Figuring out your purpose seems to be a daunting task on the level of trying to find the Holy Grail and it shouldn’t be. Actually, you can discover your purpose a fairly simple and effective process which I’ll be sharing in next week’s 5-Day Purpose Challenge.
Literally hundreds of people have used this process and it just makes sense, HOWEVER, you’ll unconsciously sabotage finding your purpose if you’ve bought into even just one of the five deadly purpose myths. I call them deadly not to be overly dramatic, but because these mindsets will kill your efforts at finding your purpose.
So, let’s dive in. We’ll start with a mindset that holds within it TWO deadly myths.
The Bowie Knife Mindset
When I taught wilderness skills everyone seemed to want an epically big knife, a big shiny bowie knife. Bowie knives are showy and something to behold, but truth be told, limitedly functional.
Most of us aren’t Bowie knives. We’re just good old fashion pocket knives or may be Swiss army knives. Our purpose isn’t grandiose. It’s rather practical. We’re called to be great mom’s and dad’s, or to volunteer in the youth ministry, or to lend our artistic ability to a nursing home therapy program. We are not just given the responsibility of one of these endeavors but all or more.
The Bowie Knife Mindset actual leads to two HUGE prevalent myths. Specifically, if you’ve unwittingly bought into this myth you have two unspoken assumptions. First, your purpose must be grandiose and epic. Second that your purpose involves a single focused accomplishment. Together these assumptions will lead you to believe that everyone should be Ghandhi or Mother Therese achieving a single-minded task at an epic level.
These assumptions simply are not true and they will distract you from recognizing your purpose if like the vast majority of us your purpose is practical and multi-faceted. Let’s breakdown both myths:
MYTH # 1) Your Purpose Must be Epic, Big, and Flashy
When I consider this myth I think about Bezalel and Oholiab in the Old Testament. Oh wait, you don’t remember Bezalel and Oholiab? Bezalel made everything in the tabernacle and Oholiab was an engraver and designer, and embroiderer in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen.(Exodus 38) God gave them behind the scenes gifts to help get done one of the most important building projects in the Old Testament. But do we know anything about them? Not really. And, think about how many people we don’t even know the names of who were given gifts by God to help behind the scenes fabricate the tabernacle and build the temple.
The fact that God gives many of us gifts to serve in ways that aren’t touted publicly is also reflected in First Corinthians 12:22-25
On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.
God intended some of us to have gifts that aren’t flashy, or public, or big. Not all purposes are Bowie Sized. And basically in His Word God is saying, “I made you this way and you’re just as important if not more so than the people with epic tasks.”
MYTH #2) Your Purpose is Singular
God has given most of us many hat’s to wear and as a result we are multi-purpose people. For example, I have a God-given responsibility to my children, my wife, my congregation, and a growing responsibility around my mother as she ages and loses independence. And, these are only a few of the responsibilities I have been given stewardship over.
You most likely don’t have A purpose, but multiple purposes. So what happens if you are hot on the trail to find an epic singular purpose? You may very well neglect your God-given responsibilities right under your nose.
This singularity myth is insidious. Notice how NOONE and I mean NOONE ever speaks about your purpose plurally. In fact, referring to “my purposes.” or “your purposes” sounds awkward and somehow out of place.
I will concede this – you likely have a primary purpose or a meta-theme around purpose, like may be fundamentally you are a teacher. However, the person with a singular focus is a rarity not the norm.
MYTHS #3) Your Purpose Never Changes
This myth in some ways is an extension of the idea that we have a single purpose. This mindset pops up all of the time in a question people innocently ask, “Do you ever revise or reexamine your purpose statement?” Absolutely. I review and re-write my purpose statement every 90 days. Why would I do that?
What you’re going to learn if you engage in the 5-Day Purpose Challenge is that the sweet spot of living purposefully is the intersection of your gifts, the passionate concerns of your heart, and the difference you can make. Those three elements are fluid.
I have gifts now at 51 years of age that I didn’t have at 25 or even at 45. I can and will serve differently now than I did then. The opportunities and needs around me have changed dramatically as well. Even within my profession of ministry, what I am called to do is radically different now because our culture has gone through sweeping changes over the past twenty-five years.
Consider Esther in the Bible. She was a Jewish gueen of a Persian King. She held a specific position of influence that allowed her to intervene on behalf of her people. Her cousin Mordecai, pointed out that perhaps God had put her in the place she was in for “such a time as this.” In other words, “Perhaps, God has placed you here, at this time, and for this purpose.” I have no doubt this was just one purpose of Esther’s life. I find it hard to believe that the rest of life prior to and following these events were without purpose.
The focus of your purpose will shift and change like the seasons. What might God be calling you to do right now that you have never been called to do before? Perhaps, you are in a new season of purpose.
MYTH #4 Your Purpose is an ideal destination
We’ve all seen coming of age movies where someone discovers that they have some great purpose, usually that will save the day. While they may go through hardship, they always arrive. They always complete their mission and everything’s well and good after that. Life becomes ideal. This is a half-truth. Knowing your purpose is definitely loaded with life-enhancing benefits. (See my article on the Nine Benefits of Knowing Your Purpose to learn what those are.) However, our coming of age archetypal stories shape us to believe that purpose is something we achieve, rather than a process we live in that’s ongoing. They also shapes us to believe that if life is challenging then perhaps we haven’t found our purpose.
On the contrary, many people in the Bible were true to God calling them and lived in painful limbo. Jeremiah was a prophet who was quite faithful to God and yet, he seemed to constantly go from the frying pan into the fire. Paul was one of the most prolific disciple makers and yet he went through shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonment. Resist thinking that you must not be living out your purpose if life isn’t rosy.
MYTH #5 You haven’t already found your purpose
Many people are already living at the heart of who God made them to be. They are living with great and amazing purposefulness, but they don’t feel they are because of the myths stated above. Consequently, they fool themselves into believing they aren’t already in their purpose. But what if they are?
For example, I mentored a Human Resource director in recognizing her purpose and she discovered she was already living it out. Her primary purpose (one of her meta purpose themes) of her life was that she helped people in distress get resources they needed. She could pull together resources and bring comfort and calm to people rapidly. Fulfilling her purpose was obvious in her Human Resources role. Unfortunately, she didn’t realizes she was quite successfully living out her purpose at home too. For example, if a neighbor needed chemo, but didn’t know who would watch her daughter while she received treatment, then the woman I mentored was quick to find a sitter and would gladly drive the friend to her chemo.
Once she realized that she was actually living out her purpose on a regular basis at home, two big shifts occurred:
- She let go of the restlessness and stress of believing that her purpose was some big thing out there she hadn’t found yet.
- She celebrated and immersed herself in what she was already doing in a way that was tremendously life giving.
How might you already be living in your purpose, but not seeing it because of the first four myths.
The Five Deadly Myths that will Prevent You From Finding Your Purpose are:
- Your purpose must be epic, big, and flashy
- Your purpose is singular
- Your purpose never changes
- Your purpose is an ideal destination
- That you haven’t already found your purpose
What about your purpose?
So what is your purpose or should I say purpose(s)? Don’t know? Join me in the 5-Day Purpose Challenge starting Monday, May 29 and find out. Each day you will receive easy exercises revealing critical components of your purpose. The exercises will just take a few minutes. By the fourth day you’ll hold in your hand a written statement of purpose that stirs your heart and is actionable. I’ll also offer live training during the challenge.
Are you ready to discovery your purpose? Just click the button below to sign-up for the 5-Day Challenge.
Click Here to Join the Challenge