Can You Actually Know God’s Purpose for Your Life?

Why finding your divine purpose doesn't have to be a complicated mystery.

Do you spend much time wondering (or worrying) about what career or purpose is right for your life? I’ve lost sleep over the same topic, constantly returning to this question:

Am I wasting my life in this (job, relationship, church, etc.)?

Most of us are deeply concerned with living meaningful, purposeful lives, and we spend a lot of energy trying to figure out if we are doing it. We want to know what God wants for our lives, and we want to know today!

Unfortunately, our overarching purpose in life seems to have little to do with our circumstances. God's “mission statement,” of sorts, for our life doesn’t include a job title, graduate school—well, not directly.

It never starts with circumstances. It starts with His heart for all people.

God's Purpose for Your Life

So, drumroll—here it is: “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

When we commit our lives to Jesus, we commit to an enduring, lifelong mission. We commit to a life of speaking, acting, thinking and relating out the transforming and joyful experience of being in a relationship with Christ. That’s it. Wherever you are, whatever you do, whether you think it’s the best fit or worst job ever—God wants you to live out His mission.

The purpose for your life—the deepest place where you find meaning and satisfaction—transcends any role, job or circumstance you are facing. When Jesus walked the earth, He blew up everyone’s paradigm on what it means to be purposeful and powerful.

He sent angels to the guys working the dead-end jobs.

He held up kids in front of the celebrity pastors of the day and told them they should get acquainted with their own childlikeness if they wanted to find the Kingdom.

He took the shadiest characters and cast-offs and made them powerful in His plan.

Yet we all worry that our jobs aren’t meaningful enough and our work doesn’t fulfill us—and we want God to change that, like, yesterday.

Trading In Our Cheap Version of God's Will

It’s easy for us to fall into a version of Christianity that believes, without saying it, that God is supposed to make our lives go well, that His will is for us to get what we want. We have a picture of what we want our lives to be, and we fall into a rut of believing that God’s job is to make our pictures become reality.

This is absolutely not the biblical picture of life with God, but a cheap version, a fake copy grown out of our self- centeredness. Here’s a progression of how this version usually develops:

  • God saved me and offers me life and forgiveness.
  • This must mean that God wants my life to be happy and go the way I envision it.
  • If hard things happen to me, this makes me question if God is reliable.
  • If my life picture is not coming true, it must mean that either God is punishing me or He is not who I thought He was.
  • If a tragedy happens in my life, it must mean that God is either incapable or unloving. Either He was not capable of stopping it—which means I now have a crisis of faith—or He doesn’t love me (or is punishing me or cursing me), which gives me a crisis of heart.

Ultimately, without knowing it, this form of belief means that my picture of my life is the highest object of my devotion and that God is supposed to serve me and make my picture come true.

This version of Christianity is, first, not Christianity at all. It is like comparing an aged wine to a Hi-C juice box. The two may look somewhat the same and be derived from the same fruit (or “artificial fruit flavor”), but there is no comparison.

Beyond Circumstances

Living with this “make me happy” god is destructive to our joy and freedom in Christ. If we are constantly bound to the circumstances we believe we need in order to be joyful, we have become the Lord of our own life—believing our destiny is in our own hands.

God seems to care very little about our circumstances or roles when it comes to His overarching purpose for our life.

This creates a paralyzing insecurity that traps most of us in enslaving fear. No wonder we are so worried about wasting our lives—we are so busy trying to know God’s plans that we are distracted from living them out today.

You Might Also Like

If you can relate, take heart! Most of us can. But God’s ultimate mission statement for our lives doesn’t mean He won’t work to orchestrate relationships and circumstances—and yes, even jobs—that allow us to have productive and meaningful experiences. It’s when we make those things the highest object of our devotion that we lose sight of what’s really important.

When we turn from our own ideas and commit our daily lives to His mission, we begin to walk more in step with Him. We take the humble posture of believing that God has us where we are for a reason. Even as we take steps or work toward the next thing, we can keep our hearts present in today. We can ask God to let us be more concerned for His mission and less concerned with Our mission.

And in doing so, we start to see the many ways God will be present, active and engaged with our lives—even if it’s at the drive-thru window.

This article is adapted from Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus.

Top Comments

Garet Becknell

2

Garet Becknell commented…

Wow! This is me right now. I will be finishing my undergrad in May and really have no idea what's next. Lately I've been asking God what my purpose is or "Where do I go from here?" and then I came across this article. I love how God answers even when it's not the answer we expect. Thank you.

