I spend a lot of time in developing countries, gathering stories of hope for a global nonprofit and working with people from North America who have a passion to serve orphaned and vulnerable children of all ages. There is a common thread that links conversations together when the question is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The responses often come easily at first:
doctor, accountant, lawyer, teacher, computer engineer, business owner, leader.
But inevitably, both children and adults, regardless of culture or socioeconomic status, answer the question with a question:
“But how can I know God’s will for my life? How will I know my purpose? What if I miss it?”
So often in our lives, we define purpose based on what we do (or see ourselves doing once we complete the education, land the perfect job, or find the best place to live). And if things don’t go according to the plan we have designed or dreamed, we can find ourselves struggling to believe we have any purpose at all.
In my upcoming book, One Woman Can Change the World, I share this: “But here’s the truth: God’s will is not the smallest dot on a mystical bull’s-eye that must be hit with laser accuracy in order for your life to matter. His will is not a deep-dive mystery that is passed out in puzzle pieces. And He is not a jerk who dangles a carrot in front of your hungry soul while He holds a baseball bat behind His back, ready to thwack you if you don’t use pretty words to ask first or chew with your mouth closed.”
Perhaps, just perhaps, God’s will isn’t a “what” at all.
Take a moment and consider these definitions of the word “purpose”:
Perhaps His purpose for our lives has less to do with our choice of career or spouse or home and far more to do with the way we actually SEE our lives in light of both eternity and the day-to-day.
The reason for which something exists; its design.
Determination; resoluteness, persistence.
And this one:
The object at hand.
I’m not discounting the joy that comes in finding a job that allows you to use your gifts and talents well. In fact, I wrote a great article for QARA about purpose and calling that includes 15 questions to help you discover your “why.” You can find it right here. But those gifts and talents, along with your personality and passions, are all wrapped within you for a purpose—and that purpose is YOU.
Think about that: We are His purpose, His design, the object of His affection. His steadfast and persistent love are woven into our spiritual DNA.
One of my favorite quotes is by Emily P. Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing:
God won’t let you miss your own future.
God promises us time and time again in Scripture that He is faithful. He says He will never leave us, that no one can snatch us from His hand, that every wonderful thing He designed within us will come to life through us because He doesn’t simply start things and then walk away from them.
And He asks only one thing of you and me on this journey, no matter where we live and no matter how long we’ve been walking—that we trust Him with the steps we take. In Romans 12, you’ll find this encouragement:
So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
God’s purpose is your life, lived fully.
His will is that you see this life you’ve been given as meaningful, that you see the days as purposeful, that You see His handiwork in both the momentous and the mundane.
Today, take a few moments and answer these questions:
- In what ways do I define my purpose by what I do?
- How might I treat this life differently if I saw it as meaningful and purposeful, each and every day?
- What areas of my life do I need to place before God as an offering?
- What might my future look like if I truly trusted God with it?