Do you have an opinion on the purpose of your life? Of course you do. It may be little fuzzy and evolving, but we each certainly have a particular perspective. But is it right? ◊
Anne says her purpose in life is to be the best person she can be and help make the world a better place through her non-profit organization that provides social services for the under-privileged in her community. She’s worked and built this operation over the past 15 years. She describes herself as spiritual rather than religious. She believes that her Higher Power will reward her someday. in the meantime, she loves her work and the great satisfaction it brings her, if not necessarily monetary riches.
Jeff sees his life’s purpose realized in finally owning a successful dental practice in the community in which he was raised. He’s achieved this life goal finally at the age of 40 after buying out his partner’s practice after 10 years of helping expand the business. He is proud to be a thriving part of the community he serves. He and his wife occasionally attend their community church but, truth be told, he’s been a little bored with the sermons recently. He feels that his Christian faith is good and that God understands his sporadic church activity. He still contributes generously to local and national charities.
Joan says her purpose in life is simply taking care of her 2 young children and raising them to not have the kind of life she had. She runs a little online business that helps make ends meet beyond the small alimony she receives from her ex-husband. She says she used to go to Mass when she was young but has not actually stepped through the doors of a church for years. She says she still believes in God but is frustrated that things have not been easy ever since her husband left her for another woman 4 years ago. She admits she’s actually lost her faith but still says her prayers.
Is This the Real Purpose of Life?
At some level, the explanation of life’s purpose as expressed by Anne, Jeff, and Joan each sound fairly reasonable, particularly given their unique circumstances.
Here are some famous people’s explanation of the purpose of life:
- “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” – Ayn Rand
- “The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- “When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.” – Wayne Dyer
- “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – Dalai Lama
- “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
- “It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within – that you can begin to take control.” – Oprah Winfrey
But do even these sage thoughts reflect the real purpose of life?
Actually, no. As well-intentioned as these thoughts may be, they are all out of sync with God’s purpose for each human life.
A bit harsh and judgmental? It’s not my plan or merely my personal opinion. It’s God’s plan and purpose for each person as revealed to us clearly in the Bible.
And what could that be?
God’s Purpose for Our Life
Believe it or not, we were not created in order to get a good job (commercial or non-profit), build a good family, be a nice person, be prosperous, give to charities, “find” ourselves, be happy, be spiritual, align with the universe, retire early, and be rewarded after we die in some afterlife based on a good scorecard.
Sounds good, but these are merely attractive human goals not necessarily aligned with God’s purpose for each of us.
Rather, God makes some very intriguing and even counter-intuitive statements in the Bible relative to the purpose of life:
- “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21 (Meaning: We have plans, but God has plans that should prevail.)
- “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” – Psalm 138:8 (Meaning: If we let Him, God’s purpose for us will play out. We have to work it however under His direction.)
- “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” – Psalm 57:2 (Meaning: God’s purpose for my life is achieved, but I have to reach out to Him.)
- “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:10-11 (Meaning: Only in fully relinquishing control of my life, for Christ’s sake, will I actually find true joy in fulfilling His purpose for my life.)
To simplify it, the Lord’s purpose for us centers on 4 Keys:
- It’s Not About Us. – Jesus never encouraged self-realization or personal development for our own’s sake. It’s about God’s plans, not ours, yet we are the responsible vessel of His work.
- Success is Becoming Like Jesus. – His purpose is to make us exactly like Himself, measured not by our worldly success or external circumstances, but by the fruit He produces through us.
- It’s Not About Happiness, but Holiness. – Our right purpose is to seek Him and holiness, and to be rightly related and aligned with God, through Christ, at all costs.
- God’s Purpose Yields True Joy. – As Jesus delighted to do the will of God the Father, so we too by being rightly related to God will find true joy that surpasses anything the world offers.
So, as for finding our true purpose in life: Is it simple? No, it’s challenging. Is it doable? Yes, through a transformation of our old mindsets. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Do you have the right perspective on the purpose of your life?
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:25