What Should My Purpose Be?
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Excerpt from the book Majestic Destiny by Curtis Tucker.
Picture of Purpose
A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. -- William Shedd
Every human being has a deep inner longing for meaning, significance, and purpose. For some, these three may be distinct; but even if distinct, they are inextricably tied together.
What is the meaning of life?
Am I significant?
What, if any, should be my purpose?
The answers to questions of meaning, significance, and purpose are found in the all-sufficient Creator God.
If you want to find out why something was created, then you must consult the maker of the thing, not the thing. The thing doesn’t possess the capacity to understand or know the thoughts of its maker on its own. So, in order to find out why man was created, his creator is the one to turn to, not to man himself.
The purpose for which God created becomes the purpose of the created.
Read that again: The purpose for which God created becomes the purpose of the created.
Doesn’t that make sense? Why did the cobbler make a shoe? Because he needed something to keep his feet from being cut and bruised. And what is the purpose of a shoe? To keep feet from being cut and bruised. Why did the baker make bread? To feed someone who was hungry. And what is the purpose of bread? To satisfy someone’s hunger.
We get it wrong when we say that the purpose of a shoe is to look good, or the purpose of bread is to smell good. Those attributes may be true, but they aren’t the purpose for which the item was created.
So then, why did God make you? Maybe you look good and smell good, but that is not your purpose.
Many books have been written that correctly recognize that the basis for personal purpose is found in God. The recent highly acclaimed book Purpose Driven Life by author and pastor Rick Warren has been called a “groundbreaking manifesto on the meaning of life.” We read in the opening chapter, “You must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”1
As Warren states, “It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.”2 On this much we agree.
But while Warren offers his own perspective on God’s five purposes for each of us—real worship, real fellowship, real discipleship, real ministry, and real evangelism—we should ask ourselves whether these are really purposes at all.
The word purpose is defined as “the object toward which one strives or for which something exists: goal.”3 It would seem very limited in scope if we were to reason that God’s purpose is for us to perform certain practices with no greater goal than the mere accomplishment of those practices.
It is a slippery slope into a religious rut if we allow any practice to become our purpose, for that undoubtedly limits us to a performance-based existence. Our heavenly Father has bigger things in mind for us than mere religious performances. Under this performance prescription we are headed down a road that has danger written all over it! The signs ahead will often read Guilt, Shame, Failure, and Fear. This all goes back to our perspective of the heavenly Father. The practices are a means to an end, not the end!
Practices in themselves are not bad; what determines their value is what goal you attach to the practices. If the goal is heaven or eternity with God, we slip into thinking that God’s commitment to us is dependent upon our performance of the practice, our perseverance.
Remember, the Bible makes it clear that our eternal destiny is a gift given by God that we receive by faith without works.4 The guarantee of the gift is related to the character of the Giver, not the recipient.
God’s character, not ours, guarantees the security of our eternal relationship with the Father.
So why do we find ourselves so often back here struggling with guilt, shame, and inadequacy? Why can’t we accept that our performance doesn’t impact or influence God’s verdict about us? It is because we have blurred lines that need be distinct.
It’s like talking with an ancient astronomer and trying to convince him that the earth is not the center of the universe. Though many Muslim astronomers had come up with almost identical lunar calculations to Copernicus’s, even prior to his life, they weren’t able to make the paradigm shift to allow for the concept of the earth orbiting around something else. The evidence was there, but their beliefs, supported by Islamic tradition, held them too tightly to allow them to see the truth.
In the same way, we have the evidence in Scripture. We have all the information, but we just can’t make the paradigm shift to see the truth; we don’t seem able to understand what the lunar calculations are telling us.
Here’s what I mean:
From Genesis to Revelation, the main theme of the Bible is the coming kingdom of Christ. It’s not salvation. It’s not heaven. It’s not forgiveness or grace, or even eternity. It’s the millennial reign of Christ, the total theocratic dominion we all long for.
There is a distinction in Scripture between God’s plan for eternity and His glorious plan for the ages of history (in time), but we fail to see the two as distinct: eternal salvation and the millennial reign of Christ in the kingdom of God on earth.
So, we take all of those Scriptures that talk about how faith without works is dead, how we must work out our salvation, take up our cross, hate our own life, the rich young ruler, the Sermon on the Mount, fear of not entering rest spoken of in Hebrews, and how certain ones characterized by a lifestyle of sin “won’t inherit the kingdom”…and we misapply them.
We declare that these passages, and others like them, refer to our eternal salvation because we don’t know that it’s an option for the earth to orbit the sun…or rather, that the Scriptures might apply to something other than our eternal salvation: the millennial reign of Christ, the kingdom of God on earth.
God loves us because He is love. We, His creatures, are the object of His affections because we have been created for His purpose. His purpose is not to fill heaven with a slew of believers; it is to develop a kingdom of priests to use for His glory in the coming kingdom of Messiah. When we arrive with our full reward, God will receive the glory. We will be His trophies!5 That is why His plan is important…why rewards are so important.
This is the reason we are on this earth. This is the end to which God is calling and choosing us.6 Doing good works by faith is the way we fulfill the obligation that comes along with our calling and appointment; it is part of God’s wonderful plan. This is how God is working today to make us trophies of His glory and grace now and in the age to come.7
We cannot be so farsighted (looking to eternity) that we miss why we are here on earth.
God created the earth and all it contains for the establishment of His kingdom in order to bring final defeat to His archenemy, the devil. This is what God is doing and what He wants us to become so His glory will shine through us.
The work that Jesus did was kingdom work.
The incredible price He paid on the cross is what provides our access to His riches. Make no mistake, the work He will finish will be kingdom work.
All of history points toward the kingdom.
We exist for the very same purpose, from which God will be glorified.
This is why it is so important for us to pursue, search, and strive for His kingdom and what is right.8
The kingdom on earth, as pastor and author Stu Weber commented, is “the fulfillment of the Father’s dream on this planet among human beings—his kingdom realized on earth as it is in heaven”9
This is what the Father has to share with us…this is the reason we are created.
This is His wonderful plan.
When We Have "The Why"
We are His children, created and saved for His plan and purpose (all for His glory).
As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” We have the why: the glory of God as it is revealed in His glorious plan for the ages. The why of His purpose ought to change and sustain the how, the way you live.
My family recently discovered a newfound purpose in quarters, dimes, nickels, and even pennies that is radically affecting the way we think about spare change. I brought home an empty five-gallon bottle from our office water cooler. As a family, we discussed how great it would be if we could fill the bottle with change and use the money to take a really nice family vacation.
Immediately, the whole family was onboard.
We had a shared purpose.
Since the inception of this new purpose, we have newfound enthusiasm about saving change. It is exciting to drop a handful of coins into the bottle. Prior to our little plan, I was in the habit of leaving spare change in a careless manner. Rather than break a bill, I would ransack my car’s ashtray to pay for something (to the chagrin of those behind me in the fast food drive-through). But no longer.
The only reason for this fundamental shift in our “changed paradigm” is purpose. Having a clear and defined purpose is changing our lifestyle.
In our spiritual lives, we can bear any how once we understand the why. We don’t do good works to prove anything to anyone, or to stay in God’s good graces, or to secure our salvation. We work toward that for which we were created and saved: God’s glorious plan.
In the words of Vince Lombardi, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” Our purpose is to glorify God, whose glory will be displayed to the greatest degree in the coming kingdom of Messiah.
We must be as kingdom minded as He is in order to truly live for His glory.
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