At The Purposed Initiative our aim is to help you live your life with positive purpose. A central part of that is helping you to find your purpose so you can live it out, which should mean that writing a post to help you find your purpose should be fairly straight forward. Yet if I’m to be completely honest, of all the posts I have written so far for this blog I would have to say this one has been the one I have struggled with the most. I think the reason for this is that trying to find your purpose isn’t as simple as a three point plan or a 5 stage process. Finding your purpose is a journey that can take years. For me, I am in my mid-thirties (some would say late-thirties, but I’m clinging to mid), and I am only now starting to get an understanding of my purpose and what it means in my life. The key Bible passage of The Purposed Initiative, Hebrews 12:1-2, which says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God“, has popped up as having meaning for me more than once in my adult life. In hindsight, I can see how God has been building my purpose throughout my life, and the clues He has given me along the way to help me find it now. Today in the blog I’m going to explore three areas to consider as you try to find your purpose. These are not three boxes to tick, or three steps to get you there, but three areas in your life which can help lead you down the path to finding your purpose. In order to illustrate them, I’m going to reflect on my own experiences of finding purpose.
The first area we’ll look at is where you perceive need. There are endless areas of need in the world, from refugee crises, famines and natural disasters overseas to issues like mental health, suicide or family violence in our own society. The needs are huge, so the challenge becomes working out which one you feel most driven to impact. For me, that is around the issues within our own culture of people feeling lost and uncertain, and not being sure what to do about it. I believe this leads to people seeking meaning and attachment in unhealthy ways because they don’t know how to do it in a healthy way. I see that teaching people about purpose, and how to live their lives with purpose, will help to address these needs. I believe that if people can learn how to address issues and seek fulfilment in positive ways, this will have a flow on effect in reducing a number of the negative issues in our society. For example, if people are taught how to find and live out healthy relationships, then that will help reduce the frequency of relationship breakdown and all the negative effects that flow from it.
The second area to look at is your passions. What are the things that drive you, the things that mean the most to you? What are the subjects you could talk about for days, or the issues that catch your attention? This helps narrow down some of the perceived need and move you in a direction of action. For example, I can see there is a need to support refugees, particularly the children displaced by war and other issues, but I don’t have a passion for it. This doesn’t make me cold or heartless, it just means that it’s not my calling. On the other hand, one of my good friends has a huge passion for the refugees, particularly those from Syria. She wants to use every opportunity to find ways to help them. This is where our passions lead us in different directions. Another word for passions is burdens, because when you are passionate about something you feel like it is something that has been placed on you to carry. But when it comes to purpose, the difference is that it is something you are burdened for, not something you are burdened by. When you are burdened for something, you feel the weight to do it but the passion you have for it gives you the energy to carry it through. When you are burdened by something you do not have a passion for it so trying to carry it will only burn you out. If I were to try and carry the burden of the Syrian refugees it would burn me out, but my friend gets life from trying to help. If my friend were to take on The Purposed Initiative she would not have the passion to see it through because it is not her purpose, whereas I can put in the work to get it done without feeling drained because I am passionate about it.
The final area to consider is your personal attributes. What are you good at and what skills do you have? These take the potential energy from your passion and gives it legs. Your attributes might be that you are a good speaker, or a good artist, or that you are good with money. You might be good at engaging with people or a good leader. Whatever your attributes are, you will use them to live your purpose out. For me, I am good at relating to people once I have spent some time with them, and I am a good teacher. I am also generally perceptive around people’s needs and attitudes. This gives me the ability to engage with people to teach them about the elements of The Purposed Initiative, as well as meeting with them at a more personal level to help them gain an understanding of themselves, their purpose, and how they can move forward. It is also important to be aware of the areas that you are not as strong in, so that you can seek help from others in those areas. Living out our purpose is not something we are meant to do in isolation, it is a team effort.
Finding your purpose is a journey, it is not something you can discover by reading a blog or doing a quiz, it is something that you need to make a conscious effort to pursue. Going back to the verse in Hebrews it talks about running a race with perseverance, which means that things are going to take time and effort to achieve. While I can’t give you a quick fix or an instant answer, I believe that by working through the areas I’ve talked about today you can begin or move forward on your journey. By looking at perceived needs you can start to identify the issues around you that you feel you want to do something about. By then engaging your passion you can narrow down the focus of your purpose and harness the energy to tackle the issues. And by looking at your personal attributes you can start to put your passions into motion and live out your purpose.
What are the needs that you see around you? Which ones stand out to you the most?
What are you passionate about? Which of the needs you see do you feel most able to have an impact on?
What are your personal attributes? How can you put these into action in tackling the need you are passionate about?
How does looking at these three areas help you start to find your purpose? Who might you talk to about this or pray through it with?