Discovering our purpose
Last night our church put on a steak dinner, really just an excuse to get as many men together as possible for a couple of hours. And since men seem to be biologically incapable of turning down steak, about 400 of us showed up. As if the steak wasn’t enough of a draw, they invited three NFL players from the San Diego Chargers as the guest speakers.
It was a great night of worship, fellowship, and meat. Lots of meat. The three football players – Darrell Stuckey, Danny Woodhead, and Branden Oliver – inspired us with stories of faith and life in the NFL for nearly two hours.
The format was that of a panel discussion, with two guys from the church taking turns asking the players questions. They were clearly accustomed to speaking before a large audience – making jokes, telling stories, and sharing some good words of wisdom. Although I don’t think it was intended to come together this way, the questions and answers all seemed to revolve around our purpose in life.
One thing that stood out to me was something Danny Woodhead said more than once. He wanted to emphasize that NFL players are no different than the rest of us in most respects. They have families to care for, a job to do, doubts, fears, and frustrations. They face temptations like the rest of us. And they struggle with discovering their God-ordained purpose in life, just like you and me.
As a college professor I am often asked for advice on courses, careers, even dating and marriage. One of the underlying questions, whether it is asked overtly or just skulking in the shadows, is What is my purpose in life? Everyone wants to feel like their life counts for something, like what they are doing matters beyond just today. As Christ-followers, it seems like we, of all people, should live our lives with a sense of purpose, right? But how do we discover that purpose? How do we know that what we’re doing is what we’re “supposed” to be doing?
While college is an intense time of discovering strengths and weaknesses, and developing a vision and plan for our lives, it is by no means the only time of life that we ask about our purpose. My teenage daughter is beginning to ask questions about her purpose in life, where she fits into this big world. My aging parents have similar questions, though sometimes maybe they are asked in retrospect – as in, Did I find and fulfill my purpose? Or, What is my purpose now that I am no longer contributing significantly to the economy?
It makes the most sense to me to begin this journey of discovering our purpose in life by looking at the purposes God lays out for us in the Scriptures, purposes that are for everyone. Universal purposes.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I hope you’ll join us for the next several weeks as we explore God’s purposes for us in this life. Maybe even invite a friend along on the journey. It is one that is sure to change us all.
Take-home point: We can know God’s purposes for our lives.
Take-home verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord… Jer 29:11
Questions for thought
Do you feel like you live your life with a sense of purpose?
What purpose(s) have you discovered for your life so far?
How can you come alongside someone else, maybe a friend, a co-worker, one of your children, or one of the youth at your church, to help them discover God’s good plan for their life?
Father God, we cling to your promise that our lives have purpose, that they have meaning, that we are here for a reason. As we walk through this process of reading your Word and talking to you, Lord, reveal to us your good will for our lives today. Bring to us someone we can encourage, someone we can shepherd and mentor along in the journey, not as an authority, but as fellow travelers. In Christ’s perfect name, amen.