“Why am I here? What is my real purpose? What should I be doing with
my life?’ This lack of self-understanding and direction is a health problem
itself, in a sense, for it can lead to all sorts of emotional stress, including
depression, anxiety, and fatigue…It’s not only your mind that wants to
know your mission—this knowledge is vitally important to your body and
spirit as well.”
Implicit in the quotation above is the human quest to find purpose in life. So strong is this desire that it can lead one to attempt almost any feat in its pursuit, and when one fails to attain it the consequences can be deadly. In book V of The Brothers Karamazov, the nineteenth-century classic by Russian theologian Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Grand Inquisitor palely observes, “For the secret of man’s being is not only to live, but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth…”
Purpose has power. To live with purpose is to live on purpose. This notion is reflected throughout the Bible and everyday life. When calling Jeremiah to be a prophet, God said to him, “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” (Jeremiah 1:5, EB). What a notion – to think that God has a predetermined purpose for our lives, “a special work”, a purpose pregnant with potential which, if followed faithfully, would not only glorify Him but also bring us personal fulfillment otherwise unimaginable to the human senses!
Lamentably, however, great masses of people awaken every day to a purpose no more inspiring than paying the bills, saving for a bigger house or boat, or hoping against hope that they don’t die within the first month of retirement. It is at once astounding (and sobering) to realize the galactic amount of potential that lays untapped in the lives of millions of people (especially young people) across gender, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic lines—the number of which increases everyday. Only eternity could afford us the time and intellectual capacity to fully comprehend the monumental loss of this untapped potential to humanity socially, spiritually, and otherwise. In the apt words of a friend who once wrote to me, “life tends to lead us about as if by an unseen nose ring tugging hither and yon, and like a beast of burden we follow in mindless obeisance.”
Notwithstanding all of the above, there is hope. Are you one who feels that God is calling you to a larger purpose, but you have no clue what that purpose may be or, worse yet, how to begin pursuing it? Here are three things you need to know about purpose.
1. Purpose is God-given. Simply stated, God gives you your purpose in life. He speaks directly to you. You don’t need to go looking for it. You don’t need to worry or fret yourself about what direction your life should take. God may speak through another person, a sermon, a book or life experience; whatever the medium, the message will be clear to you.
You should also know that God has given to each of us “gifts”—those natural traits, talents, and skills that help to make up who we are. These gifts are intended by God to be employed in the development of your life’s purpose. As God reveals to you your purpose, you will find that there is a natural relationship between your giftedness and your purpose. You will feel as if you were born for your purpose.
It should be comforting to know that we need not fret over the direction of our lives. As He did with Jeremiah and countless others of His servants, God will reveal His purposes to us—in His own time. We must remember that God did not part the Red Sea until the children of Israel actually arrived at the Red Sea. God did not simply tell Moses that He wanted him to build a sanctuary for His presence, He gave Moses the exact specifications for the building. I am told that some missions are so secret for military pilots that they are not given the exact coordinates for their destination until they are actually in the air. If you are not clear as to the direction or purpose for your life, fear not: as you go, you will receive.