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How To Find Purpose When Your Life Feels Directionless

August 16, 2021

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear or read the word “purpose”? Maybe it’s something like “be happy always” or “be successful” or “be a good Christian”. Maybe it’s that book most of us read growing up about it leading to a driven life. Those are all great things, but what if I told you our life’s purpose was something greater?

In Paul David Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies” daily devotional, he starts one entry this way: “You don’t work in the hope of getting an identity; you work in celebration of the identity that, in Christ, you have been given.”

Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Purpose is our mission statement. It’s why we do the things we do. The Bible talks a lot about being “created” and God created every single one of us for a purpose. 

Let’s make that last part of the definition a question – why do you exist? Don’t hate me too much, but let’s do a quick exercise. I know, I’m asking a lot, but just trust me here. Grab your journal or notebook, a random piece of paper, or pop open your notes app on your phone. I want you to take a minute or two (or a few more than that) and think about your purpose. Think about what your mission statement(s) would be. Jot them down. I’ll start:

  • To encourage others in their relationship with Jesus and others through my creative talents
  • To inspire others to protect God’s creation and grow everyday to do better myself
  • To disciple and pour into relationships with fellow women at my lifestage (single/dating 20somethings)

Alright, now that we have those written down and fresh in our minds let’s move to the next word we hear a lot in the church – “calling”. I know that I always thought “being called” meant being a pastor, worship leader, missionary, or leader. And it is all of those things but it’s also so much more. Some people are called to be pastors and worship leaders and missionaries. Others are called to be doctors and writers and lawyers and baristas. (You can read more about this in John Mark Comer’s “Garden City”.) That’s the beauty of callings – they aren’t boxed in.

Look back at those statements you wrote down when thinking about your purpose. If you’re anything like me, it took you a while (and LOTS of prayer time) to figure out how to add those up into a calling. 

“To encourage others in their relationship with Jesus and others through my creative talents.” I consider myself extremely fortunate to be living out my calling right now. I’m a full time Communications Manager for the church I attend. That means that everyday, I get to create content to share with others via all kinds of channels, design graphics for our various ministries, take photos, work with a talented team of dedicated creatives in their own fields, and so much more. And in my free time I get to write pieces like this for this community. Check. 

“To inspire others to protect God’s creation and grow everyday to do better myself.” I spend most of my weekends outside doing a wide variety of activities (please ask me about my new she-shed full of all kinds of rec equipment) which means I get the opportunity to clean up some local parks and waterways, share some pics on social media to encourage others to do the same, and get my friends to join in. I have the resources (mostly time to spend on Google) to invest in zero waste options for my daily life. Check. 

“To disciple and pour into relationships with fellow women at my lifestage.” I have the amazing opportunity to lead a small group of my closest gal pals from church, and dig into the Word with them, pray with them, and grow in faith alongside them. Check.

That might all sound like sunshine and rainbows – and when everything is great, trust me, it is. But here’s the honest truth – we’re human and life isn’t always perfect. Which means living into our purpose and callings is hard work. 

I started writing this piece while in the middle of one of the most difficult creative ruts I’ve been in over the past few years (thankful to be finishing it a week later in a much better head space). I’m totally uninspired most of the time. Things that usually excite me to create just don’t sometimes. I’m actively working at getting that inspiration back and resting in the peace that I know it will come back, but it’s a good test of patience and trust in God. My routine was totally disrupted from a long vacation followed by a move into a new home. Not only is that a big factor into why I just couldn’t be creative, but I realized this week that moving is super wasteful. And I bummed myself out. Especially since my new place doesn’t have recycling. Our small groups take breaks in the summer which means I haven’t been seeing my girls as much and most of our communication has been through quick catch up texts and the occasional lunch after church when we mostly end up at the same service. 

The beautiful thing about the purposes God gives us is that we grow in them and that they evolve and change as we do.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “Kat this isn’t feasible for me. I’m working a job that I need to pay my loans or make ends meet.” And that’s okay. That’s more than okay. Because your purpose doesn’t have to be your full time job. Your mission right now could be to serve the homeless in your city. It could be to serve your immediate family every night after dinner by praying with them. It could be to join a Bible study and dig into Scripture and one day lead your own. It could be pouring into the kids on a local little league team or soccer camp on the weekends. 

Maybe you’re thinking that you’re totally unsure what to answer. When we did that exercise all you had to write down was a question mark. And that’s okay. That’s more than okay. Because it doesn’t just happen overnight. And I’ll let you in on a secret – you don’t have to have it figured out. And your calling most likely will change over time. Looking back, I realize that where I am today was a process spanning over almost a decade. It started when the career I’d always thought I wanted – to be a marine biologist or veterinarian – fell through my senior year of high school when a thing called the BP oil spill happened a few years prior and killed the job market, followed by the realization that animals would die on my watch. So I went into college not knowing what I would major in. Little did I know then, God was actually working on me – steering me towards a major made up of things I enjoyed doing and could excel in, some internships and my first full-time job to get experience, and ultimately, when I wanted a job that had more “purpose”, working full-time at the church I called home.

Right now, my callings are one thing. Growing up, my purpose was to be the best student and daughter I could be, to share my faith with my friends in school, and grow on the worship team I was a part of. I pray that one day my calling will be to be the best wife and mom to my family. That it will be creating floral arrangements in my retirement to make people smile. That it will be volunteering to rehab marine animals. If you’re struggling to discern it, go to God. Spend some time dwelling with him, whether that’s reading your Bible, sitting in stillness while listening, journaling your prayers. He’ll reveal it to you. 

Maybe you’re living out your calling right now and living the dream. That’s awesome. Encourage others and maybe mentor others to discover their purpose and discern their calling. Become a person someone goes to for discipleship. Help them live out their calling for the Kingdom work they’re created for.

This world is such a beautiful place full of created individuals. It’s full of people figuring out what they’re created to do and people leaning fully into their created purpose. People at the peak of their calling and people in the transition between callings. 

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you always remember that God created you in His image. He created you for a purpose and calling only you can fulfill. He created you to be part of His kingdom here on earth. My prayer is that no matter where you’re at now or in a few years from now, you remember that you are fully loved and fully known, even when you don’t have all the answers.

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