Finding Your Purpose
Do you wonder what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Do you wonder if you’re in the right job or following the right career path? You’re not alone when you think about things like that. Many people wonder about the purpose of their life and their vocation.
But it can get a little disheartening if you start entangling your life purpose with the job where you work each day. Because while jobs come and go, your life purpose is set inside of God’s specific and beautiful design for your life.
It’s easy to mix your life purpose—or identity—with your vocation. For many people, myself included, the two get so intertwined that they seem like one big thing. But they’re not.
One is about your God-gifted value, and that has nothing to do with work. It has to do with your personality, your passion, and your preferences. The other is about your vocational expression of those things.
“Your identity as a child of God gives your life meaning and purpose. Relationships with other people improve as you relate to them withJesus Always, March 10
love and forgiveness.”
Understanding the difference between identity and vocation will give you a ton of understanding and help you breathe a little easier. So let’s separate them out.
Identity is who you are, and who you are defines your worth. You are made in the image of God. You are unique. There is no one like you. That uniqueness includes your gifting, your personality, your skill set. You were made by God and for God, and He crafted you with His design in mind (Colossians 1:16). You are also called to minister to others. That is who you are. That is your life purpose.
The vocation part is what you choose to do with your time, like your work, and there’s a lot of wiggle room inside that. During the course of their lives, I think most people do a lot of different things vocationally. For me, I can think of about ten jobs I’ve had between the ages of twenty and fifty. I’ve been a pre-school teacher, a drama instructor, a public speaker, an author, a radio co-host. I’ve created small businesses that brought in income to help with our family budget.
Vocationally, I’ve been all over the map. If I defined my worth or identity by my ability to stay the course doing one thing vocationally or by making big money, I’d feel like a colossal failure. Instead, I stay focused on my identity before God. I am made by Him and for Him, and in all the things I’ve chosen to do, I try to honor Him.
“The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading the more fully I can develop your gifts.”
–Jesus Calling, July 20
In his book Prayers from the Heart, theologian Richard Foster talks about his life purpose in a way that resonates with me: “My whole life, in one sense, has been an experiment in how to be a portable sanctuary, learning to practice the presence of God.”
Everywhere you go, as you practice the presence of God in your life, you’re like a small sanctuary to the people closest by. So that means when you’re on the way to work and you interact with the barista in the morning, you’re standing there as a respite, giving life and comfort to the person you’re talking to. As you hold a baby or read to a toddler, you’re offering them sanctuary as you abide with God. Maybe in your high-pressure job, your calm demeanor is a comfort to people who don’t know or even care about God.
In each scenario, there you are, a portable sanctuary, a daily relief. It’s that simple.
A lot of times, I think we try to make this connection between our identity and our vocation too intense and difficult, like being a minister for God means you should pack up your life and move to a third-world country to be a missionary. You could be called to that, and it could be dreamy and exotic in a sacrificial kind of way. But more likely, your ministry for God is right where you are, in your home and at your work.
Susie Davis is an author, speaker, and co-founder of Austin Christian Fellowship. She is married to her high school sweetheart Will, and the mother of 3 young adult children (and also a mother-in-law to 3!). Her latest book is Dear Daughters: Love Letters to the Next Generation. To learn more about Susie and her podcast Dear Daughters, visit her website.
Photo credit: Emily Boone Photography
7 thoughts on “Finding Your Purpose”
I’ve been a Christian for a long time and have Walked with the Lord. I don’t like it when I run on emotions and doubt my purpose of encouraging others in the Love of the Lord. He’s always been Faithful. I’m going through the loss of my husband and thinking ~ What’s next.
I know it’s walking in the moment and trusting the Lord to lead my path.
The enemy does not fight us because we are weak, but because we have a purpose! Keep holding tight to the Father’s hand. Loosing a husband who was your best friend is hard and being alone is harder. Hang in there!
This is so true.i lost my husband July 2018 no signs or warning of feeling bad. It was Devastating.I find myself just about everyday saying, Lord I know these are your plans just help me thru it. And it helps me.
I am a fellow encourager and I can relate to what you are saying. I am so sorry for your loss and I am praying for you -comfort and healing. I started leading a GriefShare group earlier this year and many have found help there. Blessings and favor my dear sister in Christ, Love, Laurie
I needed this today! I’m finding it hard to discern and this is an eye opener. Thank you
I am not a Christian yet, but when you talk about going about the day being a mobile sanctuary, that is exactly what I do?, I got to a place, that I questioned what I had to offer, and because I had such a squashed personality when I was growing up, I had to really recall what I enjoyed, what I liked, what was a pleasure, and you know what? It was being kind to people, being compassionate to others, or Gods creatures, to hold them, and being kind. Also singing, I just loved it, and still do, its a balance at the moment, as I am a full time carer to my husband, but the urge from God is too full, and I have to obey, so I am doing a charity in November, and a concert for where I live, and enjoying the moment, and so far, the places I’ve sung at, have enjoyed it. I just did a festival, where I live, and the comments were very positive, and my mother has always been on my musical journey, she needs to know that, as she was there for my ‘comeback’ and it was as if she was really seeing me for the first time, and how comfortable I felt on the stage, also my singing teacher is one of my best friends. She came to me, and for that I am blessed. I am working on ignoring cruel and ignorant people who don’t know what its like being a full time carer, they say its frustrating, and that it occurs from time to time, but as anyone who cares for someone with an illness with no end, there is no such thing as time to time, more always, the trick, is to go with each day, in Gods hands, and being used to that assurance. God never lets you down, and getting used to that, is a remarkable support system.
I need to get a better understanding of God and my life in God because I know that this mental illness is not the way He wants me to live depending on pills and Dr.I just don’t know how to keep going I need help I have a beautiful family and I am so sad and depressed I haven’t worked in 4 years which shows God provides but i don’t know how I got it all mixed up and feel worse than ever please pray for me I’m so scared and need a revival of God in my whole being