Three Steps to Understand Your Life Purpose in a Deeper Way
One of my heroes, Mother Theresa, had a driving sense of purpose. In her own words, her life’s ambition was “to love the least of these; to touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted.”
Terry Fox, a Canadian hero who lost a leg to cancer, ran over 3,000 miles in his attempt to run across Canada. His purpose – to raise awareness about cancer and to ultimately find a cure.
Life purpose is the reason that we exist. It clarifies what is non-negotiable. It gives our lives focus.
Life purpose helps us to discern what is best among many good options. It gives us passion, courage and determination. When we understand our life purpose, we are much more likely to make sacrifices to achieve it. The result- increased productivity that is both meaningful and fulfilling.
In a previous blog, Why Understanding Your Personal Calling is Important, I talked about the first time I articulated my life purpose. Dave Jackson, who was with Church Resource Ministries at the time, led our church leadership through a process of clarifying our personal life purpose. The following three steps are an adaptation of the process he used and one that I have now used with hundreds of leaders to help them understand their life purpose in a deeper way:
Step 1 – What are at least 8 Scriptures, sayings, or quotes that give you focus and direction in life?
For me, my blood pressure increases whenever I read about making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and the fields being ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Quotes like this one by C.T. Studd also inspire me: “Only one life and it will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” We all have “sacred texts” that guide us. What are yours?
Step 2 – As you reflect on what you wrote in step one, what are the themes that emerge?
The Scriptures and quotes that resonate deep within your spirit likely contain themes that are not only important to you, but to God, as well. As we draw close to God, our desires increasingly reflect His desires. Identifying these passions as expressed in key verses and quotes will make the final step of creating your purpose statement much easier.
Step 3 – Using the themes from step two, craft a one-sentence purpose statement.
My life purpose is to build capacity in myself and others so that we can love God more deeply and serve Him more effectively. I want who I am and everything that I do to contribute to this overarching purpose. Whenever I think about this purpose, I get excited. It inspires me to press on with courage and determination even in the face of great challenge.
I would love to see your life purpose statement! Follow the steps above or download and complete a workbook called Understanding Your Personal Calling. Then contact me with the statement that you've developed.
May the Lord give you strength and wisdom to live out His purpose for His glory!
Dr. Randy Wollf is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary and the Director of MinistryLift.