In my last "Profile on Purpose" column, I shared with you the story of Truett Cathy, the founder of "Chick-Fil-A", and how his vision of giving kids a chance has transformed countless lives. As I was thinking about the individual I would like to feature in this month's "Profile on Purpose", I thought of several highly recognizable individuals whose lives have been lived with purpose and passion. As I asked myself which of these individuals' stories would have the greatest impact on my readers, something occurred to me. You, my brilliant and gifted reader, have a story of life purpose that will be more meaningful that any story I can tell.
When you read the last sentence I just wrote, many of you probably agreed. Many of you have found your life's vision and purpose and are living it with great joy. However, some of you read that sentence and said, "What is he talking about? Me? Brilliant and Gifted? I have a story to tell about what?" To those of you who have found your life's calling and purpose, congratulations! I would love to hear more about it. To those of you who are still seeking, I am EXCITED for you. What a joyous journey to begin! Let's do it together. How? Read on.
Discovering and living your life purpose is a process...a journey. You have a divinely inspired purpose, a purpose for which you were specially created, just waiting to be discovered and played out. By following a few simple steps (the process is simple, but not always easy to do), you can be on your way to living out this special calling. Over the next few months, I will be sharing these life-purpose steps with you. This month, we will focus on what I call Step 1: Discernment and Discovery.
The Purpose Steps
Step 1: Discernment and Discovery
"Discern" simply means "to perceive" or "to recognize". The first step to understanding your life purpose is "to perceive"; to make a conscious effort to be looking and listening to life and to God. Here are some ways to put yourself into a place in which you can discern and discover your purpose:
Pray and meditate - Create a time and place of "quietness" each day for yourself. Spend time meditating, being still, being quiet, asking God to show you the divine purpose for which He created you. Listen and observe your thoughts. The key to this step is to let go of your natural desire to direct your thinking. Simply ask God to speak to you. Then be still, be quiet, and observe.
Explore yourself - Work on gaining a better understanding of the gifts, interests, and passions you were given. What really excites you? What do you enjoy doing? When was the last time you were "in the flow"? ("In the flow" is the state we've all been in at one time or another in which the task or work we were doing consumed us, in joy, to the point that we lost track of the time we had spent on the task.) What are you really good at doing? What work have you been complimented on in the past? Exploring these aspects of yourself will give you insight into the brilliant knowledge, skills, or passions you were naturally given to live out your purpose. A life purpose coach can also provide you with assessments or inventories to complete that will help you clarify these interests, skills, and passions.
What is the world's deepest need that you can provide? One of my favorite quotes comes from Frederick Buechner, a twentieth-century Presbyterian minister and American author, which says, "The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." In other words, often God's call for your life is to use the skills, talents, and passion he gives you to meet a deep need in the world, society, your family, or your church. What knowledge, skills, passions, or interests that you have identified in yourself are deeply needed in your world or your community?
Pray and meditate - Notice that we started this discernment and discovery process with prayer and meditation. Part of our job of finding our purpose is to think about ourselves (our skills, passions, interests) and what parts of ourselves are most needed by God in the world, but this entire process should start, end, and be woven together by our calling to God for his guidance and our listening for His call for our lives.