The world describes success as having a house bigger than your neighbor’s, a nicer car than your friend drives, a yacht tied up at your beach-side-mansion-of-a-summer-cabin somewhere in the tropics, and then some money to spare. But honestly, when I hear people talk about success, I can’t help but notice that the very definition we use for success is sooo relative: nicer car, bigger house, more toys, better beach house, bigger bank accounts.
Definition of Success
Who defines success? The world describes success by jealousy (more than he has). Problem is, we Christians adopt their definition without thinking. Is there a better definition? I’ll give you my definition: “Success is being all you were created to be!” It connects what success is to God (what He created you to be) and your very purpose in life. Now to be honest… it is easier to just take the world’s definition and simply strive to one-up your neighbors and friends, because if we take my proposed definition, we need to discover who God says we should be. After all, He is the one that created us. And discovering what God says He created us to be, takes time. Prayer, listening, meditating and reading your bible to start with.
Created for General Purpose
Each of us were created with both a general purpose, and a specific purpose in mind. From the story of Adam and Eve, we know that He created all of us for Relationship. For a vertical relationship (a relationship with Him) and horizontal relationships (relationships with each other; family, friends, and the larger community around us.) We know that He created us to be moral, men and women of good character. Those apply to all of us.
Created for Specific Purpose
But each of us were also created with more specific purposes in mind. Esau to be a hunter, Jacob to be a farmer. Later on, when God desires for the Israelites to build a temple, it says He gave some the talent to be craftsmen, some to be goldsmiths, some to be seamstresses, and some to be blacksmiths. What He gives talent for in this case, relates to the bigger picture of what God intends to do.
Finding your Purpose
I know, so now we get to discover our purpose. How do we do that? I don’t claim to have the magic formula for that. And no, I don’t have a special wand to wave over you that will reveal your purpose either. But in the course of my life, I have stumbled across a few things I will share with you.
1. It is impossible to miss your purpose in life when you live with a pure conscience.
If we keep our conscience pure God can nudge us in the right direction without any handwriting on the wall. My dad used to say, it is more important to live with a clean conscience than to live right. In other words, when our conscience is pure, we will live as right as we know how, and we are in a place where God can continue to teach us. If our conscience is not pure, then even if we think we are living right, we can’t discern the voice of the the Spirit.
2. Often it is the things that make you cry, or that frustrate you, that speak of your calling.
Do you often cry when you watch a movie? What is it that makes you cry; innocent children suffering? misunderstood youth? abused women? poverty in Africa? bad technology? bad business leadership? Maybe it is the bad music in church that frustrates you. Jesus was often moved with compassion, and then He did something about it.
3. Things that are constantly on your mind. Obsessions. Intense Interests.
Ok, so you are not the crying type. But do you have an intense interest? Something that when you do that, you lose all track of time? Nope, porn doesn’t qualify. There are interests and obsessions that take away from your purpose. Porn is an easy one, but it could be baseball, hockey, reading, or making money. Some things are great things but with the wrong motivations they become bad things. Reading is a great thing to do, but if you read Janette Oke mysteries because you wish your man was like that romantic fellow in her books and you compare your man to her cowboys, then you should probably stop reading them. Making money can finance many great things, and is something many givers are called to do. And yet, it can become a crippling focus for some.
4. Waiting on God.
We want everything now, including the vision of our lives. But waiting on God is something He will teach us somehow or another way. This seems to be the non-negotiable lesson for all of us. It is about doing what you know you can do now and then clearing the plate and trusting God for more revelation, blessing, mission or whatever it is that is needed.
Listen to the Holy Spirit
So regardless of how much I help you with discovering your purpose, nothing can shortcut the process of learning to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Easier said than done. I know, I am king of allowing myself to be distracted by a million little things and being held back by “the sins that so easily beset us.” But I strongly believe that we haven’t truly lived a successful life if we haven’t lived God’s purpose for our lives.