Without hesitation, and with great enthusiasm and conviction he said, “Daddy, I’m going to be a pizza taste tester.” Then he clarified, “not a pizza maker, just a pizza taste tester!”
You have probably heard it said that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. I agree. That is absolutely right. But a question remains. What is the main thing?
I firmly believe that the main thing is the mission, your mission. In other words, the main thing is to keep your mission the main thing. But that leads to a second question. What is your mission? Well, only you can answer that question.
Each and every human being was created for a purpose, gifted for a reason, and called to a mission. Knowing, understanding, submitting to and working towards that mission, that task, that assignment, is the main thing. It is a mission that is as common as snowfall and as unique as a snowflake and when if you learn to keep it the main thing you will live an extremely rare but exceptionally blessed life.
The goal of this article to help you learn and pursue your God-given purpose, to find your own life’s mission and get about doing it. Every person should know and live within the ‘why’ of their own life. Because that is the sweet spot of their existence.
Somewhere in high school or maybe in college people pick a career, which for most is a process much like pulling a rabbit from a hat. Then they spend a lot of our time and resources learning how to do what they want to be. And finally when they are doing “what” they spent years and money learning to do, they realize it was a big mistake. Isn't something missing?
The average person will change careers several times in their lifetime. Estimates are from between seven to as many as fifteen - that’s careers not jobs. When it comes to finding God’s life purpose it seems to be a crap shoot for most people, it’s like playing the lottery, chances are they will not pick the winning career.
The main reason is because everyone is asking the wrong question.
You should be asking the why question instead of the what question. Why am I here? Why did God create me? Asking why instead of what gets immediately to the question of purpose. Once you know the why, figuring out the "what" and even the "how" is so much easier to do. Knowing the why also makes the “what” so much more exciting and the “how” so much more fun.
If you know your passion, you know your purpose. In other words, it is your passion that cues us to your purpose. Passion is the flashing red light that alerts you to your purpose. The two are divinely linked. One does not exist without the other.
Passion is a God given desire. Passion is a yearning to make a difference in a particular area or ministry. Passion is the longing in you hearts that is like a magnet that attracts you into that area of service even without your conscious knowledge.
God-given-passion is a special gift from the Lord. I like to think of it is as a tiny piece of God’s lovingly sovereign heart given to each and every person. That small piece of God’s passion is your personal invitation to join Him in His work of creation and redemption. Outside of the gift of salvation, I can think of no other gift from God that is so precious.
I submit there are at least three things every person has to do to find their God-given-passion.
1. First of all, knowing your God-given-passion is a discovery made largely by experience: it can not be found academically. There are no tests or surveys that can identify it for you.
Discovering God’s purpose doesn't really happen without being in the middle of God’s work. An individual may get a hint of divine purpose intellectually. And it may be affirmed emotionally. But I am fully convinced that it can only be discovered actively - by doing - by serving -by being busy doing the Kingdom’s work.
I think most people have the wrong idea about God’s calling. Typically people pick some type of career they’re interested in like a plumber, doctor, or business owner until one day, (some of them, usually a small number) in some spiritual fashion figure out they are called into the ministry. They work at "secular jobs" until they some how determine that it is God’s will for them to “go into ministry.” So, they leave their jobs, go to seminary and become a professional minister and that is their new career.
I believe that’s all wrong. It’s all messed up. In fact, it should really be the other way around. The Bible calls everyone into ministry. If we are to believe the scriptures, everyone is a minister - so shouldn't we all “go into the ministry?” Shouldn't we all serve the Lord in some full time capacity until we learn our specific God-given-career?
I am convinced that the best thing you can do is to get lots of experience. You need to get involved in various ministries, serve on short term missions, volunteer wherever there is need. Then, if you don’t discover God’s purpose in these activities then you should explore other avenues of serving God like the building trades, medicine, or entrepreneurship. The point is to explore by actively doing.
My God-given-purpose is serving vulnerable children which is interesting since I myself was a vulnerable child. But, I have to give a warning here.
You should not let you past hinder your discovery or skew how you view your life’s mission. I think a lot of people can’t see their God-given-purpose because they have been living in their own sin-centered-purpose and therefore can’t imagine a different future. Or, they could easily assume that their own redemption from a particular situation is God’s calling to serve others with the same need. That in fact may be the case but no one should not automatically make the connection between the two.
I am going to let you in on a secret. What a person thinks about their future is much more important to the their success at finding their purpose than what they think about their past. That is just the opposite of what is most people have been lead to believe. Psychologists, who have largely influenced how we think about our troubles, like to focus on people’s past to explain their current behavior.
They would, for example, say that my work with vulnerable children and at-risk youth is because I am trying to heal myself and make up for my own pain. But that it is not correct, at least for me. I do recognize that it may not be true for others and that is why I caution you about using the pain and loss of your own life experience to determine what their God-given-purpose is and here’s why.
Take a troubled child with an abusive past for example, and you give that child hope that the future can be different and that child will be successful. But, if you take the same child and focus on their past and the things that happened to them - you will only create a victim whose future will be a little more than a repeat of their miserable past.
Helping troubled kids or wayward adults see the possibilities of the future is a much better way of helping them than giving them a bunch of psycho-babble about their past. I have seen this happen many, many times. Get a person hooked on their God-given-purpose and all the ugly things that happened to them or that they did themselves, and all that melts away in the heat of God-given-passion. It’s really a beautiful thing to witness.
Steve Maraboli said, “It doesn't matter what you did or where you were...it matters where you are and what you're doing. Get out there! Sing the song in your heart and NEVER let anyone shut you up!!” I really like that phrase, “sing the song in your heart.” It is a poetic way of saying, pursue your passion.
