path purpose

The Path to Purpose: Discovering Why You’re Here

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One of the greatest questions in life is “Why?” As human beings, we’re hard-wired to want to know the reasons.

Why did they do that?

Why are these things happening?

Why would God allow this?

The list goes on and on, but one of the most profound and perplexing why’s is one that we’ll all eventually ask ourselves if we haven’t already—Why am I here?

It’s not always easy to pinpoint your personal purpose, but when you’re trying to find out what something is, a great place to start is by looking at what it isn’t. This process of elimination can at least get some of the “obviously nots” off the board and help us focus a little better.

For one thing, your purpose isn’t pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with it in its place, but it can become all-consuming if you’re not careful. You have to remember that pleasure in life is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Paul reminds us that the person who lives for pleasure while ignoring God’s will is like the walking dead (1 Timothy 5:6). The lights are on, but nobody’s home because the Spirit of God has been evicted.

And purpose isn’t found in pursuits or possessions, either. The drive to accomplish and to attain is an admirable God-given quality that should be encouraged and cultivated. But achieving goals and acquiring things also have to be kept in perspective. Solomon helps us with this in the book of Ecclesiastes. While encouraging us to enjoy the fruit of our labor, he also offers the sobering reminder that the greatest endeavors and the biggest collections all amount to chasing after the wind.

We already know this as believers (although we do need a tune-up every now and then). We even know that, ultimately, our purpose is to walk with God. In the big picture, we’re all here to honor Him with our faith and enjoy His fellowship. But that’s the general “why”—that doesn’t really help with the specific “why.”

See, what we really wrestle with is finding our own unique, personal purpose. We wrestle with nailing down exactly what it is we’re supposed to be doing as individuals in this world.

Now, there’s no quick answer anyone can give you as to why you’re here. It’s a process of discovery, usually a longer one than you want it to be. But when this question comes up, I usually offer a simple formula as a starting point and a touchstone to keep coming back to as the journey unfolds.

You’ll find your purpose at the intersection of your passion and your giftedness.

First of all, what excites you? What’s the thing that keeps you up late and wakes you up early? The thing that you love to do, the thing that brings energy to your spirit whenever you get to do it or whenever the topic comes up? What’s that thing that you’d do every day if you could, and you wouldn’t even have to be paid to do it? That’s your passion.

Secondly, what are you actually good at (or getting better at as you learn, practice, and train)? What are your God-given strengths as a human being? What’s the thing that, even from a young age, people were always saying you had a knack for? That’s your gift.

Now the key word is “intersection.” I believe that your calling—your divine purpose—lies at the point where those two things meet.

See, you can be really passionate about something that, honestly, you’re just not equipped for. I LOVE football and basketball, but at 5’5″ on a tall day and 155 pounds on a heavy day, I’ve had to accept that professional athletics isn’t my calling. And you can even be really excited about something that, quite frankly, you stink at. I LOVE comic books and, from very early on, I was enthralled with the art of superheroes. I even used to try to draw, but…well, let’s just say there’s a reason I gravitated toward writing.

On the other hand, you can be great at something that you couldn’t care less about. We all know that person who’s very gifted in a given field, but it’s the last thing they want to do. It frustrates us that they won’t go all in on it because we see how great they could be. But the truth is, it just doesn’t move them. It doesn’t stir up anything inside.

So I think you need both. You need to be looking for that sweet spot where your skill lines up with your joy.

Many people make the mistake of picking just one of those streets to go down. They ride and ride and ride down one road—either the passion or the giftedness—but never seem to come to a place of fulfillment or success. Some of us let those around us push us down a path that we really don’t want to be on. To keep someone else happy, we’ll go miles and miles down a road that God never intended for us to travel.

If you’re still searching for your personal purpose, block out the rest of the world. Ignore what “everyone else” is doing, and ignore what everybody around you wants you to do. Be intentional about seeking the Lord on this thing. Pray. Fast. Sit still with Him and listen. Then be honest about your gifts. Take a good look at what you’re good at…and what you’re not so good at. Finally, start to tune into your heart. What’s it longing for? What’s been stirring in your spirit for a while now?

It may take some searching, but eventually you’ll find the place you were put here to fill.


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2 Responses

  1. Amber C
    | Reply

    Eye opening!

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