Knowing your purpose in life will give the peace you're seeking

Knowing your purpose in life is one of the keys to happiness, but we often stress out so much worrying whether we're doing the right thing that we ruin our joy.

Everybody wants to know their future. One pastor once remarked that if he wants to fill the building, all he has to do is announce that he's giving a sermon on finding the will of God for your life.

At least in my own case, I've discovered that getting clear, specific guidance isn't as easy as it sounds. Too often I've felt like I was fumbling along, feeling my way in the dark.

Your purpose in life seems to change

When we're young, we all think we're going to find our life's calling, then we'll be happy. The problem is, your purpose in life seems to change. It doesn't seem the same from beginning to end.

sad man

Our employer would like us to believe that working for them and contributing to the company's success is our calling. Not even close! If you believe that, just ask anybody who has ever been laid off.

When I was in my mid-30s, I got laid off because the company I worked for was downsizing. I had gotten good performance reviews from my boss. The vice president of our division even told me personally that I had done a great job. But I was low on seniority in the department, so out the door I went.

That's when I realized, painfully, that my purpose in life was not making an employer more money. I had merely been a part of the machine, and an expendable part at that. If that sounds cynical, it's actually a self-protecting attitude that can save you a lot of heartache if you ever get laid off.

Don't get me wrong. I've always been conscientious about my work, but I realized in a hurry that it was not my true purpose in life. In today's economy, jobs come and go, but your purpose in life is constant.

Single people who get married believe that making their marriage work is their purpose in life. Or some may believe being a good parent is their purpose. But what happens if you get divorced or your spouse dies? Then what?

Your purpose in life goes beyond yourself

I doubt that it's true with you, because you're a different kind of person if you're reading this article, but many young people today believe having fun and enjoying themselves is their purpose in life. They see work as a boring means to an end: paying the bills. They live for their time off, time to play. girl meditating

But as I've often said on this site, fun is not happiness. Don't confuse the two. Fun is necessary, yes. It relieves stress and gives you something to look forward to, but it doesn't last. The effect wears off.

Depending on the kind of fun you have, you may find that the need for more or better or faster or more intense fun escalates. What used to satisfy you or excite you doesn't work any more, so you have to kick it up a notch. So we find thrill junkies taking dangerous risks or going to more expense for a bigger experience.

Don't go there.

Some of us think that because we're single, we don't have any responsibilities. We only have our self to account for and no one to answer to. We have freedom to do things married people don't, and that's where many single people get into trouble.

But that's a subject for another article. What I'm driving at here is that your purpose in life goes beyond yourself. We singles tend to be selfish enough. We can be better when we understand that our purpose is not self-satisfaction.

Your purpose in life is your compass

So what should your purpose in life be? What is constant, no matter your state in life? What is the will of God for each of us, a specific purpose we can be confident about, and know that we are correct in following?

Jesus summed it up, very clearly:

    ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)

This is our purpose in life. It works at any age. It works whatever your occupation or if you have no job. It works if you're single or married. It will guide the decisions you make and the things you achieve. It's easy to understand, but not always so easy to do.

If you simply follow these two commandments, things will fall into place. You will give God the honor and respect he deserves. You will love yourself and not beat yourself up or do self-destructive things. You will treat your neighbor with dignity and compassion, as you should yourself. You will accomplish worthwhile things.

If you make this your purpose in life, you will know happiness. You can be sure you are doing what God wants you to do. You'll be free of indecision and anxiety over whether you're doing God's will for you. You have Jesus' own assurance that this is what you should be doing.

And with that comes peace of mind.

Return to top of your purpose in life.