A sense of purpose is central to a productive, joy-filled life. Statistical research even shows people with a stronger sense of purpose live longer than those who feel aimless. So, what if you're feeling lost and unsure of what you're meant to do with your life? In this guide, we'll discuss some practical ways you can discover your God-given purpose and start living in that.
Signs You Aren't Living in God's Purpose
We all experience discouragement and self-doubt from time to time. Having low spirits occasionally doesn't necessarily mean you aren't living in God's purpose. It's more helpful to think about the overall patterns that characterize your life and your mindset. Some signs you aren't fulfilling your God-given purpose are:
1. Life Feels Like Drudgery
Do you wake up dreading the day ahead? Life can be full of mundane tasks, and no one expects you to get excited for doing the laundry or taking out the trash. We all like to escape from our responsibilities at times, but you may feel on a daily basis like your life is nothing but drudgery.
If this is the case, you're not living in the joy and fulfillment you should feel when you're living out your God-given purpose. When you're living a spiritually fulfilling life, even the most mundane tasks become more meaningful. That's because you know that everything you do is for the glory of God and part of a greater calling.
2. You're Complacent With Sin
Another sign you're not living in God's purpose is if you've become comfortable with sin in your life. Becoming a Christian does not mean you suddenly become sin-free, but it should mean you have the motivation and the power to fight sin in your life and strive for holiness.
If you're embracing sin rather than rejecting it, it's time to make a major change in your life. 1 Corinthians 15:34 puts it bluntly: "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning." The Bible makes no bones about it — Christians should work to root out sin in their lives and put on the righteousness of Christ.
3. You Don't Have Hope for the Future
Are you excited for the future? Do you have hope for the things God will do in your life? If not, you're probably not living out your God-given purpose. Some people think of hopefulness as foolish optimism that you'll finally start using your juicer or that you'll pick the perfect fantasy football lineup, but being hopeful is so much more.
When you trust God with your future, there are plenty of reasons to get excited. Christians should be forward-thinkers. Your ultimate hope is for the day you get to see your Savior face-to-face and enjoy Heaven. You should also have hope for your future on earth, that you'll learn, grow, and contribute great things to the world or the people around you.
4. You Feel Aimless
Another sign to look out for is feeling aimless. Do you lack direction in your life or the drive to move forward? Maybe you feel like you're just spinning your wheels and not really getting anywhere. If you feel like you're stuck or you're wandering with no real goals or destination in mind, then you are sure to wonder what all your daily work is for.
When you're fulfilling your purpose, you shouldn't feel like you're merely drifting through life. Instead, you should know what goals you're working toward, and these goals will motivate you every day.
Fulfilling God's Purpose for Your Life
So, what does it mean to fulfill God's purpose in your life? The three best ways to discover the purpose God has for you are:
- Immersing yourself in the Word: Can you imagine having an inbox full of unread messages from a friend and complaining that you never hear from them? That's what we can sound like when we lament not hearing from God while our Bible is collecting dust on a shelf. If you want to learn about your God-given purpose, a great place to start is to read your Bible.
- Praying for direction: Prayer is another great way we can discover and fulfill our God-given purpose. The Bible tells us to ask God for what we need, so when you need direction, ask God for it in prayer. Along with reading your Bible, prayer can provide valuable insight to help you find your God-given purpose and help you live in that purpose every day.
- Drawing on your God-given passions: God has given each of us special talents and interests. Part of fulfilling God's purpose for your life is finding ways to draw on these passions to give the world something only you can. How has God gifted you? Find ways to use these gifts to lead a purposeful life.
What Does the Bible Say?
When you immerse yourself in the Word, you'll see your priorities aligning with God's priorities and gain the sense of purpose you've been missing. You may also discover some changes you need to make in your life to live more fully in God's will. Read God's Word and ask yourself, "What is our purpose in life as humans?" Then, make it more personal by asking, "What does the Bible say about my purpose in life?"
The Bible isn't just an important historical document or an interesting story. It's full of life-giving truth we can use to find direction and fulfill our purpose. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."
