Last time I introduced the idea that all Christians have a universal purpose… to become like Christ. (You could also say we have an ultimate purpose to glorify God in everything we say, do and think.) Today we’re going to focus on our unique purpose.
Our Unique Purpose
I think this is what folks really want to know about when they ask the question, “What is my purpose?” Our unique purpose has to do with our CALLING… and with that calling… God gives us gifts and desires… and equips us to serve him in that unique way.
Here’s a brief excerpt of what I shared this past Saturday with some high school graduates at their commencement ceremony on this subject of discovering their calling or purpose…
Ask yourself these questions…
1.) What do you feel called to do?
2.) What is your passion?
3.) What is your gift or talent?
The FIRST question focuses on your calling: What is your inward desire… that “something” that is pulling you in a particular direction? Usually it’s something bigger than you are. It’s not a calling to watch as many football games as possible. It’s something big… something meaningful. It’s usually something that will add value in the lives of others. I believe that God gives us that calling and desires that we pursue it.
The SECOND question focuses on your passion. What excites you? What do you think about? What gets you up in the morning? What do you look forward to? This is important because you don’t want to end up doing something that you’re good at… but that you hate. You don’t want to get to a place in life where you dread getting out of the bed in the morning because you can’t stand the direction your life is heading. You want to live with passion because that passion will fuel you to reach incredible heights.
The THIRD question focuses on talent or giftedness. In other words… what are you good at? You don’t want to end up doing something that you’re really passionate about… but that you’re terrible at doing.
Now, ideally… your calling in life… will combine all three. You will feel this inward desire for a particular direction in life… you’ll love doing it… and you’ll be really great at it. However, it’s important to remind you that you’re not going to discover this overnight. It takes time. It takes careful observation. Talk to your family members about what they’ve seen in your life. Talk with those who know you best. Talk to career counselors. Read books. Pay attention to yourself.
The Apostle Paul was called to life in Christ, just as we all are. However, he also was called with a unique purpose… and that was to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Now, a call in your life doesn’t mean you have to become a pastor or missionary… though it might be for some of you. Instead, here’s another way to think of your call or purpose. I like this definition of purpose from Ken Boa
“A biblical purpose is always an unchanging reason for being. It holds true for you regardless of your circumstances or season of life. When a Christ-centered purpose becomes the focus of your life, it harmonizes all other areas, such as family, work, finances, and ministry.”
You see, God called me to ordained ministry… however, my unique purpose is to help folks become all that God created, redeemed, and called them to be. So, I can live out that purpose in the context of my family at home, with my church family, and lots of other ways. It’s not bound to my “circumstances or season of life.” (I can live out my purpose at 46 years of age… or 86)
The problem of tying your purpose too closely with your circumstances, is that those too easily and quickly change. For example, if your purpose is your work… then what happens when you don’t have that job any longer? Do you still have purpose? If your only purpose is raising your family… then what happens when they leave the house? Do you still have purpose?
Now, certainly, our purpose can be connected closely to our jobs, parenting, etc., but they’re not the same things… or at least shouldn’t be.
So… Do you know your true calling… your unique purpose for your life? Part of my calling and purpose is to help you discover yours and it would be an honor for me to work with you to help you discover it. You may be closer to knowing it than you think. It may be right under your nose.
“Tony Campolo tells the story of a friend who discovered his true calling in life. He had been a college English teacher, but suddenly quit his position – to become a mailman.
After hearing the man’s reasons for resigning from teaching to become a mailman, Campolo tried to encourage him with the old Protestant work ethic: “Charlie, if you’re going to be a mailman, then be the best mailman in the world!” To which his friend replied, “I’m a lousy mailman, Tony. I’m the last one to get back to the post office every day, and besides, I can’t sleep at night.”
When he asked for an explanation, here’s what Campolo heard: “There are so many lonely people on my route who never had anyone visit them until I became their mailman. Have you ever tried to sleep after drinking fifteen cups of coffee in one day?”
Campolo reached an important conclusion about his friend Charlie: “He was alive with the excitement that comes to a person doing something meaningful with his life.”
Beloved, there’s nothing as thrilling as knowing what you’re called to do… and then living out that calling each day.
Your universal purpose is to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior… and then spend the rest of your life growing in your faith… and loving and serving others. But do you know your unique purpose… how God is calling you to live out that universal purpose?
Pray about it. Come talk to me about it. And then, like Paul, get busy living.
Grace and Truth,