Discovering Your Purpose

What’s your purpose? 

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Do questions like these make you feel anxious? You’re not alone. For many years, I longed for a big revelation about God’s purpose for my life and how he planned to use me to change the world. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as dramatic an experience as Gabriel’s visit to Mary— but I would have settled for a simple, clear sign, like a message in the clouds or an English-speaking doggie.

Kidding. Kinda.

When that didn’t happen, I grew despondent. Had God forgotten about me? The people around me were changing the world in their own spheres— starting families, ministries, and businesses. On the cusp of thirty, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything significant with my life. I began to wonder if God had ghosted me.

But guess what? Not only was he still with me, he was quietly teaching me the secret to living my purpose.

Here’s the key: if you’re walking obediently with God, you’re walking in purpose. You’re not missing out on your big, hairy, audacious purpose. You’re walking in purpose daily by seeking and living out opportunities to honor God and serve your fellow human beings wherever you are.

Purpose may look like giving an older person a lift home after church, swapping PTO with a work colleague so they can care for an ailing child, mentoring a neighbor’s kid, helping your parents pay bills online, and a host of other seemingly mundane daily activities.

It’s in these ordinary acts of service and love that God is glorified. And that’s our purpose— to live our lives so that God is honored. Ephesians 2:10 says it clearly: “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Similar sentiments are echoed elsewhere in the New Testament:

“Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Sure, for some folks, being obedient to God’s purpose may lead to pursuing a remote mission field, developing a cure for cancer, or founding a tech startup. But for all of us, it starts with daily obedience and capitalizing on the opportunities we have to serve others.

Explore God’s calling more in Reclaim Today’s book, “What’s Next” 

Let’s look at an example. When we think about the story of Joseph in Genesis (chapters 37-50), we probably think about Joseph’s rise to political power in Egypt. How he saved his family from famine, despite his brothers’ cruelty in selling him into slavery when he was only seventeen.

But put yourself in adolescent Joseph’s shoes. He didn’t know what the future held for him. He knew only his reality. At first, he was a slave, taken from the safety and comfort of his father’s home to a foreign country. Yet when Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, purchased Joseph, Joseph continued to honor the Lord by serving Potiphar’s household well.

When Joseph was thrown into jail after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape, Joseph honored God from the jailhouse. He saw two of his prison mates looking forlorn and inquired about their wellbeing. Hey, we can do that in our jobs too, right?

When his prison mates told him about their troubling dreams, Joseph did what he could to help— he made himself available to God’s Spirit who interpreted their dreams through Joseph. Two years later, Joseph did the same for Pharaoh, who in turn placed him in charge of Egypt.

At each juncture in Joseph’s life, he walked in purpose. He had no idea what the ultimate outcome of his life’s journey would be. But in every season, he was faithful to God by honoring him and using his gifts and abilities to serve those around him.

Likewise, we are called to do the same. You may be asking, then, How do I discover my gifts? Do I even have gifts?

You do! Here are a few ways to discover yours:


Requests and Compliments from Others

What’s something you do well and for which you receive compliments? What’s something with which people always seek your assistance?

The answers to these questions may provide clues about your gifts and how you can serve others.

I have a friend who is incredible with teenagers. At forty-plus years old, she has the secret sauce that gets sullen teens engaged in a way their parents and other adults just can’t match. She makes a fantastic youth leader and is always sought to lead and plan youth outreach activities.

Maybe you’re good with kids or good at explaining complex ideas so that people understand them. Or maybe you sing well. If you’re still unsure, ask a few trusted friends or leaders what skills or talents they’ve observed in you that should be explored or developed.


Passion and Enjoyment

 What are your hobbies? What can you do for hours and hours on end without getting tired or bored— and you’re good at it? What do you enjoy doing?

Whether you’re a math whiz who’s great at breaking down complex problems, or you love planning and organizing events, your gift may be discovered in the things you’re passionate about and find delight in.


Things that Upset You

What societal problems frustrate you or make you upset? What causes make you want to act? These provide great clues to where your passion may lie.

For example, when I felt like children weren’t receiving the education they needed to live successful lives in the real world, I started a program to teach high school kids problem solving, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial skills.

The scale of societal problems can feel overwhelming. You probably won’t solve the issue of world hunger on your own, and that’s okay. You can start where you are— sponsoring one kid or family in need, reaching out to one lonely old lady in your neighborhood, or lending your skills pro bono to a local NGO. 

Friend, the next time you feel anxious about your purpose, remember this: you have purpose right where you are, in your current season and environment. I pray that God will give you the wisdom to recognize and seize opportunities for you to discover and walk in your purpose.