When it comes to finding our purpose, many, including myself, are caught up in the wrong things.
We misunderstand what it is we’re asking God for and end up working towards goals that haven’t been destined for us.
Then we start wondering why things aren’t working out the way we feel they should.
People of all ages struggle with identifying their purpose, but it seems more predominant amongst young adults who are suddenly faced with the pressures of making career decisions after years of simply cruising through the education system. It’s a daunting task- I speak from experience here. Often times we’re just looking in the wrong places and asking the wrong people. ‘Find my career’ quizzes won’t help you. 20 minutes with a careers advisor won’t help you. Magic Ball 8 won’t he- okay, you get the point.
Defined by Dictionary.com as ‘any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate’ or as ‘a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for anything’, we can simply conclude that your passion is the thing you love. Your passion is what you couldn’t imagine being without; something you would probably do free of charge, whether or not anyone else cared or needed it; it is often a result of a gift/s or natural ability/ies you have and is often something you have decided to do by choice.
For example, Beyoncé was born with a supernatural voice. Beyoncé was singing long before she became the international superstar she is now- free of charge! King Bey couldn’t be King Bey if someone told her to stop singing- trust me, I’ve discussed this with her privately! If you don’t believe me, that’s fine, let’s take one of my favourite aunties, Jackie Aina; long before she hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube she was making beauty videos because she was passionate about makeup. Just like many Beauty Vloggers, when she started she was producing the content we all love free of charge. I’m sure you can think of at least one thing you are passionate about…
The pain many feel is as a result of confusing their passion and their purpose- it’s a common mistake. The reality is that your purpose may not give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that your passion gives you- it might end up causing you pain and frustration. Even before identifying purpose, pain can stem from the feelings of hopelessness, confusion and emptiness that come with feeling uninspired or worthless when you have no major end goal to work towards. I personally felt like I was wasting my days if I wasn’t working towards the purpose that was destined for me and it led to a lot of frustration, stress and bitterness- especially towards those that seemed to have life all figured out.
Defined by Dictionary.com as ‘the reason for which something exists of is done, made or used’, it’s not difficult for someone to understand why this is such an important concept to many people. Let me clear up some common misunderstandings you may have about your purpose:
*for the benefit of this post, please take ≠ to mean ‘not ALWAYS equal to’
Purpose ≠ Talent/Natural Ability
Purpose ≠ Passion
Purpose ≠ Long Term Goal
Purpose ≠ Your Own Choice
Purpose ≠ What You Want/ Selfish Needs
Purpose ≠ Career/Source of Income
Purpose ≠ Easy Task/s
A glance at scripture…
Don’t believe me? Not to worry, I have some examples from the great book of knowledge.
Let’s look at Moses; his purpose was to be used by the Lord to save the Israelites. To do this he needed to have the qualities of a leader- we already know that this wasn’t the case; Moses knew it too and even questioned his God-given purpose. His purpose didn’t pose a direct benefit to him, after all, he was royalty, my man could have been jamming in peace. Moses' purpose wasn’t his choice but rather something God instructed him to do. His purpose was not founded on his existing skill set- he wasn’t a born leader. Moses was put through tests and trials to prepare and equip him for his purpose. Because our passions tend to be things we are naturally drawn to or good at, we seem to be discouraged when we’re fulfilling our purpose but everything isn’t smooth sailing.
When it comes to purpose, it’s almost guaranteed that everything will not be smooth sailing- do not be disheartened! The Bible also makes it quite clear that Moses didn’t necessarily enjoy fulfilling his purpose, Pharaoh and those Israelites made his job everything but easy! You may not enjoy your purpose- but it’s what you were made for, it’s your destiny so it will be worth it in the end! Not everything in life is cookies and cream!
Unlike Moses, Rahab is a biblical figure whose purpose can be argued to be short term. She provided hospitality for the two spies sent by Joshua to help fulfil God’s plan- although this may have undoubtedly had a long-term impact on the rest of her life, the act itself and the actions required to perform it were relatively short term in comparison to Moses who dedicated the remainder of his life to leading the God’s children. Harbouring spies did not become her full-time job despite being her purpose.
Joseph, on the other hand, was given a purpose that aligned with his natural (God-given) abilities and even that didn’t become his career, but it led him there.
I wish I had known this all sooner…
For years, I had been praying for God to reveal my purpose to me and I'll be honest and say that I was hoping it would come up in a dream, or a revelation through someone in church, or I'd stumble across something online or in a book, you know, the typical Hollywood movie type enactment of how one discovers their purpose. That's obviously not what happened but what God did tell me was that I was looking in the wrong place.
I grew up as a massive Destiny's Child fan, in interviews they told viewers to chase their dreams (passion). When I watched these interviews, I was witnessing three young girls who had the natural ability to sing, evolve into successful girl group that had sold millions of records, made a living and become famous doing what they loved. This gave me the impression that my purpose, just like theirs, would be rooted in something I was naturally able to do better than others, that I could make a living off and become majorly successful. For some, this may be the case. But just like with Moses, this may not be in the cards for you.
God has a plan!
We all know the saying that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. But have you ever once asked God to equip you for something you didn't want to do?
I'm guilty of asking God multiple choice questions. I go to Him in prayer and tell Him my concerns, then hand him a list of options to choose from for when He is ready to answer. The same goes for my purpose. I knew there were many things I didn't enjoy. I could only think of about one thing I did enjoy- but I wasn't naturally good at it. So, I gave God a list of things I wasn't naturally good at but felt were good for me and asked God to call me to those things so that I could then be equipped. Of course, God completely ignored me.
So, when God was being silent I asked man. *le sigh*. Man told me to think about what I loved, couldn't live without and would do for free. My answer was sleep. So now what? My purpose in life is to sleep? I think not. My advice: when dealing with things like purpose, take in what the world tells you with a pinch of salt. Remember that God already has all the answers to your questions, even those you haven’t asked yet.
Final Words… Phew!
Be careful not to confuse your purpose and your passion despite there being some instances where they may overlap. If you are truly set on fulfilling your destiny, you must first develop a heart of obedience so that when God reveals it to you, you will be ready and willing to accept and work towards it. I mentioned in Pursuing Purpose that focussing on God will surely help you – whether it’s your purpose for that particular day or for life, let God lead you- pain is not part of His plan for you!