Embracing Purpose: What Should I Be Doing with My Life?

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear as a pastor is, “What should I be doing with my life”? I have yet to meet a person that, at least at some point in their lives, has not struggled with that question. Of course, the question is easy to answer and impossible to answer all at the same time. On one hand, our purpose as humans made in the image of God is not so much “discovered” as it is “embraced”. Biblically speaking, our purpose, assigned by God, is to glorify Him. Specifically, the purpose of all of creation is to show that Jesus is better. (Colossians 1:15-18) Go deeper than that, and the Biblical truth’s about our ultimate purpose are summarized in the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q: What is the chief end of man? 

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Ok. Glorify God. Enjoy God. Got it.

But what about this possible career change? What about this nagging feeling that I am not doing what I was put on earth to do? What about a possible change in educational pursuits? These are the kinds of honest, worthy questions that I help people wrestle with all of the time. It is only natural. Once we embrace that we are placed on this planet for a short time to glorify God, the most logical question to ask next is: How can I glorify God the most with my life?

In his excellent new book “Master of One: Find and Focus on What You Were Created to Do” Jordan Raynor recommends asking yourself 3 questions to help bring clarity as you discern life direction.

Question 1: What am I passionate about? 

“More often than not, passions and preexisting interests serve as signposts pointing the way to the work we are uniquely gifted to do”. p.64

“…God has created each of us with certain passions and interests and understanding them can be incredibly useful in identifying clues as to which work we might do exceptionally well and that is ultimately what we are looking for: the one thing we can do most extraordinarily well for God’s glory and the good of others.”. p.65

While Raynor highlights the key role passion plays in our life pursuits, he is also quick to point out that passion is not enough. Passion provides directional clarity, but ultimately cannot sustain long-term fulfillment? Why? Because passions wane and deceive. I have a passion for preaching, but I have endured long(ish) seasons where my passion for preaching has waned. There is a myriad of reasons why passions brighten and dim over time. As you pursue direction, start with what you love to do…but don’t stop there.

Question 2: What gifts has God given me? 

Romans 12:6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

Gifts are sovereignly distributed by God. There are so many things I wish I was good at that I am not. Embracing God has ordained that I possess the gifts and talents that I have is a liberating truth. Believing this truth keeps us from discouragement and despair as we seek to spend our lives do the most good for our neighbors. The truth is, in order to do the most good for my neighbor, I must spend the most amount of time possible doing what I am best at. Giftedness, in this instance, trumps passions.

‘If you are looking for work you can be passionate about over a long period of time, spend less time worrying about your pre-existing passions and much more time figuring out which work you’re disproportionately gifted at. Rather than focusing primarily on your happiness, focus on finding work you can do to be of most value to others”. p.67

Question 3: Where do I have the most opportunity to glorify God and serve others?

“…When searching for opprountites that marry our passions and gifts we ought to choose work that is sustainable, productive and useful to our neighbors. In other words, our one thing ought to be where our passions and gifts collide with the greatest opprounity to love and serve others through masterful work”. p.70

What you should be doing should be considered through the lenses of where God has currently placed you. Passions and giftings typically emerge wherever you already are. But how can we know we do are doing what God has gifted us to do, where He is calling us to do it? We lean into Christian community. God affirms giftings and focuses passions through the local church. Ask yourself this question: What are the gifts that seem to bless others? In what areas I am being affirmed by those around me? So many of the gifts used by Christians vocationally can be affirmed through service in the local church.

Listen and lean in.

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