Why are you on the planet?
One of the greatest questions to wrestle to the ground is: why am I here? Aristotle’s mentor put it this way: “To what end are you in the world?” When our purpose is clarified, and then molded into a compelling vision, we have done some major work; work that can propel us into living a life that we enjoy as much as we can, and that matters as well.
The essence of purpose
Drawing on the previous paragraph, the essence of purpose boils down to the most important reason why are you here, or as the cool French would say, your “raison d’etre.” When we talk about purpose in this context, it is really not about small or lame things. It is not about being mediocre, or hiding in the crowd, or living a faceless life. The heart of purpose is about what is the greatest thing your life could be about? That, if you gradually lived it out, with greater consistency over the span of time, your life was rich and mattered. Man, how cool would that be?
Of course, if you’re like me, after you indulge the possibility rush, you immediately start to think of how hard doing this probably is. And, you would be right.
Enemies of Purpose
Being really clear about our purpose is hard for a number of reasons. Yet, they can all be overcome with prayer, focus and perseverance. Three big enemies of purpose are:
Busyness: Carl Yung once said: “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” Man, being busy can be so seductive. We can feel like we are really important if we are really busy. The kicker is, the busier we are, the more likely we are to be distracted, reactive, and foolish. Yep. Pray for the ability to slow down at least some of the day, to be able to reflect on what really matters, and to be led by the Holy Spirit throughout the day.
Lack of Clarity and Focus: When we aren’t clear on what really matters to us, our core purpose in particular, we are so much more vulnerable to spending our time poorly. Patrick Lencioni, one of my heroes, often cites the phrase: “If everything matters, nothing matters.” We have to gain clarity on what really matters, and then align our time in that direction, if we are to move closer to living a fulfilling life that matters. Ask the Lord for greater clarity and focus on how He would like you to invest your limited, precious time.
Easy-itis: While this may not be an actual word, it captures what I’m trying to say. Living out our Spirit-led purpose is going to be hard. Anything of real substance by definition is going to ask us to persevere, to see our weakness and darkness more clearly, and cause us to be more and more dependent upon the Lord. Those are beautiful and difficult things, and if we think clarifying our purpose and living it out is going to happen quickly or be easy, we are being foolish.
How to gain clarity about your purpose
This is pretty straightforward. It is really about taking time to be still before the Lord, and asking some basic questions: Why am I here? What did you uniquely design and gift me to do? Chances are you will have a life purpose, and a vocational purpose that unfold from your time. Both of those will likely revolve around the Lord in some capacity.
For me, my life purpose is to experience more and more of life to the full every day, and my vocational purpose is to help build the body of Christ by strengthening Christian leaders.
I encourage you to take even just an hour to reflect on these core questions I’ve listed. Then, do your best to pray over your purpose every day, asking the Lord to continue to shape and mold it, and grant you the grace to carry it out.
If you have some other cool ideas about gaining clarity on purpose, I would love to hear them.
We will be continuing to explore the vital topics of purpose and vision in future posts.