2. Secondly, it helps to understand that God-given-passion is an emotion identified by tears and laughter.
Ask yourself these questions. What stirs you? What makes you cry? What gives you great joy? What makes you feel alive? What makes you lose track of time? But you can also go to the dark side, if you will, to discover your God-given-passion.
Normally, we Christians try very hard to stay away from anger and hate but in this case those negative emotions can be very insightful. Anger can be a good sign of your God-given-passion. God gets angry and God hates and so there are some things you must hate as well. For example, I hate anything that harms children because I have a God-given-passion for children. Hate in the service of love can be a very positive motivator and may signal your God-given-purpose.
Also along those lines, listen to your dis-satisfaction. Listen to those things that gnaws at you, those things that takes away your peace, those things that makes you have sleepless nights? Those could also be emotional signs of your God-given-passion.
What makes you righteously angry? What do you passionately hate that should be hated? What stirs your spirit that something is wrong that needs to be put right?
May I also add here that it is also a good idea to listen to the voice of mature believers. One major purpose of the local church is to disciple people in the Christian faith and help them find where they should serve. Your chances of finding your God-given-purpose is not very good without being a part of a vibrant community of believers.
Another warning. There's a difference between passion and drive. There are a lot of driven people out there but that isn't what I are talking about here.
There is a big difference between drive and passion in terms of both motivation and consequences. Everyone one of us was born with a hunger for life itself and with what Warren Bennis calls “a passion for the promises of life.” It is this passion that can take one to great heights and motivate another to do great deeds. Unfortunately for many people that passion can devolve into just mere drive. What’s the difference?
There is a subtle, fine line between passion and drive. But there is, nonetheless, a very clear way to distinguish between the two. The difference between passion and drive is the difference between expressing yourself and proving yourself.
Passion, properly expressed, is usually productive while drive is often hazardous. Passion can be satisfied while drive may never be fully quenched. Passion can elevate the soul to great things. Drive can destroy the soul. Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion but many great things has been shattered by driven individuals.
Also consider that not all passions are good. It takes on many forms as you can imagine but not all are from God. There are earthly passions, fleshly passions, and sinful passions. As we read the scriptures, worship, serve, and grow in Christ, those “darker” passions begin to fall away and our more nobler spiritual passions come to the forefront. So, if you want to truly know what God’s will is for your life, pursue godliness, practice righteousness and then God’s will for your life will become self evident.
There are also passions related to those things that we find ourselves naturally good at. All of us have skills that we were born with or developed on our own over time and with a lot of practice and each of us must be open that what we do so well may be a sign of our God-given-passion - but not necessarily so.
Another warning here: You have to be careful. Your natural skills may be meant to serve your spiritual passions rather than be your main purpose.
The apostle Paul was obviously called to start churches. Read his epistles and it is evident what his God-given-passion was all about. But he followed that passion and fulfilled his purpose by making tents, a skill he was apparently good at.
There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural gifts. I think they both come from the same place and are meant to serve a singular purpose. Sometimes people are good at something that allows them to make a living so they can be free to practice their spiritual gifts and fervently pursue their God-given-purpose.
3. Lastly, you must understand that knowing your God-given-passion is only found when you conquer your fears.
The Bible says that God does not give us a spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind. Fear can keep you from thinking rationally and from knowing God’s loving purpose for your life.
I want to ask you a question that was once asked of me. The question (and my answer) has made all the difference in my life and ministry and I think it will for you as well.
If money was not a concern and success was guaranteed, what would you do?
In other words, if you had all the money you needed and you knew for sure that you could not fail, what would you do? What would you attempt - no risks, no fears, no disappointments, only success and accomplishment.
What would you do? The answer to that question is what you should be doing with your life right now. Yes, money is a concern and yes failure is a real possibility. But if there is something you would attempt if those obstacles were removed and you had no fear about them then that is how you know what you should be doing with your life right now.
In Luke 4:43, Jesus said, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Jesus was keenly aware of his purpose and He lived out His purpose with great passion and commitment. But rather than being inspired by Christ’s example many people are actually discouraged by it. They say that Jesus was the God’s son so, of course, He knew His purpose and He had the power to fulfill it. They consider themselves just normal people without any special gifts or status. Living a God-called-purpose is good for saints and prophets but it’s not for the average citizen of earth.
But consider this, the Bible informs us that God does not use human standards when calling his people to service. "Not many who are considered wise, not many who are considered powerful, not many come from royalty",
Are you an intellectual? Are you rich or powerful? Are you famous? Probably not and that’s okay. Being none of those things puts you in a great place because God likes to use folks like you. God does have his celebrities. He does have some of the rich and famous and powerful who serve him but for every one of them there are thousands of ordinary people like you who are doing extraordinary things in this world; just regular folks like you and me, quietly meeting needs, serving others, providing hope, and making a real difference in the world.
Probably the biggest obstacle that keeps you from actively pursuing your God-given-purpose is the fear of failure. But again, that's not something that should be a concern.
Success or faithfulness? Which one counts with God? Which one are we measured by, success or faithfulness? The answer is faithfulness. In the end it’s all about faithfulness because, faithfulness is success.
You don’t have to win to be successful. You don’t even have to succeed to be successful. You only have to be faithful. Dear God followers, we are called to be faithful. We are not called to be successful. However, I am the first to admit that I forget this truth often.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with success, whether in life or in serving the Lord. But our chief calling as God’s people is to be faithful to Him, to serve Him with excellence, to obey Him wholeheartedly. If God chooses to bless our efforts with success, that’s great. But there is no way we can guarantee success. We can choose to be faithful, however, to do as well as we can with that which God has so graciously set before us.