Finding your life purpose might be simpler than you thinkAug 19, 2020
A few years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to teach my kids the Westminster shorter catechism. And it would have been a good idea, actually, but my enthusiasm fizzled out quickly. (In case you were under the delusion that I have it all together as a parent, rest assured. I do not. I am NOTORIOUS for diving into new systems and plans with alllllllllll of the enthusiasm, only to completely die out on the implementation within weeks. Or days.)
You win some, you lose some, right? But the first question and answer of the catechism are forever ingrained into my head:
What is the chief end of man?
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
The “chief end” means the primary purpose. What is the main reason we are here? What is the number one thing we are supposed to be doing on earth? Glorifying and enjoying God.
Glorifying and enjoying. It’s that simple, guys.
This is what we were made for. This is what we are called to do. We are here to glorify God, and we are invited to enjoy God.
How do we glorify God, exactly? Well, the word glorify in the Bible means “to praise” or “to honor,” and each of those definitions has specific connotations.
Praising God is a direct way of glorifying him. We can sing, we can pray, we can tell our spouses or children or friends about who God is and why he is so wonderful. It is an intentional and visible (or at least audible) way of glorifying him.
Honoring God is every bit as important, but maybe more indirect method of glorifying him. If you’ve been around me any stretch of time, you’ll be familiar with this passage: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1, The Message). So if you’re at work, glorify God by loving those around you and doing your job well and with a good attitude. If you’re at home, glorify God by loving your family and caring for whatever he has entrusted to you. If you’re parenting, glorify God by being an example of a loving parent as God is to us—and by asking or forgiveness when (not if) we mess that up. If you’re with a friend, glorify God in the way you love, support, forgive, and speak hard truths. In fact, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Honoring God is also intentional, but it is more about how we live than doing/saying specific things.
Enjoying God is the other part of our purpose. Does the “enjoy” rub you the wrong way? Make you feel a little uncomfortable? Yeah, me too. I think those of us who are wary of the “health, wealth, & prosperity gospel” can sometimes focus so much on the trials of life and taking up our cross that we are afraid to let words like “enjoy” describe our Christian experience. But it’s OK to have both. Sacrifice and joy. Trials and happiness.
Several years ago, I heard a pastor lament the way the church had come to talk about marriage. In an attempt to be more authentic, to not just paint smiles on our faces, we have almost gone too far the other way. So much of what Christians say about marriage today starts with, “It’s hard, but…” But marriage is a union of two people who love each other—and hopefully, love being around each other and spending time growing their relationship! Doesn’t that sound great? Why don’t we start there when we talk about marriage? That’s how I feel about the joy and the trials of the Christian life. Sure, we need to be prepared for the hardships of this world. But we also need to embrace the JOY that comes with spending eternity with God. And not just an eternity that begins after we die! We get the Holy Spirit—God’s presence—with us right now! Let’s enjoy him!
How do we do that? Well, first and foremost, by spending time with him! I can’t really enjoy my husband or my children or my friends if I just never hang out with them. If we want to enjoy God, we need to spend time reading his Word—and not just skimming through, but really relishing it, digging into it, uncovering the richness of what he has provided for us there. We need to pray, not just to ask for stuff, but to praise him and listen to him. To know him is to love him, friends.
As we get to know and love God more, we will start to see his handiwork everywhere we go. We will enjoy him as we take in the beautiful sunset he provides, as we marvel at the creativity he showed in creation, and as we appreciate his faithfulness in our own lives.
And here’s the best part!!! The more we love him, the more we want to praise him and live our lives for him—you know, the glorify him part. And the more we glorify him, the more we can enjoy him. It is the best life cycle ever.
Your life purpose is the same as everyone else’s…
Wait, are you really telling me that my purpose is the same as everyone else’s? Well, yes. And also no.
Yes, each of us has the same primary purpose—to glorify and enjoy God. This is good news, believe it or not. Because sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that our identity is wrapped up in whatever makes us unique. And by “unique” we don’t just mean different, we mean exceptional. We think we must be better than everyone else at something in order to have a purpose. But no. Your purpose is the same as everyone else’s: to glorify and enjoy God.
Our identity is not based on who we are or what we do, but on Who made us. Only the Creator gets to determine the purpose for his creation. And our “chief end” is not to find some new way to impress God (not gonna happen—he made everything, you guys. There’s no topping that.) or build the biggest tower or help the most people. Our chief end is to glorify and enjoy God. For every one of us.
…and also it’s not
But you will live out that purpose in a unique way, which is also good news, because it means your path doesn’t have to look like your neighbor’s or your pastor’s or your favorite celebrity’s. In fact, when we start comparing our path to theirs, Jesus gently reminds us, “What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22).
My friend, God does have a purpose and a plan for you. It’s the same purpose that we all have—and it’s not. It is for your good and his glory. Yes, there will be hard stuff, because life on earth just isn’t perfect. But you were put here to glorify and enjoy God, and that’s pretty amazing.
PS – Are you looking for ways to live out your purpose? Are you wondering how to give him your everyday, ordinary life? I have been there! I created this great tool to help you better understand who God made you to be, so you can better serve and glorify him!
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