For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
When a TV crew interviewed people on the streets, they asked, “What is your purpose in life?” Not expecting the question, some scratched their heads and said, “I’m not sure.” One man said, “I don’t think I could answer that question until I’m dead,” which would be something like not knowing that you were supposed to put the ball through the hoop at the end of the court until after the basketball game was over. Some spoke of their family’s figuring large in the purpose of their lives.
But the majority of people, however, quickly answered, “Fun! That’s what life’s about, having as much fun as possible!” I’ve been thinking about that question, “What’s the purpose of your life?” and I’ve concluded that the majority of people just don’t get it. Why did God put you on this Earth, and what are you supposed to accomplish while you occupy space on this planet?
The fisherman who casts his line or net into the water knows exactly what his purpose is: to catch fish. The athlete knows that the purpose of the game is to move the ball across the goal line, or to defeat his opponent. The doctor who scrubs for surgery knows exactly why he is doing surgery. He intends to save the life of his patient. But amazingly enough when it comes to the most important part of existence, the vast majority of people are uncertain what their purpose is, what life is all about.
The fact is that every person is driven by something. Whether it is money, the desire to be recognized, the hope that life will provide leisure or fun, the anticipation that you can reach the top, guilt, fear, greed or whatever, something drives your life. Something motivates you. Do you know what it is?
Tom Landry, one of the most successful football coaches ever to field a team, said that the challenge of coaching could be boiled down to a one-sentence job description: “To get people to do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve.” His purpose in coaching was well defined. No wonder he was successful.
There’s a line in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland which goes, “If you don’t know where you are headed, any road will get you there.” In sports when a question of purpose comes up, there is some kind of a board, a rule book, a referee, or a committee who decides. Somebody has to say, “This is the way it is,” whether people like it or not. Is it possible that so many folks today are uncertain of what life’s purpose is—apart from having fun—because they have ignored the rule book and have closed their minds to the counsel of the Creator?
Why did God put you here? Obviously, God has some purpose, some intention, something for you to do. And until you bring God into the picture, you will never fully understand what life is about. He’s the missing ingredient, the key to purpose which many—possibly you as well—have never found.
Three guidelines can help you bring the whole issue into focus. Guideline #1: Recognize what’s been driving your life so far. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,” advised Paul (Ephesians 5:15). Take inventory. Guideline #2: Realize God has a purpose for your life. You are no accident, no chance happening. As you bring Him into your life, you begin to see why there has to be more purpose than the span of 70 years which the average person lives.
Then Guideline #3: Receive the fullness of life which God intends you to have. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” wrote Paul to the Philippians (1:21). He knew what made his life worth living. And how would you define your life purpose? You have one. Find out what it is.
Resource reading: Philippians 1:20-30