May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose [Psalm 20:4].
At some time in our lives, we all struggle with identifying, then following, God’s purpose. After all, it involves two basic, unnerving questions: Who am I and why am I here?
In our quest for answers, everyone weighs in with differing opinions about the complexity and enormity of determining something like “purpose.” However, this search for significance may not be as complicated as we make it. Finding answers may be as simple as spending some quality time with our Creator. After all, He made us, so it stands to reason that He would have the answers to our questions.
Identity, Worth, and Purpose
The first discovery on our quest: always derive our identity, self-worth, and affirmation from God. He gave us His unchanging Word in which He describes how He made us in His image. Furthermore, He identifies the incredible worth He places on each person. Finally, He reveals His loving that enabled reconciliation with Him after our fall into sin. Only in this context can we find and understand life purpose.
The word purpose means the intended reason for which something or someone exists or was made. It is the expected result. For example, when I mix the ingredients for a cake and place it in the oven, I expect to enjoy a delicious cake. If the cake had a mind with reasoning capabilities, it might wonder, “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s up with being round? Why is it so hot in here?”
If I could speak cake, I could explain to my new round friend that it was the product of several ingredients I mixed together. I foresaw its end result of being a cake, cakes come in all sizes (but I wanted this specific one to be round), and that the heat of the oven was the process by which it would become a cake. As the cake’s creator, I could answer its questions for purpose and significance. Yes, this may be an overly simplistic comparison because life is complex and humans are uniquely designed where nothing is simple and no two are alike.
That said, there remain some basic common denominators that help propel us on our search for purpose. For us greater-than-cake human beings, life purpose is identified by pursuing three simple, yet defining, questions. They lead us to: know who we are, determine why we were created, and identify where we fit in.
Who Are You?
Until you know who you are, how will you ever know what or who you need in your life?
Answering this question involves discovering all you can about yourself. Various tools and methods help accomplish this self-discovery. Spiritual gift tests. Personality tests. Love languages tests. Emotional equivalency tests. You can determine your quirks, idiosyncrasies, or special passions and preferences. Also, you can delve into your family’s genetic predisposition. As you discover things, write them down and research them. For example, if your personality type is ISTJ, what does that mean? If your love language is Words of Affirmation, how does that impact your communication style?
In addition, Mark 12:30 says to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. There is nothing partial or halfhearted about the word all. To love in these four aspects, determine your passion and maturity level spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. What are your weaknesses and strengths in each aspect? How can you develop new skills in each?
Invest in yourself by answering some critical questions. “Who am I? What am I good at doing? Which activities do I enjoy? What are my career goals? How can I use my talents? Can I write, speak, sing, fix things, teach, lead, coach, cook, run, serve others, etc.? Am I an introvert or an extrovert? Do I consider myself passive or passionate? People person or loner? Early bird or night owl?”
Why Were You Created?
Along with finding out who you are, also identify what makes you a unique creation of God. What spiritual gifts, talents, personality traits, passions, dreams, desires, and aspirations has God given you? Please understand, there are no mistakes or random occurrences with our sovereign God. He had you in mind before the Creation (Ephesians 1:4). God crowned you with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5) and has a specific purpose for you to fulfill (Jeremiah 29:11).
To help identify your uniqueness, what burden has He laid on your heart? Work with kids, be a missionary, sculpt things, build bridges, drive racecars—what is that one thing that burns within you? It’s there; keep probing, asking, and discovering until you find it. Obviously, there is a reality check here. God won’t give you a desire to do something for which He has not gifted you. For example, I may have a burning desire to be an opera singer. However, that is not a talent God has given me.
You owe it to yourself to find out why God created you. You’re not a mistake; you are intentional. God knows why He created you—ask Him. He is willing to give you the wisdom you need (James 1:5).
Where Do You Fit In?
After discovering who you are and what God has created you to be, a 3-D view of yourself begins to emerge. This perspective helps answer the where question of your journey. Sometimes people feel lost or out of place because they are not where God wants them. At times, He makes the where very clear, while mostly He leaves it to us to find our “niche.” But He definitely has a place and function for everyone in the body of His Church (Ephesians 2:10, 19-22).
Whatever place He has for you will undoubtedly coincide with your skills, gifts, talents, dreams, and goals. For example, someone who likes engineering will most likely gravitate to building things. A shy, monotone loner will probably not be best suited as a motivational speaker.
Keep in mind, the where includes more than career choice. It also involves all the where’s of your life—place of worship, residence, what school God wants your kids to attend, where to serve Him, and with whom to walk through life each day. In the pursuit of the where, guard against a lack of curiosity or even impatience with God that may prompt you to go where you have no business being. For example, I find many singles who get disillusioned with the “available pool” within their church’s singles group so they start visiting the local bars and social establishments to hang out and meet “different” people.
What I know to be true is that fully trusting God’s sovereignty is to rely on Him to show me where I am supposed to be. When I am not where God wants me to be, He won’t bless me. But when I find the “sweet spot” where He intends me to be, ah, now He can bless me.
Before investing any more time or energy searching for personal fulfillment and significance from outside sources, I encourage you to internalize your who, what, and where. Discover how you fit into this huge opportunity God has given us called life. The process may not sound like fun. But ultimately, it is the most effective path to becoming who God created you to be and fulfilling your designed role in the specific place He has for you.
Be who God created you to be. Do what God made you to do. And do it in the place He has intended for you. Then trust Him to sovereignly bring whoever and whatever you need into your life. Discover and prepare yourself fully. Then be amazed at what God does with and through you in fulfilling His purpose for you.