Am I living out God’s purpose for my life?
By Charis Ferguson
Covid-19 has up-ended a lot of our plans. More so for some than others. Whilst many have remained in largely familiar routines during the pandemic, some have experienced loss of employment, furlough, uncertainty, or have perhaps decided to do something different with their lives. I planned to begin a training contract to become a solicitor in August, but my start date was deferred.
Whilst I am deeply grateful that a job is waiting for me in February, it has been a challenge to try and adjust to new realities. For all of us, no matter our circumstances, this year was not what we had in mind. A season in which our plans are falling through might seem a bizarre time to ask if we are living out God’s ‘purpose’ for our lives. But let’s remember that purposes and plans are not necessarily one and the same thing.
I wonder what your view of ‘purpose’ is?
Is it your job?
…your passions and skills?
…your friends and family?
I’d hedge a guess that when you think about God’s ‘purpose’ for your life, you may initially reflect on your career. I am certainly prone to this. I am reminded of a time in my early teens, sitting at the dining table with my parents and some family friends. In passing, someone at the table said that they thought I could make a good lawyer. Though still very young, I took the prospect of choosing a career very seriously. I knew that I wanted to do something great with my life. I had envisioned myself as an aid worker or maybe a teacher because these seemed like ‘good’ jobs to me as a child. However, the dinner table comment sent my mind spinning… what even was a lawyer? Could law be a way to do something ‘good’ for the world?
Therefore, as I edged towards completing school, I became increasingly intrigued by the law industry and got some work experience. For me, commercial law became an obvious career route for a variety of reasons and this was solidified by encouragement from my teachers. Four years later, as I was finishing university, I still obsessively worried about whether law was God’s purpose for me. I knew I wanted to serve God wherever I ended up, but in my mind, God’s purpose for me was all about my career. Only this past summer did I spend some dedicated time thinking about my ‘calling’ and God’s purposes more widely. On reflection, I have come to realise that the purpose God has for me reaches much further than my job. Here are some things I have learned.
1. Primarily, we are called to know, love and follow the Lord Jesus
Before we are called to do anything, we are called into a relationship with God. There is a beautiful passage in Isaiah that talks about us being created and formed by God and that God has called us by name (Isaiah 43:1, ESV). Therefore, we are first and foremost children of God – this points to where our primary value lies and it also means that our relationship with God should be our primary focus.
2. We are each uniquely gifted
Romans 12:4-5 (NIV): “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…”
Whilst this passage refers specifically to spiritual gifts, I think it applies to our everyday roles and vocations too. We are unique. Each of us has different gifts and skills, and we all have different ways in which God can use us. Together, we form a body of many talents. That’s really exciting.
3. God can use us wherever we are
Each of us is placed somewhere different: our home, our community, our place of work. You can be a light in all of these places. Wherever we are, God has given us skills to use so let’s not be like the lazy servant we see in Matthew 25:26; let’s invest what has been given to us by God!
To help with this, you might ask yourself the following questions:
Where am I right now?
What are my skills and passions?
What can I be using for God’s kingdom?
How can I love and serve others with what I have, just like Jesus did?
4. Pray for God to reveal his heart
When we feel unsure if we are living out God’s purpose for us, let us be encouraged by the points above. That being said, God loves it when we ask Him to reveal His heart to us and to guide us to the places He wants us to be.
As I worried about my future career towards the end of university, God continued to open doors that made it clear to me that a career in law was something He was calling me to. Asking God to reveal to us where He wants to use us, and asking God to help us navigate our path, are intrinsic to a life walking with Him. Persevere with this one; keep asking Him. Choose to seek Him.
2020 may have turned your world upside down in more ways than one. Whatever your situation, know that your primary purpose is found in your identity. God loves you, God cares for you and he will meet your needs and “refresh your soul” (Psalm 23:2-3). No matter where you are, what job you do or do not have, know that you are living out your purpose when you know God and walk each day with Him.