I have been thinking a lot, and talking with others a lot, about how we can figure out what God’s purpose is for our lives. Understanding why exactly God put us on the planet at this precise time in history? I believe that God honors our attempts to seek His will for our lives. In fact, I think He desperately wants us to know it. And while you and I may not be able to find any verses in the Bible with our names in them, there are several clear signals we can consult as we seek God’s plan for our lives.
Recently, in a small group of pastors that I meet with on a weekly basis for the sole purpose of mentoring, I challenged the guys to take some time to consider their unique purpose. We took a week to prayerfully write down some memories; good moments, bad moments, and God moments. I had them do this to give them a chance to look back and see where God had intervened and moved in times past to form them into who they are today. I sincerely believe that when we understand where we’ve been and how God has been alongside us each step of the journey, we can better determine what His plan is for us in the future.
Looking at that future, and determining specifically what God’s will is for our lives is a pretty big endeavor. I want to provide a bunch of questions that one can ask to probe for clues about God’s intentions when He created you. I’m going to give eight key categories for figuring out God’s will and purpose for your life. I think that as you reflect on these areas, as they pertain to your life, you’ll begin to see common themes that point to God’s purpose for you. I encourage those reading this, as I have the pastors that I’m mentoring, to sincerely and prayerfully dive into the following. Perhaps, even journal what God is showing you.
There is no place where God has spoken more directly to the issues in our lives than in Scripture. This is the cornerstone of our search for our purpose. Because of God’s Word, we don’t need to ask if it’s God’s will for us to cheat on our taxes, or become a drug dealer, or divorce our spouse to marry someone else. In addition to the obvious dos and don’ts, there are many principles that suggest how life is supposed to work. The more you and I know about Scripture, the easier it is to discern God’s will. I often ask folks to prayerfully consider what their five favorite Bible verses are and to write them out. Why those five? What makes them so special? Have they ever considered what it is about those particular verses that makes them stand out? Could it be that those specific verses ignite something inside them that the Lord is uniquely wanting to do in them and through them?
If you were to ask the mentors in your life, what would they say you should do? Preferably, you should ask people you trust, people who have already been where you aspire to go, and people who have nothing to gain or lose by your decision. Iron sharpens iron. If God is leading you toward something, He will often confirm it through the suggestions of others you trust.
How has God used you in the past? Did it seem like His hand was on your efforts? Which ones were successful? Did you gain valuable experience that would be helpful in a similar arena now? You may already be doing what God wants you to do. And even if you aren’t, God almost always gives us a track record that leads logically toward the areas where He will use us in the future. One of the best indicators of the future is often the past.
What makes you passionate? Are there certain things that seem to bring fulfillment or awaken your ambitions? If money were no object, where would you choose to focus your time and energy? These can be important clues as to where God would have you apply yourself.
What special gifts or skills are you equipped with? Are there abilities that stand out in you which could indicate a function you might perform in the world? What are the things you do best? Is there anything that comes effortlessly for you while others struggle to keep pace? What can you do that no one else can? Sometimes God gives us special talents so that we can perform certain skills that support His master plan.
What resources or possessions do you have that can be leveraged? Do you have money, a position of influence, a vehicle, or an education that could be a building block for something you pursue? Perhaps you have key relationships with certain people that might be useful in developing one of your passions into an idea, a program, or a business. Could it be that God has given you access to resources that will play an important role in unfolding His plan for your life?
What opportunities are sitting on your doorstep today? What opportunities are looming on the horizon? Have new doors opened? Have old ones closed? Might these be an indication of where God is taking you next? Change can be intimidating. But God will often use our circumstances to open doors in our life or to close them.
Are there certain environments in which you tend to thrive? Is there a certain area of the country, or part of the world that gets your juices flowing? Do you have a favorite city? Are there particular people or personality types that make you productive? Is there a certain office arrangement or housing situation that enables you to flourish? Sometimes these factors are decided for us, are limited by finances, or must defer to other priorities. But sometimes our preferred environments can lead us toward God’s plan for our lives.