Charmant Bba Sengabira Ndereyimana

12

Charmant Bba Sengabira Ndereyimana commented…

Great article. I agree with the author, where he pointed out that God wants you and me to live out His mission.
Rick Warren in his book, Purpose Driven Life, said that Nothing matters more than knowing God’s manifold-purpose for one’s life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing it—not success, wealth, fame, or pleasure. He also said in chapter 3 that Purpose creates order in one’s life. Its limitations, boundaries and essentials. It reduces stress, fatigue and conflict, which comes from attempting to do too much. It establishes a foundation for making proper decisions, for the allocation of time and the use of resources. Purpose-driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule. Purpose-driven individuals will always verify (check) their plans and activities with God’s purpose for their lives. - See more at: http://www.sengabira.com/the-key-to-success-is-not-having-much-money-it-...

10 Comments

Garet Becknell

2

Garet Becknell commented…

Wow! This is me right now. I will be finishing my undergrad in May and really have no idea what's next. Lately I've been asking God what my purpose is or "Where do I go from here?" and then I came across this article. I love how God answers even when it's not the answer we expect. Thank you.

Charmant Bba Sengabira Ndereyimana

12

Charmant Bba Sengabira Ndereyimana commented…

Great article. I agree with the author, where he pointed out that God wants you and me to live out His mission.
Rick Warren in his book, Purpose Driven Life, said that Nothing matters more than knowing God’s manifold-purpose for one’s life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing it—not success, wealth, fame, or pleasure. He also said in chapter 3 that Purpose creates order in one’s life. Its limitations, boundaries and essentials. It reduces stress, fatigue and conflict, which comes from attempting to do too much. It establishes a foundation for making proper decisions, for the allocation of time and the use of resources. Purpose-driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule. Purpose-driven individuals will always verify (check) their plans and activities with God’s purpose for their lives. - See more at: http://www.sengabira.com/the-key-to-success-is-not-having-much-money-it-...

Tom M. Dykhuizen

1

Tom M. Dykhuizen commented…

I keep asking this question without getting a response. Why are all the photos in this magazine of beautiful people (on the outside)?

Sean Quillen

5

Sean Quillen replied to Tom M. Dykhuizen's comment

Some of them are stock photographs from my perspective. Plus it seems that the men/women are what I call, "Camera Pretty". Many models are like this, where they have flatter facial and body structures. But just because they look pretty in a photograph, doesn't mean they are pretty to the naked eye (as a photographer I know plenty of models who have a better appearance in a 2d photograph in comparison to the near 3d image our eyes produce).

Also the photo conveys a message that is meant to relate to the article below. Or it is possibly a bleak reminder that "pretty" people have problems too.

Just remember that while the world thinks some are beautiful, Jesus knows that we are all beautiful.

Bryan Stevenson

5

Bryan Stevenson replied to Sean Quillen's comment

Why? Because good looking people sell magazines. It doesn't bother me though, "I only read Relevant for the articles."

Andrea Alvarado

1

Andrea Alvarado commented…

"Bitterness arises in our hearts when we do not trust in the sovereign rule of God in our lives." - Jerry Bridges. This quotes seems to fit in the Trading our cheap version of God's will section.

Lisa Winn

5

Lisa Winn commented…

I enjoyed your article. I've thought about purpose and believe that it's about loving others and how we treat and serve others that are in need. I think when we try to define "ONE" purpose for our life, we get really confused and frustrated, or at least I have. :) I worried so much about what house or car to buy, what job to take, who should I spend my time with that I realized I was being a bit selfish. My prayers have been selfish, as I only ask God to do for me. But I think it's really what I do for others and how I treat them that is important. God is probably not upset or too concerned if you buy a house, a red car and choose to start your own business. These are only things we acquire overtime and it can be confusing when things, positions, titles start getting mixed in with purpose. If you can afford do do these things and make sure they are acquired in honest, hardworking ways, I think He is ok with that. Although homes, vehicles and jobs are important, as well as who we are around, I believe He is much more concerned with where our heart and thoughts are. Usually we already know what we can afford to do and not do, if we need to make changes in our career and if a person is good for us. It's just about being brutally honest with ourselves. He does have plans for all of us and if we all just keep working hard, honest and stay faithful. We will walk right into it, if we don't give up. I just had these thoughts this morning!!!

Please log in or register to comment

Log In