By Jada Edwards

Purpose has become a buzzword, purpose-driven, purpose living, living on purpose – in church today, purpose is a huge thing but what does it mean practically? 

“Purpose” can also be misleading and sometimes one-dimensional because it is generally tied to function; for example, a chair or a set of keys each have a purpose.  Behind a purpose-driven life is the broader idea of why and who and when and what.  You really want the totality of all that you were left here on earth to do.

  1. Do the work!

    One of the practical ways we can learn to be purpose-driven is to do the work.  There are experiences that God has intentionally allowed in your life, that are mixed in with the ingredients of your temperament and your gifting.  Even the experiences that don’t make sense (Why did I get this job?, Why do I have this degree?, and Why did I move to this city?) all of these things make a beautiful mixture that God uses to craft your story.
    Highs, Lows, Heroes, Hurts – Know Your Life Story
    The first question you must answer is “Who are you?” Knowing your “why” starts with knowing your “who.”  You must decide to take the journey inward and figure out who you are.  You cannot live a life on purpose or an intentional life if you ignore all the things that made you who you are – that includes the highs and lows of your life, and who you are today.  Start with your life story – do the work!  It’s not always going to be fun – no one’s life story is filled with highlights. Start with asking questions about what your own story resonates with you.  You need to know your story before you can know what you are supposed to do with it. What are your best memories as a child? An adolescent? An adult?  Who were your heroes? Who spoke life into you?  Who were the people that hurt you?  Very often our purpose and calling is born out of our pain.
    As adults, we tend to suppress the things that are uncomfortable or unpleasant, and we instead focus on the things that just keep us moving through life. Focusing on your life story can sometimes awaken things you haven’t thought about in a long time that are actually important to how you are going to be used greatly in this life.
    Structure that story in a map, and timeline, or in whatever way is easier for you to structure what you remember in your life.
    Your purpose is about more than gifting.  Millions of people have similar gifts, but they have different stories and personalities, and those gifts will show themselves in different ways.  Practically, to find purpose, first do the work, then it is necessary to be entrenched in scripture and to be prayerful – ask God to show you who you are, but it’s important to do the work.  God left us here after salvation because He has something for us to do, and life is too short and fleeting to live a mediocre, mundane life with shallow goals like money, houses and cars.  Do the work!  Once you do the work, don’t just know your purpose, live it out!

  2. Be Intentional!

    Influence means I don’t just know why I am here, I know whose lives I am supposed to impact and what am I supposed to do with this thing God has shown me about myself.  Here is the beautiful part about influence:  It will be wherever you are!  Don’t ever use the word “just” –  you are more than “just” a mom or “just” someone who serves food at a restaurant.  That word is the killer of anything great that God wants to do with you. Your influence starts in your current sphere. Be intentional and ask God whose lives are you supposed to be impacting. 
    God Will Use Your Story, Regardless of Your Past
    I challenge you to do the work to find why God has left you here, and then be intentional about being an influencer wherever you are.  God will use your story regardless of your past; whatever it is God can use it.
    The Apostle Paul’s journey shows how God crafted and called him and set him apart from his mother’s womb.  Even when he was persecuting God’s people, and the church of God, he was still called. He had to take the journey,and have an encounter with Jesus to discover that call, and he lived out his gifting to become one the most influential writers in the Bible.
    It doesn’t matter how you start.  You may not be a church girl or guy or have a deep spiritual legacy, it doesn’t matter!  Use what you know about God, do the work, and start to influence today.  Life is too short, and one day we will stand face to face with our Savior.  He isn’t going to ask what your latest position or title was, or for your zip code.  He will ask “Did you do the thing I left you there to do?”