but what makes you feel useful and engaged?
What do you have a natural if undeveloped talent for? Something you don’t mind working hard to develop.
If one word or phrase could be used to describe your life, what would you want that to be?
Ask these questions, knowing that God put His desires in your heart, and let Him begin to show you how you can use those talents and desires to glorify Him.
4. Move forward one step at a time from the known to the unknown.
As given in Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 119:105 above, begin where you are and trust God to show you the next step that you need to take. When it comes to fulfilling your God-given purpose you will not know what the next step is until you need to take it. That is what faith looks like. It is doing what you know to do right now and trusting God for what you don’t know or can’t understand. Begin where you are moving from the known to the unknown. God will lead but only if you are moving forward. Start moving!
5. Experience the power of purpose.
2Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
The Apostle Paul was not only a man incredibly used by God but was abused, rejected, and ultimately martyred for his faith. In the two verses above we are told why he was willing to go through all that he did as he traveled, preached, taught, and started churches. Why was he able to do so much? Because he understood his God-given purpose! There was not a trial, difficulty or trauma that could keep him from moving forward because he knew exactly what God had created him, appointed him, to do. This doesn’t mean that he understood the future, only that he left the future, by faith, up to God and focused on his purpose. That is the power of purpose to keep us Marching Forward!
Are you pursuing your purpose for life or Gods? Choose to live Appointed: Knowing and living out your God-given purpose!