The overarching message the Bible tells us is that our purpose is to bring glory to our Heavenly Father. We do that by worshiping Him, living our lives as an offering to Him, and sharing the Gospel with those around us. His purpose becomes our purpose.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." It's key to remember that God's purpose is what matters most in our lives. In 2 Timothy, Paul says, "He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."
We know from Scripture that we can trust God to make good on His promises and fulfill His purpose in our lives. We only need to trust Him and live our lives according to His will. As you read the Bible to learn more about God's will for your life, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and ears to understand what you're reading.
What Have You Heard in Prayer?
Prayer is another important way we can hear from God about his will for our lives. Prayer gives us a direct line of communication with God, so why not take advantage of that amazing opportunity we've been given?
Praying for insight about your purpose is especially helpful when it comes to figuring out more personal aspects of your purpose, like what vocation or activities God is calling you to. James says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
Have you ever heard someone say they felt God was calling them to do something? It's likely they felt this calling during a time of prayer. Whether God is calling you to move across the world to be a missionary or simply to send an encouraging text message to a friend at church, listening for His direction in prayer is one of the best ways you can be in touch with those callings.
Of course, this requires us to really listen, which can be hard to do in a world full of distractions. If you're feeling distracted during prayer, and especially if you're trying to make a big decision in your life, you may want to set aside a large chunk of time to do nothing but pray and meditate on God's Word. Maybe you need to go on a weekend retreat or get up early in the morning for a longer devotion time.
Ask God to reveal His purposes for your life and steer you in the direction He wants you to go. You may discover a calling on your life that gives you that sense of purpose you've been missing. Or, God may remind you of how what you're doing now matters, so you can experience a renewed sense of motivation in your life.
What Are Your Passions?
Romans 12:6 tells us, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." You can look around at the people you know and quickly confirm this is true. It's usually easier for us to see others' talents than our own, but don't forget to consider the ways God has gifted you.
Whether you share God's love through the most amazing chocolate cake, stunning photography, a heart for hospitality, clear teaching, wise counsel or humor that keeps everyone laughing, you have a unique role to play in your community. 1 Peter 4:10 says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."
If you're wondering how to find your God-given talent, first, ask God to reveal it to you. It can also be helpful, though, to ask your friends and family to share what they see as your true passions in life and the special talents you have. You may be surprised by their answers. Maybe they've seen your eyes light up when you're engaging in a certain type of activity.
Once you know what your personal passions are, find out how you can draw on those to fulfill God's purpose for your life. For example, if you're great with kids, why not volunteer to help teach children at your church or babysit to give parents a much-needed date night? If you have a passion for writing, maybe God's calling you to write a book or a blog about your life that will give Him the glory.
While the Bible tells us a lot about the purpose we all share as humans, it's also important to consider how you personally fit into this framework. As we've seen, every person has their own unique way they can serve God and others. When you embrace your God-given passions, you'll discover an enthusiasm for life you may not have experienced before.
Live in God's Will
It's not enough just to know what your purpose is — You have to embrace that purpose. That means surrendering yourself to God and letting Him direct your path. That may make you afraid that you'll lose control and feel adrift. However, the more you hand over the reins to God, the more you'll feel a sense of purpose and direction in your life.
When you're open to following God's will, you'll discover a renewed zest for life. Your priorities will be more in line with God's, and you'll trust Him to work everything in your life together for your good, just like He says He will. This doesn't mean you'll wake up each morning with a spring in your step and will be able to throw out your coffee maker. Life can still get difficult at times, but at least you'll know that difficulty has a purpose.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you, [...] plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." You are not insignificant to God. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He knows what He's designed you for. So, read His Word, pray, and pay attention to the gifts he's given you. Then, you can start living more fully in His will for your life.
Find Hope and Purpose at Cornerstone
God created us to live in community with each other, so if you're trying to go it alone, that may be part of why you feel unfulfilled. If you live in the Bay area and are looking for a sincere body of believers to join, come visit us at Cornerstone.
Come share your unique gifting and God-given purpose with our church family, and experience the love and acceptance you've been longing for. We'll work together to strive toward living a life that's more and more defined by God's purposes.