Within each of us is a desire to be significant, to have a purpose, to make a difference in this world. It’s part of the reason the Enneagram and other self-evaluation tools are so popular right now. We want to understand ourselves better and long for more to this life than just the mundane day-to-day. But where does this desire come from?
We can go back to the time of creation itself, in the book of Genesis, and see that God made man on purpose and for a purpose. When he created Adam and Eve, He gave them specific tasks to help make something of the world around them. He put before them purpose in caring for creation and all that is in it. Our desire to create goodness and lasting impact is part of being made in the image of God.
When we hear the word “purpose” we typically think of something grand–that one thing that makes us unique and makes our impact in the world. We often ask, “what is God’s purpose for my life and how do I find it?” We can get the wrong idea that we each have only one purpose and if we don’t figure it out, we can miss it and we don’t get another chance. While some people in this world have been given a very clear purpose and spend their whole life focused on that purpose, such as Mother Teresa did, for most of us, we are given different purposes in different seasons of life as we grow in our gifts and strengths. There are many opportunities throughout our lives to have a sense of purpose and feel fulfilled, but first we have to understand the different types of purpose.
Our first purpose, which is our general purpose and applies to everyone, is to love God and believe in His son, Jesus. It is through following God each day, learning more about Him in His word and sharing His love with others that we find our ultimate purpose. This is where we find the true source of our identity and from which all other purpose is driven from.
Our second purpose is in our specific calling. The word “calling” in Greek is “kaleo” which means “divine invitation”. Ephesians 2:10 says that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are each uniquely made and have been given very specific gifts, strengths and passions, and we are invited by God to use them!
Determining our interests and passions can often help us figure out what God has invited us to do. God often works at the intersection of our gifts and our passions. We can find our God-given purpose to serve and bless the world uniquely through who He has already made us to be. This purpose can be lived out through our vocation, in our churches and our communities. We can find this calling and purpose in the volunteer work we do, through ministries we are a part of, through our job, raising our families or through a hobby. If you are feeling unclear about what your calling might be, that’s ok! God has something for you! God is already at work all around you and has given you gifts that will make an impact on his Kingdom. Prayerfully dream with the Lord on what your calling in this current season might look like, and how you might join Him in Kingdom purpose!
We find our third purpose in day-to-day tasks or duties we are called to in our current circumstance and season of life. We have families to take care of, meals to make, houses to clean, and friends who need our help. This type of purpose is the one that we sometimes struggle with the most because we don’t always recognize how we can find purpose in our day-to-day. When we recognize that each task and job before us is given to us by God, we can find joy and purpose through even the smallest of things. It may be as simple as helping your daughter with her homework, making a meal to nourish your family or being a listening ear for a coworker. God uses the strengths and characteristics He has given you to bless others, even in the purposes of the mundane.
We can easily feel dissatisfied, however, when we blur the last two types of purposes-calling and daily purpose. It is only natural to want your vocation to also be the thing that you are perfectly gifted for and passionate about. We crave the satisfaction and joy of having a life-giving job that perfectly utilizes our strengths and talents. And in fact, that’s what our culture tells us we should be striving ceaselessly toward, and in doing so, find our worth. And while sometimes we get to do what we are most passionate about, God’s timing is not always our timing and we can find ourselves feeling adrift in the meantime.
So what do we do when the season of life that we are presently in doesn’t afford that perfect opportunity, and we feel discontented and confused? It’s important to zoom out and see your circumstances from an eternal perspective. This builds our faith and allows us to trust that God is at work in our everyday, which cultivates contentment in our day-to-day purposes. I know this isn’t always easy or intuitive, so over the next couple weeks we will take time to further explore what this looks like in real life. We’ll share more about this eternal perspective, and how to experience purpose and joy in every season.
In all these things we can trust that God will help us see the purposes that lay before us as we look to Him and spend time in His Word and in prayer. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” We can let God be our joy and our fulfillment as we seek to serve Him in all the opportunities that come our way with the specific gifts, strengths and passions we have to offer. You are wonderfully and beautifully made by God, on purpose, for purpose!