What Should I Do with My Life? (5 Simple Questions That Reveal Your Purpose)
Don't Waste Your Life
I heard this message from Perry Noble, senior pastor and founder of Newspring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. During the "Don't Waste Your Life" series, Perry covered various topics that we deal with in today's society, namely the myriad distractions that keep us from living the purpose-driven life that God meant for us to live.
I found this series to be especially interesting, as I had been keenly aware of all of the distractions in my life and the world around me for some time. This message, in particular, was very appropriate for me as I had been out of work for a while and was lacking direction. Perry's five questions are simple, yet powerful, and they have elicited much inner dialogue that continues to inspire me today.
I must add that I do not equate "purpose" with "job". I believe your purpose is much greater than any job or career you will ever have, but it is important to find purpose in the tasks that you spend the majority of your time doing. If you get paid to do meaningful work, consider yourself very blessed!
While this message comes from a Christian perspective, I believe that people of any faith can find meaning and inspiration from this discussion.
1. What Do I Enjoy?
This question is straightforward and fairly obvious. What do I enjoy? Think of all of the things, topics, and activities that bring you joy. Music, drawing, organization, architecture, hiking, cooking, animals, etc. There is a reason you enjoy the things you enjoy. Is it your background, the things your family enjoyed while you were growing up, that causes you to like these things today? Maybe you like them because you are good at them. Consider for a moment, that God created a pleasurable response within you for a greater purpose.
2. What Do I Do Well?
What are you good at? As Perry points out, "If you say nothing, you are offending God." In other words, what comes easily to you? Often, we are not aware of our gifts because we assume that the things that come naturally to us are easy for everyone. Not true! Maybe you are good with computers, handling money, or spotting errors in a text. All of these skills might point to work that you should be doing in the world.
3. What Bothers Me?
What breaks your heart and the heart of God? This question has been especially important to me. As human beings and Christians, we want to leave the world a better place. There is important work to be done. However, there are so many problems that the scope is overwhelming. The key is to hone in on a few issues that you are especially passionate about. For you, it might be animal rights, saving the environment, sheltering the homeless, etc. The work you were put on the earth to do will have eternal significance. Who (or what) are you helping? As Perry said, "When you find your misery, you'll find your ministry."
4. What Opportunities Are In Front Of Me Right Now?
What problems do you see around you right now? Maybe your local food pantry is in need of some help, a middle schooler you know could use your math expertise, or you have some time to help build a school in South Africa.
Where are you in your life right now? Do you have kids? Are you single? Do you have access to resources that you could use? The circumstances in your life can create the perfect scenario for your important work. Think of the people you know who could be a source of information or a connection to get you started. God may have put the situation in front of you so that you could use your talents purposefully.
5. Who Am I Really Going to Live For?
It is so easy to be distracted and influenced by the standards of the world around us. They tell us that we are what we do, how we look, or how much money we make. We must decide, are we living to please the world or to please God by fulfilling our purpose here on earth? Perry reminds us, "You were made by God to make a difference." There are so many problems here on earth that could be solved by our talents, skills, and passions, and if you feel like you are nothing special, Perry reminds us that "God majors in using screw-ups." There are many examples of this in the Bible. You may not be perfect, but you may be perfect for the situation.
Think deeply about these questions. Answer them in a journal or discuss them with your spouse or close friend. Perhaps nothing has worked out or turned out the way you planned because you have been listening to the wrong voice. Quiet the ego and let your spirit come forth. The world needs you.
"Stop giving Him our plans, and start giving Him our hands."
- Five Questions that Will Help Me Not Waste My Life : the full sermon (starts at around 22 min.)
- Newspring Church: main website where you can watch live services as well as previous ones
- Pastor Perry Noble's Blog: the pastor's thought-provoking, yet amusing blog