What is My Purpose?
This life question will haunt many at one point in time or another: What is my purpose? The amount of time I have put into this thought alone accounts for over half my life. A haunting feeling always rising to the surface which begs the question of enough. Am I doing enough? Is what I am doing enough? This train of thought can suffocate and eventually destroy the drive that propels one into living out the purpose-filled life.
Over the last couple of years, I have come to a better understanding of what my purpose is and what it isn’t. Purpose has taken on a different meaning and I see life through different lenses. The process has led me away from the draining and approval-seeking path to one that is fulfilling and grace-filled.
Chasing the Wind
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:11
If I could, I would throw out quite a few verses from the book of Ecclesiastes. I feel like I have a really good grasp on what Solomon was agonizing over in his deep contemplation of life. I too have sat back and taken assessment of my accomplishments, my possessions, and accounted for those gifts that are precious to me. People, things, decisions, awards, positions held–every moment of life–meaningless? Perhaps we search so hard for purpose, because we innately recognize the meaninglessness of everything. We were designed for purpose. Yet when that purpose is not understood–or worse, when it has been distorted–we mar and waste said purpose.
The effort and time we put into things, even good things, can all amount to wind chasing. Our work and our accomplishments are futile and they exhaust, with no hope of rejuvenation. When purpose is left out, all of the good and important things we do wash away like sand. We are left contemplating the thought of meaningless and enough.
An Established Meaning
The first question found in the Westminster Shorter Catechisms asks: What is the chief end of man? The answer then given is: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
If we could let the knowledge of our prime purpose sink deeply, would it change us? We were created to bring Him glory and to enjoy His glory. I don’t know about you, but the knowledge of that is freeing and beautiful to me. This purpose, once known, makes all other decisions in life a little more clear–it is this ultimate purpose which drives.
“A sunset seen from the top of the I.D.S.—that’s glory. Or the I.D.S. itself almost invisible, like crystal against a grey-blue sky—that’s glory. A perfect performance on the balance beam by Nadia Comaneci—that’s glory. A perfectly executed 30-foot jump shot with one second to go—that’s glory, too…The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of his manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on his different attributes from time to time—like his power and wisdom and mercy and justice—because each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.” –John Piper, God Created Us For His Glory
A Covering of Grace
I think of the years I spent looking for purpose, I think of the years I spent hiding from purpose, and now, I think of the years to come with an understood purpose. It is a covering of grace that can take wasted years and use them for His glory. It is a covering of grace that takes the new and untouched years for His glory, too. That is the thing about our purpose…it is not separate from Him. His grace is woven deeply in a tapestry of a life lived for Him and enjoyed through Him.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men… – Colossians 3:23
Sometimes, the purposeful life may tempt us to feel “less than.” Often, our perspective of this life is measured by great success in the eyes of man. We might even struggle as we look to the right or to the left and see others living out their purpose-filled life…and we may feel as if ours does not measure up. We might see those who lead thousands to Christ, we might see those who are glorifying Him while the world watches, and we may see those whose lives look so much more important than our own. When this temptation of comparison befalls us, we surrender to Him and press forward, looking straight ahead. We keep our gaze on Him and we complete every task for His glory and we soak in the joy that He offers. It is then and there that we will know we are living a life of purpose, because everything we do is for Him.
“To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us.”
I agree, we all ponder on this question about what our purpose here is in one form or another. It’s truly amazing that I feel the most joy when I am serving others! Sure, receiving is fun too, but there is no price on how good it feels when you are doing what you were put here to do.
I struggle with this all the time! I think it’s a generational thing. We are supposed to conquer, overcome, create, make money, and seem perfect all at the same time. This is a great post. It’s very encouraging and relatable.
Ecclesiasties is a great book our purpose isn’t our joy but God’s joy.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the purpose of our lives. I have always felt more purpose in my life when I on purpose do things for others, show an act of kindness or something of that nature.
Contemplating your purpose, and coming to terms with who you are in God’s eyes is a wonderful endeavor! But, don’t be surprised if you go through the same process again at the next major life phase. While our overall purpose to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” doesn’t change, how that looks in the day to day can be different in different phases of life. It is always a joy to follow Jesus!
Yes and the beauty in it is, because it’s not seperate from Him, He gives us the grace to do it and everything we need to do it because at the end of the day it’s not our purpose. Its the purpose that He gave us. So He wants us more than anything to complete it.
People are driven by several things: a self.appointed purpose, a God inspired purpose or a search for purpose. This is a great discussion for all of the above.
Many feel they have no purpose but when we live to just praise the Lord and Glorify God in all we do then there is the purpose and knowing HE will use what we do
I think about the Westminster catechism every day. Is my life glorifying to God? Am I enjoying Him? It helps me put things in perspective.