Have you ever come across someone who’s faith seems unshakable? Their peace and joy always intact? These are indications of a purpose driven life. We’ve all met these people – their personality has a magnetic quality. After an interaction with them you walk away feeling lighter. We wonder…what is different about them?
The difference is, they live a purpose driven life. What in the world is a purpose driven life and how do we get one?
What is a Purpose Driven Life?
Salvation is a requirement, but doesn’t necessarily lead to a purpose driven life. What I mean is this… I spent my whole life saved by grace, redeemed and sealed for eternity and still didn’t live out God’s purpose for my life. It’s not that I didn’t want to live God’s purpose for me, I just didn’t know how to. There seemed to be a secret ingredient and I didn’t know what it was.
So I plugged along doing things my own way. God’s way of doing things seemed unfair and I didn’t really feel like it. More often than not, I would blaze my own trail all together. I was living the opposite of a purpose driven life. It was more like a “self” driven life. Self centered firmly fixes our eyes on our feelings, desires and experiences. There really isn’t a lot of concern with obedience to God’s Word or others in a self centered life. A purpose driven life is Christ-centered, not self centered. In my self focused life I found myself frustrated and lacking the blessings of a purpose driven life. Let’s take a look at the differences.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” ~Romans 12:1
We are made to glorify God. He has made everything in this world and it’s all His. It’s All. About. Him. A self-centered life glorifies self and makes it all about self. When I look at all the markers (see above) of these two perspectives on life, I wonder why in the world I have the propensity to choose “me” and my way over and over again.
It’s so tempting and easy to get wrapped up in my own feelings, my own desires, and my own experiences.
“The world says love yourself, grab all you can, follow your heart. Jesus says deny yourself, grab your cross and follow me.” ~Francis Chan
A Christ-centered life is a purpose driven life. It’s choosing His ways over my own. Check out what I mean…
Everyday we are faced with literally hundreds of choices. The moment our alarm goes off in the morning we choose to get up or hit snooze. We make choices all day long. Those choices pertain to our thoughts, feelings and actions. See the fork in the road? That’s the point of decision. We choose God’s way or our own way. When we choose His way we are living for His glory. Blazing the trail of my way, is seeking myself over all else. What we treasure in our heart drives our choices. What do you treasure most?
The Opposite of a Purpose Driven Life
Back to the question, “what makes my way so tempting?” The answer is… Quick wins! In the short run, my way works and satisfies my desires. But over time it doesn’t pay off. In the long run, I will experience the markers of the “me” centered list. Meaning, I’m doing life my way and wondering why I feel so frustrated and empty. Ummm, cause I’m not living out the purpose God created me for.
“But the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.” ~Proverbs 13:15b
Choosing God’s way at the point of decision is challenging in the short run. It requires acting contrary to our flesh and releasing our desires. We’re also less likely to see immediate results. But!… In the long run we get to see immense blessings when we live out God’s purpose for us. That is what a purpose driven life is. Doing what we were made for…bringing glory to God.
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:30
Examples of a “Purpose Driven Life” versus a “Me Centered Life”
I. Susie and John have been married 11 years. Last night they got into another argument over the money. Susie is a spender and John is a saver. In an effort to reduce the stress of finances they created a budget together. Susie does not follow the budget as they agreed and now John has to choose how he thinks in response to the situation.
The more John thought about it the angrier he got. He assumed she was just being careless as always and didn’t care about his feelings at all. When Susie walks in he demands to know what happened in a raised voice. Before she could explain he storms out of the room.
John was able to offload all his frustration and it’s possible his angry outburst will cause Susie to think twice before disregarding the budget again.
A strong marriage is not marked by this type of response. Continued responses such as this will break down communication and connectedness.
John felt frustrated as he looked over the bank statements. The budget isn’t working as planned. Rather than assume the worst, he would wait for her to explain. While he waited he prayed for wisdom. He prayed for Susie. He prayed to be slow to anger and slow to speak.
Short run: In spite of complete frustration he responded in a way that follows God’s Word. He also entrusted the situation to God.
Suzie and John continue to have trouble negotiating the budget. But communication remains open and the grace offered keeps the marriage from breaking down. Rather than choosing bitterness, John chooses forgiveness and entrusts the rest to God.
II. Susie worked for the same company for 13 years. She diligently does her job with 110% effort. She applied for the vacant upper management position, but has found out that her less diligent coworker has been chosen for the position. Susie has to choose how she’s going to react in response to the situation.
Susie was so mad. She met her girlfriend for lunch and went on a long rant. “They only chose her because she’s friends with the boss. She doesn’t deserve the position.” (More on the power of words here.)
Susie was able to offload her anger so she felt some relief for the moment.
Her attitude eventually eroded her performance at work. She was filled with discontent and pride the more she complained about the situation.
When Susie found out she didn’t get the job she felt betrayed. “I worked so hard”, she thought. She prayed for help with her hurt, prayer to be sincerely kind in the face of this news. She trusted God had another plan for her life even though she didn’t get what she wanted.
Turning from the temptation to talk badly about her co-worker was hard. It was even harder to think God has a different plan for her life than what she desired.
Susie chose the path that kept her working diligently and trusting God more.
See how quick wins are enticing? It’s easy to head down the path of “my way”. But God’s purpose for our lives is so much greater and bears incredible reward in our day-to-day lives and relationships. A purpose driven life brings God glory by living a life clearly set apart from the norm.
“Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.” ~ Francis Chan
The Key to a Purpose Driven Life
The key to a purpose driven life is in your heart. More specifically, what do you treasure in your heart? Whatever you treasure guides your thoughts, feelings and actions.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~Matthew 6:21
A heart that treasures Christ above all else more readily chooses God’s way. So that brings us back to…
the key to a purpose driven life = treasuring Christ above all else. This the key to jumping track from doing things my own way to doing them God’s way.
How to Treasure Christ More
How do we begin to treasure Christ more? Don’t think of this as a black-and-white topic meaning either you treasure Christ or you don’t. Rather, think of it as a continuum. Don’t you find some days easier to choose a purpose driven life more than others? The goal of living a purpose driven life is better faced moment by moment.
With any relationship, carving out time to be with the one you love keeps the connection alive. Spend time in prayer and in Scripture. The more deeply aware we become of Christ’s love for us(1 John 4:19), the stronger our resolve to live a purpose driven life.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4:23
A Purpose Driven Life Snapshot
Bringing God glory is our purpose. God calls us to a purpose driven life, marked by choosing His ways, rather than our own. God’s ways are for our good and His glory. In order to choose His ways over our own, the life we live must be Christ-centered rather than self-centered. The key to a purpose driven life is in our heart’s treasure. What is your treasure?
In what areas are you tempted to blaze your own trail rather than living out your God given purpose?