Knowing your purpose in life will clarify all the decisions you make

Knowing your purpose in life is confusing for single people. Most of us focus on one of two things: getting married or career success.

The logic works two ways. Either we concentrate on building our career, thinking there will be time for marriage later, after we’ve earned enough money and established our self, or we concentrate on finding a spouse, reasoning we might have to make accommodations to our spouse’s career.

Then there are those rare folks who seem to know what they’re going to do from the time they’re ten years old. They pursue their vocation like a laser-guided missile and nothing seems to get in their way.

Then presto! When they want to get married, a potential spouse pops up, just like magic.

For most of us, however, we see such people, scratch our heads and say, ”Huh?”

Closely tied to your purpose in life is God's will for you. Along the way, we got the notion that we can learn his plan for us, in minute detail. That's why people go to fortune tellers, but that's a whole other danger.

As you read on, you'll discover that when you learn two simple things, all the rest of life falls into place.

Your purpose in life can change

When you’re young, you think you’re going to find your life's calling, then you’ll be happy. The problem is, your purpose in life seems to change. It doesn't seem the same from graduation until you die. 

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

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-protective attitude that can save you a lot of heartache if you ever get laid off. It puts things in perspective.

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 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 true purpose in life. 

They live for their time off, time to play. They like to hang out with their friends. When they see TV commercials depicting life as one nonstop party, they believe them. They see work as nothing more than a boring means to an end: paying the bills.

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.

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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. Some people become thrill junkies taking dangerous risks or going to more expense for a bigger experience.

Please don’t live a shallow life based only on having fun.

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 adults 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 you, a specific purpose you can be confident about, and know that you are correct in following?

Jesus summed it up, very simply:

‘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)

Say what? That’s it? It’s not career, marriage, or fun?

That’s it. That is your 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.

The world will try to get you to stress out over what you own, what you wear, what you drive. You’ll constantly be told you need to be cool, hip, dope, or whatever the current term is.

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. This is a high calling. It’s a demanding challenge. It will require your full intelligence, best effort, and emotional strength to carry it out. But if you’re a Christian, God will always be there to help.

If you make this your purpose in life, you will know happiness and deep-down contentment. 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 your life. You have Jesus' own assurance that this is what you should be doing.

And with that comes peace of mind.

Clarification: Your purpose vs. God's will

Millions of people believe God's will for them is the same as their own desires for themselves. That's not necessarily true.

God has two great goals for your life: First, your salvation, and second, conforming you to the character of his Son, Jesus Christ. That's his will for you.

Your purpose, as you learned in the article above, is to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. You really can't do those things until you're saved, because a person doesn't have the power or desire to do those things on their own.

The great thing about being conformed to the character of Christ is that no one and nothing can stop you except yourself, and the Holy Spirit is eager to help you as much as you need.

The process of becoming like Jesus is called sanctification, and it's an ongoing thing. You never completely get there in this life, but you do make progress.

So the next time you think God's will for you is to be (insert your own desire here), better think again. No matter what talents he has given you, your salvation and sanctification are his top priorities.

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