“What is your purpose?” If I stopped you in the middle of the street and asked you these four words, how confidently would you be able to answer? It is undoubtedly one of the most important questions of all time, yet few of us know how to answer it. But, we all wish we had the answer. Even those who don’t explicitly wonder about their purpose still deeply desire to know why they have been created.
“Why did God make me and place me here? What am I supposed to do with my life?” While scientists, philosophers, and theologians will give you deep and meaningful answers to the question of purpose, I believe the answer is pretty simple. I want to help you discover it.
Truthfully, you can stop me anywhere and ask me what my purpose is, and I would confidently tell you. If you have been racking your brain trying to discover God’s purpose for your life, take a deep breath. By the end of this article you will be able to confidently proclaim God’s purpose for your life.
What is purpose?
First, let’s define what purpose actually is so we’re on the same page. We often use the words purpose, calling, and vocation interchangeably but they are not the same. Purpose is the reason why we were created, calling is an invitation from God to do something specific, and vocation is our career or job.
What is God’s purpose for our lives?
The word purpose simply means intention or plan. While God has many purposes for us, there is only one purpose for which we have been created.
bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.Isaiah 43:6b-7 ESV
Our purpose as human beings is simple: we were made to glorify God. The word “glory” in this context means honor, splendor, and reputation.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27 ESV
God created mankind in his own image. An image is a representation of a person or thing. Images look like the real thing but they are not the real thing. However, when you see an image, you see a clear representation of what the real thing should look like.
As people who bear the image of God, we represent him in the earth. Everything we do should point to his splendor, honor, and great reputation.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
Simply put, regardless of what we do on this earth, we fulfill our purpose by allowing our lives to point to the greatness of God.
How do we fulfill our purpose?
We give God glory by pointing to his splendor, honor, and great reputation.
Each day, we should wake up and ask ourselves, “How can my life point to God today?” It can be as simple as sending a kind message to a friend or getting coffee for your neighbor.
Let’s think about 1 Corinthians 10:31 again. While some things are clearly sinful and forbidden, God gives us many choices. However, we should use our choices to bring God glory.
The Apostle Paul wrote this because of a dispute in the church about meat offered to idols. Gentile Christians didn’t think that meat offered to idols was “unclean,” because they were not the ones doing the offering. However, Jewish Christians believed that handling food previously offered to idols could be seen as second hand idolatry. Paul didn’t believe that eating food offered to idols was sinful because, as he said, an idol is not real. There is no god but God. (1 Corinthians 8:4-13)
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However, for the sake of believers with a “weaker conscience,” he encouraged Christians to abstain from meat offered to idols if they knew it was in fact meat from a sacrifice.
Paul went on to say, “whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.” Essentially he is saying, use discernment when making choices. Does your choice bring glory to God? Then, it is a wise choice. If it does not bring glory to God, it is not a good choice.
Both abstaining and eating could bring glory to God in certain contexts. Our purpose is as simple as what brings God glory.
How do we discover our calling?
Remember that your calling is God’s invitation to do something specific. Calling can be used interchangeably with anointing. Let’s look at David’s calling, or anointing, as king of Israel.
In 1 Samuel 16, God sends Samuel to anoint David as the next King of Israel, replacing Saul who displeased the Lord with his disobedience. David’s calling was very obvious. Samuel sent for him from the field, poured the oil on his head, and anointed him. The Bible says, the Spirit of the Lord was with David from that day on.
Your calling may not be that obvious but here are some principles from David’s calling that I believe applies to all of us as well.
David was working within his vocation as a shepherd when God called him to be king. He did not seek to become king. God sent someone to make him king.
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If you are called to something, the Holy Spirit will make it known to you in time. He may show you through passions he places in your heart, through advice or wise counsel from leaders, family, and friends, or through dreams and visions. You don’t have to try so hard to discover your calling. You simply need to pay attention to the signs and the recurring themes in your life.
- What themes keep coming up?
- What is constantly on your heart?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do other people say you’re good at?
- What do people come to you for help with?
- What inspires you?
Next, God called David to be a king. However, his calling as king was not too far off from his current vocation as shepherd. While your vocation (or career) may seem to have nothing to do with your calling, it could have more to do with it than you imagine. David went from shepherding sheep to shepherding God’s people.
