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.
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.
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.
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.
Nicole Unice is the author of ÒBrave Enough: Getting Over our Fears, Flaws and Failures to Live Bold and Free.Ó (Tyndale, 2015) and travels frequently enough to almost feel like she can fly. Find out more at nicoleunice.com