“What I’m I here for?” is a question that everyone grapples with at some point in their lives. And as important as this question is, I believe that how we arrive at its answer is equally as important. Especially for the Christian. 

I once watched a YouTube sermon where a renowned pastor told the congregation “ God’s purpose for your life must be bigger than you. If it’s not, then you haven’t found your purpose. So you should ask God to reveal it to you.” I recall agonizing over those words later that day wondering what I had to do for God to reveal this “bigger than me” purpose that He supposedly had for me.

Such sermons are all too common these days, encouraging Christians to have a  “dream” or a “vision”, usually something unique and grandiose. Some preachers even go as far as to make it a salvation matter. They assert that the extent to which you can dream and achieve big things has a bearing on whether you are saved or not. Sounds to me like a rehashing of the “prosperity gospel” doesn’t it?

Anyways, after carefully examining this teaching through the lens of the scriptures, I am fully convinced that this ted-talk type understanding of purpose doesn’t belong on the pulpit. Here’s why:

It’s a self-centered view of Purpose

The reason why this teaching has infiltrated even the sacred spaces of faith is because sermons on having a “vision” are appealing. The idea that God has placed “greatness” inside of you and that it’s your responsibility to use it to make an impact in His Kingdom and the world strokes our ego.

Why? Because greatness, in this case, is in correlation to personal success. I mean, who are we kidding? The fact is the teachings on the necessity to fulfill one’s “purpose” are always man-centered, self-serving, lofty, and hardly ever Gospel-centered. But this self-centered idea of the Christian life is not what the Bible teaches. For the Bible says.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV 
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, Titus 2:11-12 ESV

Therefore, despite how wonderful the idea that “God’s got something special for me” seems, a biblical analysis reveals that the “purpose” rhetoric is vain, misleading, and distracting. It only seduces Christians to pursue “an Instagram-worthy life”, which is in stark contrast to the path of endurance, humility, and devotion that Jesus exemplified.

Moreover, it shifts the emphasis away from finding complete satisfaction in Christ and obeying His commands. Only serving to encourage Christians to aspire to achieve earthly success.

A read cup of coffee next to the following words" what is my purpose?" engraved on a piece of wood.

It places a burden on God’s people

This kind of teaching does one of two things. It’s either going to play up to your ego or put a heavy burden on you. 

Suppose you have a normal job or you’re a stay-at-home mom who goes about doing her everyday mundane tasks faithfully. And you happen to hear your pastor preaching that you need to find the unique purpose that God has for your life and that somehow you’re selling yourself short if you’re not chasing after some extraordinary and monumental dream. Chances are, you’ll start feeling like you’re a low-life Christian who doesn’t have a great thing going on for them.

Consequently, you might find yourself contemplating, “Am I supposed to be doing more than I’m already doing?”. “Am I in the wrong place?”. “Is there a chance that I’m missing out on God’s purpose for my life?”. Before you know it, you’ll start heaping pressure on yourself to live up to what the world regards as a purposeful life so that you can feel significant.

You see, the prevailing cultural mindset has saturated us with such concepts as “greatness, purpose, legacy, Impact, ” that we “feel” irrelevant when these terms aren’t used to define us. This leads to a sense of dissatisfaction, especially with regard to where God has currently placed us. Consequently, sucking the joy out of Christian living.

But God hasn’t put that kind of pressure on us. In 1 Corinthians, the Bible says,

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise, he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. 1 Corinthians 7:17‭-‬24 ESV

Some Christians in Corinth were slaves at the time they became born again. And they were debating whether they should seek to be free now that they were Christians. 

Paul’s encouragement to them was that they should remain as they were. That was His rule to all the churches. In other words, he was saying to the slaves that conversion to Christianity didn’t necessitate forsaking their current roles in pursuit of something perceived as more “meaningful” or “significant.” Unless God directed them otherwise, they were to serve him where they were. 

In His sovereignty, God calls us to different occupations at different seasons of our lives. So, whether you are a stay-at-home mum, lawyer, doctor, painter, nurse, student, teacher, truck driver, mechanic, etc. Embrace where you are. Don’t let the pressure to achieve something “significant” overshadow the beauty of where God has placed you at this moment. Instead, let’s heed the apostle Paul’s wisdom, finding contentment in where we are and seeking to glorify God in every endeavor.

