“Why did God make you?” I recall hearing a retreat director in college ask a fellow retreatant that question. All I could think was, “I’m glad he’s not asking me. I don’t have a clue.” Little did I know I would be asking “What will I do when I grow up?” for about thirty more years. I am not alone. Seems numerous people are dissatisfied with their lives and yearning for a greater understanding to spend their time. That yearning isn’t bad, provided people come up with answers. A couple of years ago I discovered a sweet spot of purpose where life is a whole lot more meaningful, fruitful, and enjoyable. That sweet spot resides at the intersection of our God-given gifts, the concerns of our heart, and the meaningful difference we can make. Over the next few posts I am going to be exploring that sweet spot of purpose. To begin, let’s look at why it’s so incredibly important that we get clarity on our purpose. Here are nine benefits that readily come to mind when you know your purpose:
1) You don’t waste your gifts
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You have unique gifts the God intends for you to use. Matthew 5:14-15 comes to mind.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
If you lack a clear purpose, you’ll likely expend your gifts in fruitless ways or not use them at all. You’ll be a light under a bowl and the doesn’t do anyone any good.
2) You touch other people’s lives
Purpose is inherently about serving others. Did you notice the last part of the verse above, “so it gives light to everyone in the house.” God gave you gifts to use for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7 states.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for the common good.
Do you know who God wants you to serve? Lack this understanding and you’ll easily fall into selfishness. Frankly, a selfish life is antithetical to the gospel. The clearer you become about your purpose the more you touch lives and make a difference. Make your life count. Discover your purpose.
3) You stand strong in difficult circumstance
Purpose produces fortitude. Purpose provides strength in the midst of adversity. Think of the mother working three jobs motivated by a desire to give her children the education she never had. She perseveres, driven by higher purpose. The Apostle Paul burned with passion to share the gospel. From his dismal prison cell he did not write “woe is me” letters. Instead, inspired by purpose, Paul triumphantly penned these words,
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known through the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else. -Philippians 1:12-13
Paul unequivocally knew his purpose. Consequently, his suffering was not only meaningful, but a source of joy. His steadfast grip on purpose empowered him as a prison to proclaim, “Rejoice in all things. Again, I say rejoice.” Without purpose, difficult circumstance is meaningless pain. With purpose, difficult circumstance becomes victory.
4) You accomplish more
A purposeless life is a rudderless life. You journey with no destination, drifting aimlessly, and are pushed about by every wind. On the same retreat I mentioned above, the director spoke about having a “Rule of Life”. He was essentially talking about knowing your purpose. He explained, “Your life is like a climbing rose bush. It needs a trellis. Without a trellis the bush sprawls along the ground and has few blossoms. Given a trellis it will climb, grow abundantly, and be covered in blooms. A rule of life (purpose) is your trellis.” How much you bloom and grow, depends on your trellis. Without one your life will sprawl fruitlessly. Do you have a trellis?
5) You can make big decisions more easily
Knowing your purpose demystifies some decisions. In a recent master’s class I helped teach, one participant shared how knowing her purpose helped her make a big decision. She became aware of two job positions she could apply for. They were both great positions. They were both positions she was qualified for. Prior to knowing her purpose she would have been pained by choosing between the two and plagued with doubt afterwards. However, she had just finished writing her purpose statement. One position was quite obviously more inline with her purpose. Consequently, she felt confident rejecting the other. She voiced how freeing having a standard for making that decision was. But, what if they had both been in alignment with her purpose? Ironically, knowing your purpose then is just as freeing because you find yourself saying, “I really can’t go wrong with this choice. My options are both in alignment with my purpose. So, I am not going to drive myself crazy trying to figure out which is best.
6) You say “no” guilt-free and limit overcommitment
I have to confess I am a people pleaser. People pleasers stink at drawing boundaries. Countless times I’ve said yes to things I could do, but honestly shouldn’t have been doing. They’re weren’t bad requests. They just didn’t align with my purpose and priorities. As a result, I overcommitted, neglected my family, and did poorly at many commitments that I begrudge. Sound familiar? If so, you might be a people pleaser. Clarity of purpose provides a standard that empowers you to say with confidence, “I am honored you’ve asked me, but I am sorry I have a conflict and won’t be able to do that.” I remember the first time I did this. I was asked to attend an event. I said, “Sorry I can’t come I have a previous commitment.” What was the commitment? Staying at home with my family. Serving them was a higher calling. When I didn’t know my purpose, everything was fair game. Neglecting my family, health, sleep or other important priorities was easily done. Purpose provides direction and freedom.
7) You have greater energy
Without purpose, other people decide your priorities and agenda. You run hard all day long working on things that really don’t matter to you. This is life depleting. You go to bed feeling you wasted your time. You then rest poorly. To top it all off you wake up dreading your day, because frankly it doesn’t matter much to you. When you live in your purpose:
- You live in your gifts which is fun and life-giving
- You spend your time on activities related to your highest passions and concerns which is also fun and life-giving
- You go to bed feeling satisfied and looking forward to what you have to do the next day
All of these things benefits add up to greater energy and enthusiasm.
8) You escape living in deferred joy
Without purpose one commitment is just as good as another. However, when you are clear on your purpose, time get’s prioritized differently. What matters most to you takes on greater urgency and you are less likely to procrastinate. Many of us long to use our gifts, but keep placing them on hold. For example, “I’ll start playing in the praise band at church once summer comes.” or “When I retire I will begin volunteering at the clinic.” I call this living in differed joy. Why do we do this? Because, often times we mislabel a longing to use our gifts as a selfish dream. However, when using your gifts is a purposeful use, it should become a priority. Other things should be placed on hold.
9) You honor and glorify God to the best of your abilities
Let’s go back to that very first scripture I shared about being a light unto the world and continue on a verse,
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
You honor God when you live in the fullness of who God made you to b. e We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can you do that if you don’t:
- Love with your heart to the best of your ability
- Yield your soul over to the creator of it completely
- Share your God-given skills and gifts unreservedly
- Focus your mind on the issues and opportunities God has put before you
Clearly knowing your purpose can be a powerful path to honoring God with the fullness of your heart, soul, strength and mind. Knowing your unique purpose is critical to fulfilling the greatest commandment and the second which is like the first.
Would you like to discover your purpose?
If so then come join the 5-day Purpose Challenge. Starting Monday, May 29th I will be leading a simple and powerfully effective process for clearly identifying your purpose. As part of the 5-Day Purpose challenge you’ll receive daily:
- Easy-to-follow exercises to reveal your purpose
- Live training on Facebook to answer your questions
- Access to a limited-time private Facebook Group to connect with other awesome people just like you.
Don’t wait the 5-day Purpose Challenge starts, Monday, May 29th
In the challenge you will:
- Learn how to identify, ignite, and live into your God-given passions
- Discover an easy 3 part purpose formula so you unquestionably know what to do with your life
- Unleash your unique gifts and make your life count
- Experience new found energy and joy when you start living purposefully
What are you waiting for? Sign-up and get this one-of-a-kind free training now. Just click the button below.
John Arnold, The Practical Disciple
PS: Next post, I’ll share common myths that make finding your purpose an almost impossible and exasperating search.