“I believe you have a life purpose — we all do,” writes Daniel Scott in Entrepreneur magazine.
“Since there is no other individual on the planet exactly like you that has the exact combination of nature and nurture, it seems obvious and logical that you must be capable of providing some value that nobody else is capable of providing,” he added.
Scott suggests that intrinsic purpose is so strongly instilled within us that it becomes part of our identity.
That seems to be true for people who have discovered their purpose and are intentionally pursuing it with passion. But, what about those folks who are struggling to find a purpose or others, like I was for years, who had a clearly-defined purpose at one time only to have it evaporate relatively quickly?
We must continually examine shifting pieces of the puzzle which forms a picture of our life, and then follow clues left for us to fill in the blanks from time to time. Scott wrote that we may not truly see our life’s purpose until we reach the end and look back at how our experiences and people we encountered kept nudging us toward that overall function.
Scott noted, “Your life purpose cannot be solving a particular problem or based on some circumstance that could potentially no longer exist. Otherwise, your purpose could end while you are alive and then your life will no longer have a purpose or meaning.”
I firmly believe each stage in our life is designed to serve a specific purpose and, at the same time, prepare us for new responsibilities and challenges that will emerge as we enter different seasons. Still, we remain uniquely equipped to accomplish that purpose as soon as it becomes evident.
In order to live your life purpose, Scott suggested you must be completely immersed in it otherwise you’ll be miserable and resentful. “If you are unhappy in your life or if you feel a sense of incompleteness, then you are not living your purpose, plain and simple,” he wrote.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
Perhaps the biggest detriment to identifying a purpose is that we — especially men — believe it must be a grand scheme. We are taught to “dream big or go home.”
But, what if the purpose we are designed to fulfill involves only five people? Or one?
You might not like your job and think you’re missing out on your life’s purpose. Yet, during those years, your purpose is simply to provide for a family and be there to help guide your children on their journeys to adulthood.
Your most noble purpose at that time may have been coaching your daughter’s basketball team, tending to an elderly relative or being involved with a small group of people from your church who were also struggling to make sense of that season in their lives.
Like so many others, Scott teaches that we must do whatever makes us happy. “Ask a room full of people what the meaning of life is and most answers will come back to happiness,” he wrote.
That doesn’t surprise me. However, there is a world of difference between happiness and joy.
The secret to understanding those differences lies in being content. God may have you parked in a situation that doesn’t bring you happiness at the moment, but if you embrace it with contentment, you’ll experience joy.
You may not be engaged in what the world would describe as an “essential mission,” yet to God and the people you serve, you are absolutely essential. Truly nobody is capable of providing the same type of value to your family, coworkers, neighbors and friends than you!
In his parable of the talents, Jesus taught that when you’ve proven to be reliable in little things, you’ll be given more responsibility, authority and opportunity to pursue an even bigger mission later.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” (Matthew 25:21)
So by joyfully embracing the situation you’re in right now, and doing your best to carry it out, you’re being prepared for other things down the road.
But, “I’m running out of time,” you might say.
Don’t forget, Jesus changed the world with a mission that lasted no more than three years — and it required him to invest 30 years preparing for that moment.
If you still don’t sense a compelling purpose for your life, meditate on your unique experiences, talents, skills and abilities and ask yourself whom you could serve. Purpose does not come without providing some type of service to at least one other person.
Start writing down who and what comes to mind. You’ll be surprised at how little things done intentionally can create a sense of purpose and bring fulfillment to your life. Starting small will also open the door to other opportunities later.
To read Daniel Scott’s full blog, visit www.entrepreneur.com.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.