The word of the season seems to be ‘purpose’. I guess the obsession is understandable for this time of year, as many use the first couple of months to set goals and plan the rest of their year.
I’ve heard so many…
‘I need to walk in my purpose’, ‘I need to find my purpose’, ’I’m quitting my job to live my purpose’, ‘what is your purpose, and are you walking in it?’
These questions sometimes make me cringe or roll my eyes. Reason being, is the trending nature in which these purpose fuelled conversations are discussed.
Quick disclaimer: Purpose is important. Knowing your calling, identifying and using your gifts and talents are all vital parts of our existence. I strongly believe it is important to live a purposeful and fulfilling life to the glory of God.
My issue lies in this unrelenting quest to discover ‘purpose’. Some are so bent on discovering their ‘purpose’, they’re no longer living life, as this pursuit has positioned itself as their biggest if not only mission in life.
I also hear bold talks of giving up day jobs to ‘pursue purpose’.
Call me a cynic, I honestly believe many have not actually realised their purpose and are quitting jobs and assignments to follow their own dreams or desires. I do not necessarily disagree with this, but when I think of ‘purpose’, I consider it to be far greater than personal wants or desires, there is a bigger picture which I’ll touch on in more detail later. There are some extreme cases where people follow trends and disguise it as ‘pursuing purpose’, which is too dangerous and unfulfilling game to be playing.
What exactly is your purpose?
Do you have to know what your purpose is?
How do I fulfil my purpose?
How do I know if I’m in my purpose?
I recall my pastor’s commentary on purpose at a young adults meeting, he frankly started that purpose is something only revealed by The Creator.
He asked us to think about what we would do with a product we were not sure of its use.
He answered, ‘you would probably refer to the manual’.
Because it has a description of what the product is, how it should be used, and step by step instructions on how to use it. Using our intuition and instincts to piece the product together will probably result in mis-use or even complete damage. Hence the importance of the manual, it is essential for proper and maximum use. I believe this same principle should be applied to us.
To live a full, life of purpose, to understand our purpose; what we were created for and how to properly utilise our skills, gifts and abilities we need to refer to our Manual.
But, this is a step we often skip, as we tend to head straight over to ‘in-use’ mode. Then when things start creaking or playing up we begin the hunt for the instructions. At this point you would think we would refer to ‘The Manual’, nope, most would rather refer to a quick read because of that very reason –it’s quick; there’s no need to take time to understand, a quick glance and you get the gist and off again to in-use mode.
We rush to sign up for conferences, seminars, talks and the likes, to get understanding of what our purpose is. We begin looking for answers that can really only be provided by The One who created us.
Do not misunderstand me; I believe attending conferences, seminars, workshops are great. Having mentors, coaches, teachers are all really important, but they cannot give us the specific answers we need for our lives, only God can.
If we look at Samuel for example, who called out to him? God.
Only God knew exactly the reason and purpose for which He called Samuel.
Eli functioning in the capacity of a mentor was able to guide him towards acknowledging the voice of God. Eli did NOT act as an intermediary and get Samuels purpose downloaded from God and then transfer it to him. Nope, being someone who was experienced in the office of a priest and having the understanding that God speaks to His people, he was able to share this knowledge with Samuel, so Samuel could respond. It was God who called Samuel; Samuel had the responsibility of responding and listening to what God had to say (see 1 Samuel 3 for the full story).
This is how we should see our mentors, coaches and teachers. Most of them have walked the road we intend to, thus more experienced in particular areas. They lend their knowledge and expertise to help and nurture us in these areas. They are to help us identify areas of strengths and improvement so we can fulfil that calling. But they cannot tell you what your purpose is; only The One who created you knows the specific reason for creating you. Only He knows exactly what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.
If you do not know what your purpose is, that’s fine (for now). I would advise spending quality time talking to your Creator, inquiring of Him.
We need to break this ‘I need to know now and do right now’ frame of mind. We cheat ourselves of n developing a deep relationship with our Creator, cultivating our character, honing our gifts and skills because of this need to obtain quick answers and results.
We are told:
For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
This road is wide to accommodate the multitude that travel through and fit the plethora of glossy and well manicured tips and suggestions to live life. We know from this scripture that this attractive wide road only leads to destruction.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The truth is spending quality time seeking God is not always fun and glamorous. But the narrow road is narrow for that reason, it is tight, it squeezes out of us the excesses of life contaminated by sin. It is sometimes hard; this moulds us, shaping us to be more like Christ. It is narrow because not many choose to journey through, and not all who choose this path make it all the way to the end.
To find your purpose you need to get yourself into His presence, spend time in The Word, engage in dialogue that means pray, wait and listen. This will probably give you the answers you need and provide the clarity and revelation you so desperately seek.
On a practical note, be diligent. We need to learn to consistently put our best foot forward.
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. He will not stand in the presence of unknown men.
Learn to be content in whatever season of life you’re in, this does not mean settling or burying ambition. It means to be okay with where you are now and who you are, trusting God has got you and:
[..]know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28).
Meditate on this scripture and live it!
Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men
Do not be fooled, this dream that the world and social media is selling about purpose, is not all glamorous. I believe whatever your purpose or calling it is beyond you. It is to be used for God and to serve humanity. Therefore, whatever you are doing now, wherever you are now, whatever season you’re in; it’s a purposeful season to serve God, serve others and develop yourself in preparation for the next stage.
In truth and with love,