God will often train you for your calling where he has positioned you right now. Glorify God where you are right now, and in doing so, you will be prepared for your calling.
Whether you’re currently in your calling or not, you can fulfill your purpose by living for God where you’re at.
Finally, David was called to be king and returned to working in the field the very same day. He didn’t pack up his bags and go to the palace. Maybe you know what your calling is but you feel frustrated because you’re not walking in it yet. Don’t be frustrated, just continue living for God where you are. He will bring you to the “palace” in his time.
Whether you’re currently in your calling or not, you can fulfill your purpose by honoring God where you’re at. In the palace? Honor God. In the field? Honor God.
Life always comes with challenges, no matter where you are. But if you decide that you will honor God wherever you are, and repent when you fall short, then, congratulations, you are living in your purpose.
How do we fulfill our purpose through walking in our calling?
When we’re confused about God’s purpose for our lives, we’re often actually confused about calling and vocation. Our purpose is to give God glory but our calling and vocation is how we give him glory. What does it look like to give God glory in our calling?
It is possible to be walking in your calling but not in your purpose. That’s a place we don’t want to be since our calling is for our purpose.
If we live for God’s glory, we will always do our calling well.
Let’s take a look at another king of Israel. Solomon was called to be king. However, he strayed from his purpose of glorifying God by marrying foreign women. While he was still in his calling of king, he was no longer living according to purpose.
It’s great to have a calling but let’s remember to put our purpose first. If we live for God’s glory, we will always do our calling well.
God never promised that our calling would be easy or glamorous. It will definitely get difficult at times but despite the challenges, let’s glorify God anyway.
We are human and sometimes we miss the mark. Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s glory.” When we fall short, let’s repent, turn back to God and continue pursuing our purpose.
How do we fulfill our purpose through vocation?
We know that our calling is the work God has chosen us to do. We also know that vocation can be our career or work.
While vocation and calling can be the same, it doesn’t always work that way.
David went back to the field after his calling as king. It took a few years before his calling became his vocation.
However, whether our vocation is the same as our calling or it’s something else, we can fulfill our purpose through it.
Glorify God in your vocation whether you love it or you don’t. Make the most of every season, even the difficult ones. Anywhere God has placed you has purpose right now. Sometimes we can lose sight of the purpose in the present moment by trying too hard to move into our calling. God will get you there when it’s time.
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Maybe you really want to be a business owner but you’re currently an elementary school teacher. Well, serve those kids with everything you have. Even if you never become a business owner, you can still live purposefully. However, if God wants you to be a business owner, it will happen in time.
Don’t skip over this moment. It’s sacred. God can do so much through where you are right now. You don’t have to wait for all your dreams to come true to serve your God-given purpose.
How do we fulfill our purpose in the everyday?
Finally, and I would say most importantly, how do we fulfill our purpose in the everyday? I will draw from a wonderful book I read last year called Own Your Everyday: Overcome the Pressure to Prove and Show Up for What You’re Made to Do to help answer this question.
I believe that the everyday is sacred because it is in the everyday that God reveals his will to us.
Jordan helps us to remember that our purpose is in the everyday. It’s about showing up, trying things, and letting God use the seemingly mundane for his glory. God created you for big things, yes, but he also created you for the day to day.
It’s the everyday that can be most challenging. Even when we know our calling and vocation, the everyday can be tough to navigate. The road to the calling is often the most difficult journey we’ll ever take. But, I believe that the everyday is sacred because it is in the everyday that God reveals his will to us.
Whether you know your calling or you haven’t yet figured it out, commit to serving God in the everyday. I get it, it’s hard when your life looks nothing like the vision God showed you. But, if he showed it to you, that means he’ll do it.
I promise you, if you continue to show up where you are and listen for God’s voice, he will reveal where you are meant to go. No matter what life looks like, commit to glorifying God in the everyday.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. We don’t need to worry about finding our purpose. It is simply to glorify God by pointing to his splendor, honor, and great reputation. Is your life consistently pointing to the truth about God? If not, then it may be time for a re-evaluation. There’s no point in even having a calling if we are not committed to God’s glory. Walk out your purpose in the everyday and it will lead you to your calling. The answer to the big question about life’s purpose is actually pretty simple after all.