Finding Your Purpose in Life
We were created for a purpose. That purpose has been defined clearly in Christianity as knowing, loving, and serving God. And in the service is work. Without work, we lack a sense of usefulness, value, or meaning to our lives. God gave work as a gift to the human race in the Garden of Eden In Genesis 2:15, Scripture says that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” NIV
Work did not become a dreaded task until after the fall of man when sin affected the whole world. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,…” Genesis 3:17b-19a NIV
Yet we still need purpose, and work fulfills that inborn need to a certain extent as evidenced by Ecclesiastes 2:10b: “My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” NIV
However, the writer goes on to say, that even this is meaningless. I believe he meant in the grand scheme of things, which we would call eternity. There is also the possibility that the writer had a morose outlook on life.
Whatever the cause of his dispute, there are two points I would like to make:
1) We all need to have a purpose–a goal in life, a plan to work toward, a sense of contributing to society. That purpose covers a wide range of jobs, tasks, calls, ministries, or avocations. A financier, an educator, a janitor, a businessman, a secretary, a writer, a stay at home Mom, an artist, an architect, an engineer, a computer technician, a garbage collector, a pastor, a social worker, an accountant, a sports broadcaster, a merciful soul who cares for the poor, a fundraiser, a landscaper, a housekeeper, a painter, a restaurateur, a hotel manager, and the list goes on.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
|Grand Central Station, NYC 2003|
When I began my recent position as a special education teaching assistant, I could feel the change in m spirit. There was joy and a significance to my life. My life took on a sense of purpose at a deeper level. That does not mean that my life did not have purpose as a wife or a mother, but my young men are old enough and independent enough to care for themselves. Hubby and I are the fall-back support system at this stage in their lives.
2) The work we do must be meaningful to us to bring us joy. Otherwise, it becomes the dreaded task we struggle through to pay the bills, raise a family, and maybe go on vacation.
According to an excerpt from Anita Renfroe’s book “A Grand New Day“,
“Whether you have a job and wish you didn’t, or don’t have one and wish you did, or if you wish you had different people to work with or report to, the dailyness of your workplace can become a mental drag if you don’t choose to see it as a place of purpose and mission.”
The Lord is at work in our present circumstances to give us purpose, hope and a future. We need to seek Him to discover what those plans are for our lives.
I have watched discouragement stranglehold my sons when they do not have a job outside of the home. While their reasons for working at this point in their lives has not registered with them as God’s ultimate plan for their lives, it still is part of God’s purpose and plan for them now. And may I add that doing chores around the house also fulfills God’s plan for them (it’s the mother in me coming out). I may have a hard time convincing them that if they see their work as meaningful and purposeful that it will bring them joy, but it would not take much to get their agreement on the fact that work has added a sense of value to their lives.
We were created for a purpose–part of that purpose is to serve the Lord. At the same time, the Lord gave us work to do so that we may contribute to His Kingdom and that we may have joy in fulfillment.
It can best be summed up in this Scripture:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23&24 NIV
Have you found purpose in life?
From My Heart to Yours,
This is sooooo good Janis!! I say yes and amen!
I know exactly what you mean having worked outside the home at various times in my life. It could be drudgery or it could be purposeful in God. It is all a matter of the perspective of the heart.
I loved this post Janis…
Happy WFW and God bless you my dear sister…
Such a great post.
It is interesting to have been in ill health retirement since ’91 and finishing part time work in ’96, then coming to the end of radio announcing and being active on the board of a large Christian school. Added to this was a move to a different church a decade ago…one in which I am not needed at I was previously….It has been interesting to keep finding that purpose in times of ill health and disability but knowing that while I live…He has a purpose in my living. Sometimes the purposes I see are quite short term…one purpose, that of prayer, praise God is one purpose that will remain….as will His sovereign presence.
Excellent post, Janis. We all seek some work of significance but it’s true that work can become a place of dread, when we work outside of our gifting.
“Do it as unto the Lord” (bad paraphrase, sorry) has been on my heart a lot lately too. I may not understand why I am in certain places doing certain things but the Lord knows therefore I need to do things as if I am doing them for Him (because it IS Him I am TRULY doing them for). Wonderful post! Blessings to you!
God is so good, our opening lines are just about identical this week. I love the images, too. He definitely has a message, I pray we all open our ears!
This is a great post! I have struggled with this many times in my life and it is true that we need to feel that we have a purpose. I am grateful that God has given us all a unique purpose and plan for our existence. God bless you on this WFW!
