I see many people just doing things “because they have to” or without really thinking about why they are doing certain things. I believe that is partly why there is a lack of joy and purpose in many people’s lives. For many years, especially before Christ took a hold of my heart and life, this is where I was at too. I just did things just to do them. I learned after an incident in fourth or fifth grade in elementary school that I had to do certain things that I disliked, so I learned to do certain things “just to get them over with.” Sadly it wasn’t after I became a Christian and maybe even very recently that I learned to do things with intent and purpose. Here’s what I learned on my journey to discover what my purpose and meaning in my life, and more importantly what my purpose in life is personally.
My purpose in life: My purpose in life can be summed up in the Westminster’s confession, which says: The chief end of man [or purpose of humans] is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Source: http://www.puritansermons.com/watson/watson5.htm).
Three questions to ask yourself (using my life as an example) to determine what your purpose in life is:
1.) Why are you doing what you’re doing? I would recommend writing down all your daily activities (even waking up!) for a week and asking yourself after each one, “Why am I doing this?” We do things for different reasons, but after you have compiled all this after a week, look to see if there is an underlying theme to why you do things. That is your purpose in life. If you think you have a good purpose in life, cultivate this and make sure that you are doing everything to achieve that end goal or purpose. For instance, in the course of just a day, here would be some of my main activities and why I do them:
Activity Why I do them?
daily devotions glorify God, to get to know Him better
driving to work so I get to work on time
working glorify God, to make a difference in other people’s lives
eating /drinking to gain energy for working; hungry
talking to people online to form relationships with them, to make a difference in their lives, show I care
2.) Search for truth– To have a good purpose in life, you need to be completely honest with yourself and others. Don’t make excuses for why you do things or explain things away. Also, always search for truth. For me, the truth is contained in the Bible, God’s Word to mankind. For others, truth may be in what they see or observe, or in their experiences. Truth is very important to be able to find. It helps you have solid footing on your purpose in life. Find it; cultivate it.
3.) After you figure out why you do the things you do, tailor everything you do to that end. For me, my purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I try to permeate that purpose into every activity of my life. I do not want to compartmentalize my life into different sections, each not affecting the other. When you find out the purpose of your life, beware of the compartmentalization of your life. For instance, if you want to make a difference in others’ lives, make sure you not only do well in this at your job, but your home life as well, and everything in between. If you are a Christian (or any other faith system), make sure if that plays a role in your purpose in life that it permeates everything in your life.
When you apply these techniques to your life, at least for me, I have found that my life is more joyous and purpose-filled than just wandering aimlessly throughout life. Like my faith hero Rachel Joy Scott, I don’t want to be labeled as “average;” I want to be and do something great with my life, not because I am someone great, but because my God is, and He deserves nothing less!