Two Ways We Get Purpose Wrong
In the circles I travel, and by “travel” I mean read on blogs and listen to on podcasts, much is said about purpose: finding it, living it, determining it. We know that we have a purpose and we desperately want to find out what it is. Although Achievers don’t want to waste too much time thinking, we simply want to do.
There are two ways we inadequately view purpose today:
1. We view it through the exclusive lens of joy.
2. We assign purpose too broad a definition.
The Exclusive Lens of Joy
I believe that God wants us to have joy; after all He invented it! I believe that He has a good plan for each of us, a future-providing, acting-for-good plan.
But my brain keeps coming back to the life-purposes of Moses, Jonah, and Jesus. Their purpose was to free people from the bondage of sin (Moses = Israelites; Jonah = Gentiles; Jesus = all of us). The plan for them could hardly be described as one that had them jumping up and down with excitement.
In fact, the purposes for these men were so bad that:
* Moses brought up his speech impediment and homicidal activity to get out of talking with Pharaoh. No doubt that Moses knew that conversations about letting go of a million-person labor pool with a hard-hearted, arrogant CEO would not go well.
* Jonah preferred fleeing in a ship and getting swallowed by a giant fish over preaching to the citizens of Nineveh. Jonah hated the Assyrians, and didn’t want to talk to them about how evil and wicked they were. Go figure.
* Jesus prayed that He wouldn’t have to carry out God’s purpose. He prayed that the cup would be passed from Him. He knew of the beatings, the thorny crown, the death by crucifixion, and He knew that the people He came to save would reject Him.
Yet the question of “What brings you joy?” is still good and valid.
Because Jesus did what brought Him joy. The unknown author of Hebrews said this in Hebrews 12:2, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
But the joy wasn’t His purpose. It only explains the “why” behind the “what.” Rather, the joy was the result of His endurance.
Too Broad a Definition
We mistake our performance for our purpose, our activity for our aim. We weigh down our job, our responsibilities, our behaviors with the title of “purpose.” Friends, my action items are not meant to carry the weight of my purpose.
For example, I don’t think that my purpose in life is to write a blog. My writing is the means to the end of the purpose. Whether you speak from a stage about Jesus or talk to your kids from the staircase in your home, your purpose is the same as mine.
What Your Purpose Really Is
Our one and only purpose as followers of Jesus is big, simple, global in scale and one-size-fits-all. Jesus outlined our purpose in Matthew 28:19, “Go. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach.” And when we’re scared of our purpose, Jesus answered with a preemptive, “I am with you always.”
Our overarching purpose is to make Him known and exalt the name of Jesus, and how we do it is up to each person. This is where our unique design, talents, temperament, circles of influence, and resources come into play.
We don’t need to figure out our purpose, but we do need to figure out this: in my daily, walking-around life, how can I make Him known and to whom? Ask your Father God.
What Achievers Hear
And yet, the Achiever hears the Great Commission and thinks, “Got it. I need to research missions organizations, find some people to disciple, then learn what to say at a baptism ceremony while fine tuning my teaching habits.”
Friends, let us remember that the going, the baptizing, and the teaching come out of the overflow of love for our Father God. And why do we love Him? Because He first loved us! May we see today that the fact that we love Him, the fact that we have a purpose, comes from His grace.
So if you’re struggling with purpose I wonder if you’re also struggling with accepting grace and His love for you. Will you spend some time just being loved as His child before you rush off to do for Him? As a mom, my favorite times are playing with my kids. I couldn’t care less if they paint me pictures or make me coffee mugs. I just want to be with them. As our Heavenly Father, God wants to spend time with us too.
The amazing part of our purpose is that it has everything to do with the One who made you. The pressure is off. Go rest and relax knowing that your purpose is both uniquely you and all about Him.