When Wayne was just six years old, his father built an ice rink in the family’s backyard in Ontario, Canada. Why? “It was for self-preservation,” his father, Walter, said. “I got sick of taking him to the park and sitting there for hours freezing to death.” All his son wanted to do was play ice hockey. He had been skating and playing hockey since the age of two, and by the time he was six he was competing in youth leagues far above his age group. When he retired from his professional career in 1999 at age thirty-eight, “The Great One” was considered the greatest hockey player ever. Wayne Gretzky knew from the beginning that hockey was his life’s calling.
Celebrated athletes like Wayne Gretzky understand the connection between purpose and passion. The deeper the conviction about purpose in life, the deeper the passion to excel. But I’m not just talking about athletes. Life is filled with people who are passionately committed to fulfilling what they know is God’s purpose for their life.
The Power of Purpose
Whether in a spiritual or a natural sense (and sometimes they go together), there is great power in knowing one’s purpose in life. If one knows that his purpose in life is “A,” then “B-Z” will never prove to be a temptation. Focus, and the ability to say “No,” is made easier. There are fewer distractions and an increased sense of esteem and self-knowledge.
The sooner a calling is recognized, the sooner the fruits of that calling can be shared. And nowhere is that more evident than in the kingdom of God, where life and ministry callings come from God Himself. The Bible is filled with examples of God’s call on an individual’s life. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Gideon, Mary the mother of Jesus, the original twelve disciples, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul—the list goes on of those whom God called to do something specific for Him.
The reality is that all Christians are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Every Christian has a divine purpose: “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). We have a purpose as servants of Christ to carry out the instructions He left with His apostles—to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples in all the nations of the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
That purpose alone—called individually by God, to enjoy fellowship with Him, before the foundations of the earth were formed (Ephesians 1:4-6)—should be enough to keep us focused, energized, and prioritized for a lifetime. But there is an even deeper degree of calling and purpose I believe every Christian should seek, find, and fulfill.
Pursuing Your Personal Purpose
When pursuing your personal purpose in life, here are some things to consider:
•Be obedient to the will of God you know today. Every moral and spiritual command in Scripture is the will of God for your life.
•Expect God to guide you into His will. Live, pray, and minister expectantly based on the conviction that He has a calling for your life.
•Identify your spiritual gift(s) from God and seek out ways to minister with your gift(s). Get counsel from others about the effectiveness of your ministry.
•Live actively, not passively. Assume that you are in His will today and that He will guide you and reveal more as you walk with Him.
•Ask! Tell God you want to do what He has created and called you to do. Don’t be guilty of having not because you asked not (James 4:2).
Perfecting Your Personal Purpose
Discovering God’s will is only half the task. The other half is being faithful to what God has called you to do. It is God’s responsibility to show us His will for our life. But it is our responsibility to nurture His calling and perfect it for His glory. I know of no more energizing factor in the Christian life than a personal conviction of knowing and fulfilling God’s call for your life. Pursue His will and perfect it for His glory.
Rejoice always—this is God’s will for each of His children.