A lot of people (like me) spend a lot of time trying to find purpose. Many books have been written on this subject, and they all tell you to look within yourself. After reading some of these things, I’m still left wondering: where exactly in my inside should I look? How do I look inside? I’ve come across many pieces of advice: “look for the one thing you would do without needing payment”, “watch out for the things that you’re passionate about or that come to you naturally”. Well, I’m passionate about quite a number of things. And I would read books and watch movies without getting paid, so, what’s your point?
These statements aren’t wrong, it’s just, for someone like me, they’re vague. Actual answers are still dangling above my head, just beyond my reach. However, I think the problem starts with our conception of ‘purpose’. I always thought that purpose, the thing you were put on the earth to do, should be something mighty and earth shattering. I mean, look at the word itself; doesn’t it seem like something deep and gravely important?
Very simply, your purpose as a person, is first, to worship God. That is the sole duty of man. We were created for fellowship and relationship. And since we all know that worship is so much more than singing slow-tempo songs on Sunday morning, how exactly does it tie into purpose?
Worship is a way of life. It is living everyday, doing everything to the honour and glory of God. He has given us the ability and the desire to do certain things. Our purpose is to use those abilities to the maximum and to His glory. We are not all called to do “big” things. Not everyone will have an earth-shaking, mountain-moving assignment to do in life. We will not all be leaders, pastors or presidents, but every role is important. This is further explained with Apostle Paul’s brilliant analogy in 1Corinthians 12. Our body parts perform different functions, but no part is diminished in value because of size or function. The tongue is smaller than the arm, but the arm cannot perform the taste function of the tongue. And what’s more, all the parts are dependent on each other; the eyes need the feet to take it to a sighted destination, the mind needs the mouth to give words to thoughts, and so forth.
It is true that some parts are more obscure than others, but they are no less valuable because of it. When we look at a person, we immediately see their face, hands, and legs, but we cannot see their heart, kidneys or lungs. These organs are the ‘behind-the-scenes’ organs. They work to ensure the proper functioning of the parts that can be seen. Even the body parts that only serve aesthetic or pleasure functions cannot be discounted.
God has given us spiritual gifts, for the edification of the body of Christ. According to 1 Corinthians 12, some people have the ability to give wise advise, some have knowledge, some have the gift of faith, some have healing and the ability to perform miracles, some have prophecy, some discernment, some have the gift of tongues some have the ability to interpret tongues, some have leadership, some have empathy, some are administrators. The Holy Spirit works these gifts in us.
Apart from spiritual gifts, we have also physical abilities and interests, and they are equally to be used for God’s glory. We have the desire and ability to do different things: run track, sing in the opera, write computer code, give rousing speeches, make scientific discoveries, crunch numbers, understand complex equations, etc. There is nothing we are able to do that has its origin outside God.
I’ve come to realise, from the parable of talents, that our talents, resources, gifts and purpose are not things we need to conduct ‘Ultimate Search: the Internal Edition’ for. When the master gave his servants bags of money, it was according to their abilities, and they knew what they were expected to do with the money. If you’re not yet sure what interests, abilities or spiritual gifts you have, what do you have an opportunity to do right now? Be a shoulder? An assistant? A friend or listener? Do it! Whatever your hands find to do, do with ALL your might. Use the gifts God has given you to the best of your ability, for the edification of the body, and to the glory of the Father. Don’t be like the lazy and wicked servant, who let fear rob him of his reward.
“All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole (duty) for every man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 [AMP]