Janis, such wonderful words. My season of life is changing. I’ve struggled with “what am I suppose to be doing” for HIM. But, the thought “do it all as if I am doing it for HIM”. Whether its dishes, laundry, phone calls of encouragement or scrubbing potties. Do it all for HIM! Thanks for sharing and joining you today at Word – filled Wednesday.
Blessings Janis… A post with an awesome PURPOSE!
Wonderfully written and shared! Beautiful scripture and photos to back up your position… actually God was planning this all ago for you and so glad that you are content in how you serve!
Very meaningful words and message! We all must flow with the seasons in our life as we seek what does He require of me this day?
Contributing to His Kingdom is indeed a privilege and a partnership that we each have part in and investment! Yours is a high calling!
Without purpose or serving where we are meant to be, discouragement does set in but also it is sometimes hard to maintain your living cost and still work in a place where it lines up well; it’s hard enough just to get a job for many.
Thankful for my days of work and serving as a teacher or whatever, even a clerk at Target or hotel front desk. All was done as if I serve Him in what I’m doing! Bless you for your inspiring and encouraging words to press on.
Excellent post Janis. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings to you!!
Thank you all for your added wisdom and experiences that make this post worthwhile.
~Amanda, you are so right about the importance of perspective in our jobs. With the right attitude, it becomes service to the Lord.
~Denise, thank you for your encouraging words and your sweet visit. Always a blessing.
~Jane, such wisdom revealing that our ultimate purpose to worship Him and pray will always be there. I had experienced several months without employment outside of the home, and I know during these times it can be more difficult to find purpose in our lives. But He gives us purpose even in the short-term assignments. And the one I have now, may be just that. Blessings.
~Wanda, thanks for the wisdom that working outside of our gifting can make work difficult. It takes more to focus on working for Him in these circumstances.
~Guiding Light, you said it all. Wherever He places us, we are there to serve Him. A lesson that is hard to learn at times, but one that brings blessings.
~Julie, I hear you. The Holy Spirit must be speaking to some hearts this week, and certainly revealing my need to grown in this area. Blessings.
~Angel, it can be an adventure as we discover His unique purpose for us. And it can be one that changes through time or circumstances. But His plan does not change–to give us hope and a future!
~Karen, I’m at that point in my life as well. The roles are changing slightly, and sometimes it is difficult to make the adjustment. It’s hard to leave the workplace and come home, allowing the Lord to redefine us. But He is faithful to continue His purpose and plan for our lives as they change–all for a hope and a future. Blessings, and thank you for joining me this day.
~Peggy, ministry is a blessing with many challenges. Finding the financial assistance to function overseas these days is quite challenging. And, as you said, for some it is hard to get any type of a job. Their sense of purpose must be broken to a certain extent–only in the Lord can we find true purpose and the strength and direction for our lives from that point on. Blessings.
Thank you all for stopping by.
From My Heart to Yours,
~Mary, thank you for visiting. It was so nice to have you. Please come back again and we can share some coffee or tea!
From My Heart to Yours,
I know that my ultimate purpose is to glorify God. As to the details of how that works out in my life, I’m asking God to reveal that to me. I feel that blogging is one of the things He wanted me to do. And I think that He is leading me in new directions, teaching me how to use the gifts He has given. In the meantime, I try to do everything for Him.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus…” (Colossians 3:17)
~Sharon, thank you for your insight on Glorifying God as your (and our) main purpose. Praise God that He is leading you to serve Him through the gifts He has given you.
~Ann, what a beautiful Christ-centered mission statement. He sure is fulfilling that in your life through writing.For a mission statement to be real, I think, it needs a practical application like yours. Thank you for your comments.
What excellent thoughts on the high calling of our work!
I remember how popular it was in the ’90s to come up with a personal mission statement, which was kind of an attempt to summarize one’s purpose.
I kept coming back to a broad, simple statement that people said was ineffective as a mission statement because it wasn’t measurable. I would say, “I want to seek to live smack in the middle of God’s will at all times.”
Too broad, but that was (is) my deep-down heart’s desire.
At a practical level, I did eventually admit that I found great purpose and delight in writing, especially when my words encouraged others in some way. I think I needed to let myself dream a little to get to the point where I could voice the idea that writing was part of my purpose, or that it was what I wanted to work on most of all, outside of parenting and being an excellent wife. Those could all flow–and would flow best–from living smack in the middle of God’s will…which remained at the core.
Great post on our High Calling. We are finally getting it — that God loves our work and we should love our work too
Janis – I sent you an email – how’s Chip?
This topic has been on my heart for a while. Thank you for stopping by and for the encouragement that High Calling gives.
Thank you for asking about Chip. He is doing much better. Will post more later.
Janis, thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog! I’m so glad that you found me on InCourage, and look forward to reading more from you!