Among the questions a pastor gets asked on Twitter: “How do I know what God’s purpose is for my life?”
Great Question. Hard to answer in 140 characters or less. I gave it my best shot in three tweets. Now, I’ll expand that to three posts.
First things first: Knowing God’s specific purpose for your life starts with knowing God’s general purpose for humanity.
The place to go is the Bible. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. The Bible is a compendium of wisdom and teaching to help us understand the big picture of God’s purposes in creation and for humanity. More than that, it shapes your mind, your hearts, and your desires.
My daughter asked me the other day how often I read the Bible. I had to be honest with her that I tried to read it every day, but there were times in life when I just didn’t do it. “Yeah,” she said, “life happens.” (pretty savvy for a 16 year old!) Then I gold her “But when I do read the Bible every day, I find I’m a much happier person.” When I’m attending to scripture, I’m much more patient, I’m much calmer, I’m less anxious, I’m much less cranky, and I’m much more focused on what matters most.
You might say: “That’s great. But the Bible such a big and confusing book!”
You’re right. That’s why it takes a lifetime of study. You can’t just read it in a week, say “got it”, and move on.
The Bible is an ocean filled with treasures in the deeps. You have to develop the disciplines to make the dives to hunt for gold. That’s why it’s helpful to study the Bible in a community with wise and trusted friends – friends who will come along side you and keep you moving when you feel tired.
However, you can find some of the riches yourself. Why not start with reading through Proverbs? That book promises to give you knowledge, discretion, and prudence. These are some basic skills for living, after all.
Then read the gospels and New Testament letters. They’re chock full of practical teaching about how to live life. After a few weeks, you’ll find that the discipline of daily study of the Bible will help you discern greater direction and purpose.
Here’s the key to making sense of it all: Jesus gives us the answer to what it’s all about. When He was asked about the greatest commandment, He replied “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
There you go. The elevator speech for discovering a life of purpose. Love the God; love your neighbor. Look to Jesus to teach you how to do it, to lead you in doing it, to fix you when you fail to do it, and to strengthen you when you feel to weak to do it.
Jesus is the teacher; the Bible is the course book; life is the curriculum.
Enrolling in the class is the first step to finding a life of purpose.
I hope this has been helpful. If so, please share with your friends. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter – you’ll get a regular dose of inspiration and encouragement in your inbox.