You know people who seem to have identified their purpose in life since they were young. People who say things like “I have always wanted to be a writer,” or “I’ve never wanted to be anything besides a nurse.” People who have always longed to be a wife and mother, or who developed a strong burden to be a missionary in some special region of the globe.
In comparison, the rest of us may feel lost because we can’t articulate our life purpose, in fact we’re not sure we’ve ever figured out what it was supposed to be. Can you relate?
Do you identify with these questions?
How do some see their purpose so clearly? Why don’t I? What’s wrong with me? Do I even have a purpose in life? If I haven’t figured it out, does that mean my life is worthless? Is it too late to start now?
It’s never too late. And it may be that you know more about it than you think.
What is purpose?
A journey not a destination
It’s not about reaching goals, but about living a life guided by worthy values. It’s about what you are living for rather than the specific results you hope to achieve. Also, your purpose shifts as you go through life. You can devote all your energies to being the best mother possible, but your children will grow up eventually and if motherhood was the sum total of your purpose, you are suddenly lost. Whenever you reach the end of one life-phase you must look for new purpose in the next leg of your life journey.
A lifestyle focused on making a difference
A life where you use your passions, skills, and energy to make a difference to others. It may also include personal success and the realization of some long-held dreams, but any dream, goal, or achievement that is only focused on self is not part of your purpose. As Helen Keller put it:
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
A lifestyle of growth
It’s not a once-and-done thing. Until your dying breath your purpose will not be finished. You must constantly embrace the new things you are called to face to reach the next step on the journey. New skills. New people. New activities. New risks.
Questions to help you identify your current life purpose
- In what ways do I find joy in using my skills and passions to make a difference? Remember, making a difference in one person’s life is just as valid as running a huge ministry. It’s not about statistics or impact, but about faithfulness in whatever God has put in your soul to do.
- What persons/groups/situations especially stir my sense of compassion?
- What achievements in my past am I proud of? Not because I impressed others, but because it brought me a strong sense of joy and fulfillment.
- Am I still trying to fulfill a purpose that is out-of-date? What do I need to let go of or embrace to move on?
- What needs are right in front of me, in my place, with my people, that I can serve in a way that fulfills my soul?
Are you living life on purpose? If not, maybe it’s time to think about it.