Ephesians 5: 14-18
This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit….
Philippians 2: 13
...it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
2 Timothy 3: 10-11
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
“Whenever you step into what you are called to do, it gives life back to you and doesn’t drain you as much as it builds you.” (Bill Johnson)
Knowing our purpose brings meaning and direction to our lives. Proverbs 29: 18 tells us:
“Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint…”
Clarity of vision for our future gives us perseverance and discipline to move forward through the inevitable obstacles, opposition and setbacks. That's why in 2 Timothy Paul puts his purpose alongside talking about his patience, endurance, persecution and suffering. Purpose keeps us focused on a goal, we can see the big picture, we aren’t side-tracked by problems or seduced by false promises. Like the Apostle Paul,
“… one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 13-14)
So how do we discover our purpose? Are we to sit cross-legged in a dark room until we hear God’s audible voice telling us what we are called to do? I don’t think so. Again, Paul helps us know how to discern God’s will:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom 12: 2)
God’s purpose for us is good, pleasing and perfect.
It is good because God declares it is good. In other words, your purpose will never be something which is contrary to God’s character or His Word. It is also good in that it brings favour, it is accompanied by good results, release and rewards.
Pleasing means it brings pleasure, you enjoy it. Time flies by when you are engaged in it. It energises you, it brings life.
Perfect means it is according to design. It leads to maturity helping you become all you were meant to be.
When God’s purpose is unfolding in our lives, these three elements are working together.
Many people are told by self-help gurus, “Pursue your passion.” Passion is obviously very important, but not everything you are passionate about is your purpose. You might be passionate about playing videogames. However, it is unlikely to bring rewards or lead to maturity therefore it is probably, at best, just a hobby.
In a similar way, not everything that seems to have favour on it is your purpose. I know someone who has found great favour in a particular profession. Opportunities and promotions come easily in this line of work. However, she would readily acknowledge that she actually doesn’t enjoy her job very much, it doesn’t energise her or enable her to use the other gifts she feels that God has given her. Therefore it is probably a job she will do for a season while also pursuing her true purpose.
When good, pleasing and perfect intersect, we have what is known as ‘convergence’. Convergence happens when your gifts, personality, passions and acquired skills “converge” with a role that empowers you to do what you do best. You’re doing what you love to do, you’re becoming who you were designed to become and you’re being rewarded in the process.
Psychologist Viktor Frankl said:
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfilment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Each of us has a purpose for which we were created. Our responsibility - and our greatest joy - is to discern it and demonstrate it.