Plus think about it… If we all disregarded our present callings for something great, then who is going to wait at our favorite restaurants, repair our cars, pick up the trash, etc.? The fact is, those everyday roles we might take for granted have a starring role in the grand production of society.

The average, routine activities of life might be seen to be the very things that bring glory to God and set forward His purposes.
Alistair Begg

It’s also crucial to remember that God is sovereign. The Bible says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” ( Prov 16:9). Proverbs 19:21 also says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand”. So we don’t need to worry about discovering or even missing our unique “purpose.”

God will see to it that we carry out His will for our lives. All we have to do is carry out the assignment that He has already given us. 

Related: Should Christians Look Outside the Bible to Discern God’s Will?

It’s a worldly understanding of Purpose

The idea that God has a great purpose for you is a concept that is borrowed from the self-help industry. Contrary to achieving worldly greatness and success, man’s chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It’s that simple. And if God were to enable us to achieve something great by human standards, it would be for HIS purposes not ours.

On numerous occasions, Paul wrote to slaves and their masters in the New Testament. And as you can imagine the slaves were not exactly living the “American dream.”  They were living everyday normal lives just like you and me. But far from encouraging them to achieve something “significant”, Paul encouraged them to seek to glorify God in their present calling. For he wrote:

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:22-24 ESV
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Ephesians 6:5-9 ESV
Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. Titus 2:9-10 ESV

The life of a believer in Christ should be led by these 10 words, “Whatever you do, do it as if unto the Lord”. These wise words reverberate throughout the scriptures (Col 3:17; 1 Cor 10:31; Eph 5:22; 6:6-7; Matt 25:40; 1 Pet 2:13), reminding us that even the most mundane tasks are an opportunity to serve God.

Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things were created through him and for him.” The goal of life is not to pursue earthly ambition and achieve personal satisfaction. We were created through and for Christ to bring glory and honor to Him. That’s the purpose of our existence. That’s why we are here. 

It encourages Christians to find fulfillment in something else other than Christ

In this fast-paced world fueled by ambition and the endless pursuit of personal success, it’s easy to get caught up in its relentless rat race. As if running on a hamster wheel, we are prone to chasing worldly achievements, hoping they will bring us the ultimate fulfillment. And as if that’s not enough, the burden of chasing grandiose dreams can leave us feeling inadequate and overwhelmed.

But here’s the reality check: our purpose in life isn’t tied to worldly achievements. And we will never be content if we try to find our identity in them. No matter how much success we accumulate, it won’t magically fill the human void we all have inside.  Even the most successful folks admit they still feel that gnawing emptiness.

But hey, if you won’t take it from them, perhaps you should take it from a man who had it all. Unimaginable wealth, unparalleled intellect, a harem of beautiful women, and a luxurious palace. I’m talking about none other than King Solomon.

Now, you’d think with all this grandeur and success, he must have found the secret to a meaningful life, right? Wrong! In the book of Ecclesiastes, we see this wise and wealthy king Solomon couldn’t help but ponder the meaning of life. And guess what he concludes? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2) The irony! Even with everything anyone could possibly desire, Solomon discovers that it’s all just a pursuit of empty, hollow things. 

Clearly, earthly success and greatness were never intended to satisfy us and determine our self-worth. Instead knowing that we are children of God who have been bought at a hefty price should. Nothing compares to the delight of knowing Jesus!! Our identity is anchored in what He did for us on the Cross. Not in what we can accomplish through our purpose.

In the end, Solomon summed up the purpose of life in this profound conclusion, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecc 12:13).

Final Thoughts

Needless to say, the question “What am I here for?” finds its resounding answer in the Scriptures. Our purpose is not a destination to be hunted down. It’s a journey of daily obedience, marked by a heart that seeks to glorify its Creator. So, let us embark on this purposeful journey, knowing that our steps are guided by a sovereign God who orchestrates our path and invites us to discover profound meaning in who we are in Christ.

Please Note: This blog post doesn’t imply that Christians shouldn’t pursue personal development or professional growth and advancement. It’s simply addressing the unbiblical nature of the “every Christian is called to achieve a great purpose” teaching.

Author

Share this article on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.