Purpose. We use this word in so many different ways. We desire to know a purpose for our lives.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” If you are like millions of others you probably have asked that question at some point in your life.
So many of us are curious about our purpose mainly because of one of our three greatest needs in life, the need to have worth. In other words, we want to not only be reassured that we have value in our lives, but we also desire to know how that value should be lived out. We want to know that we mattered and made a difference in our years here on earth. No matter how focused we are in wanted to know our purpose we all desire to know that we matter and have worth.
Often we will search out self-help books, find 4-step programs or attend lectures to find out the formula to our potential, passion and purpose. I am certainly not downing any of those venues. However, I am suggesting an alternative and a different way of thinking about the word purpose in reference to your life.
Most times we define purpose as a goal or something that we will obtain or possess at some point in our lives. We believe that once we know what our purpose is then we can start doing that thing. Many spend a lifetime trying to find their purpose or guess that special “thing” that God is desiring them to do while on earth. (That special thing is called, “A Calling” which is different than purpose. We will talk about that in a different post)
I would like to challenge that. Instead of thinking of your purpose as a thing to find, try thinking of purpose as something you are. Purposes can be lived out daily. Unlike calling, it is not the “thing” or specific path but something that is lived out through you for the sake of others than brings meaning and value to your life. Instead of saying, I’m trying to find out what my purpose is, better to say, “My purpose is being lived out through me.” Make sense?
Let me explain further.
I am an encourager. For years I have studied and read everything I could get my hands on regarding the area of encouragement. I’ve studied the life of Barnabas from the bible. I know the Hebrew meaning and studied the word in different languages. I have done surveys, written papers, done research, talked with psychologists and others. I have the gift of encouragement. I can talk for hours about the difference between encouragement versus words like motivation, compliment, influence, self-help, positive thinking, pity, etc. I know pretty much everything about encouragement. Being an encourager is who I am. Even when I am going through struggles and hardships, my first thought is how my experiences and learning in that moment can be used to encourage others. That is all well and fine but to me that only means that I am considered an expert in the area of encouragement and that encouragement is a God-given gift, it really says nothing about my purpose.
How does my gift of encouragement align with purpose? My purpose through encouragement happens through my passions (using the definition “an action that is given for someone else”) which is writing, speaking, motivating, teaching. I live out my purpose, by picking up phone, starting a conversation, sending an email, blogging, etc. to offer encouragement to add value in someone’s life. Often the person will reply with, “Those were exactly the words I needed to hear today because of the situation I am in” and begin to share about their life (which I love). To me that also confirms that my encouragement is a gift from God because I rarely know anything that is happening in people’s lives. Amazing opportunities have not happened for me because I’m so wonderful or the best writer or speaker. I’m simply walking out my purpose (of course doing the things I need to do practically) through encouragement.
Purpose takes place when we live out who we are for the benefit of others. That is the ultimate desire we have in finding meaning for our lives and fulfilling a longing that our lives mattered in the bigger picture. The key for each person is to find out “HOW” their purpose is to be served. What is that part of you that everything else springs out of? It certainly is not just one aspect, it can be many.
Remember, we are talking about purpose, not calling!
I said all that to get to say this, in seeking out your purpose ask yourself the following questions:
1) What thing is attached to who you are? (Hint: It will always be others centered always. Things like dancing, teaching, preaching, etc would be passions, the way in which you live out your purpose. Think in terms of who you are. This will be a very hard question to answer for some. Ask others around you. )
2) What thing for others have you been doing, regardless of the ways, for as long as you can remember?
3) What thing do you continue to hear people attach to you (“You’re a motivator, “You’re a visionary”, “You’re a peace maker”, “You’re an impactor, “You’re an administrator”, “You’re an athlete”, etc.)
4) What thing do you do, that when you do a) you feel God’s pleasure, b)lives are changes, c) people are motivated and positively impacted, and/or d)you do without even trying?
Start by asking yourself those questions. That will take you a long way in discovering your purpose and direction.
As you ponder the question think in the following term:
What gift do I believe I have been given to use in my everyday life to impact the life of another person? The key will be #4
Be encouraged, it’s a journey not a destination.
Copyright © 2016 by Charlotte D. Hunt All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without written permission from the author except for brief quotations in printed reviews.