With the increasing awareness on the need for purposeful living, many are beginning to consider it as something truly worth pursuing. Though this seems to be a positive trend, yet probably due to lack of deep understanding of the concept and conceptualization of purpose, there is an obvious abuse of the phenomenon in many quarters as anybody can just come up with a wave of idea on anything and call the same his/her life purpose. This article seeks to address this issue and also outline some of the key things to look out for in order to test for a genuine, God-given purpose.
1. A genuine purpose find its source in God
Anytime God wants to reveal his purpose to any man, it either comes through a written or spoken prophecy, an instruction, a divine visitation or an encounter. It takes more than thinking to discover purpose; it takes more than just coming up with an idea. It can only come as a result of deep spiritual intercourse with God through the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter whether it is about being a master craftsman like Bezalel (Ex31:1–5) or an itinerant preacher like Paul (Act 26:16-18), it must all come from God.
2. A genuine purpose is affirmed and confirmed
You can’t just respond to a single impulse and say you’ve found purpose; it might just have been a brain wave. Most times God loves to affirm and confirm his word again several times before it can sink deep into us. God used David, Isaiah, Micah and other prophets to talk about the mission of Jesus Christ on earth. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous three times (Joshua 1:6-9). Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times (John 21:15-17) and God told Peter to kill and eat three times (Act 10: 9-16).
3. A genuine purpose have connections with God’s global plan
God could not have made you and isolate you out of his plan for humanity. Your assignment on earth is actually meant to contribute to the fulfillment of his global agenda. That is why your assignment is not primarily about your comfort or personal success but about the success of God’s global plan. So you may need to ask yourself, where is the place of my perceived purpose in God’s global plan? If there is no genuine relevance with God’s plan, it might as well not been from God.
4. A genuine purpose reveals your true potential and passion
Perhaps this is what many folks seem to embrace most about purpose, because of the idea of expression of one true self. It is an absolute truth that you’ve been wired by God for your specific assignment. Your assignment must be able to draw on the gifts, talents and abilities God deposited in you and also stir your passion. If you’re not obsessed and passionate about your perceived purpose then probably you’ve picked on something else.
5. A genuine purpose would withstand and overcome adversities
One of the surest ways to test for a genuine purpose is its frequency of exposure to adversities and its ability to withstand and overcome them. Every God given purpose must face serious challenges, because it must primarily be against the ways of doing things in the world. Certainly, it’s easier to go in the direction of the wind than to go against it.
6. A genuine purpose must frequently take you to God’s presence
Jesus Christ said, “Without me, you can do nothing”. Because your purpose has its source from God, the pursuit of its fulfillment must also be in God. You will need the help that only God can provide along the way. You’ll need his assurance and the presence of his Holy Spirit as you go. If your perceived purpose is not driving you continually to God’s presence, it’s either you’ve taken something else for purpose or you’re not passionate about fulfilling it.
7. The pursuit of a genuine purpose will give you a deep sense of joy, fruitfulness and fulfillment
You should be enthusiastic about your purpose. Your joy, fruitfulness and fulfillment in life are attached to your purpose. Joy and happiness is not the same thing; one is deep and long lasting, while the other is shallow and temporal. You’ll surely bear fruits if you pursue your purpose faithfully. Barrenness is either a sign of laboring on another man’s land or not giving your purpose what it requires to succeed. Fulfillment is a deep witness and internal satisfaction that you’re doing what you’re meant to do.
8. A genuine purpose is not pursued because of monetary gain
If money is your secret motivation for pursuing your perceived purpose then you can be sure it’s not from God. While God has provision for your welfare and desires to give you reward for your labour, money and fame should not primarily be your source of motivation. This is one of the acid tests of purpose. You must be able to carry out your assignment with the same passion whether or not money is attached.
9. A genuine purpose is unique and non-competitive
Competition is not part of God’s plan for mankind. Everyman is expected to grow to the fullness of his potentials. God has made us as unique beings with unique abilities and his purpose for us is to express those abilities to the maximum. When this is done, there would be no need for competition. The sky is enough for birds to fly without colliding with each other. If you find yourself striving with other people in unnecessary competition, you’re probably not on the road to your destiny.
10. A genuine purpose reveals your “zone of God’s anointing”
In his book Experiencing Leadershift, Don Cousins describe your zone of God’s anointing as the area of your life where you feel God at work most. Those moments you feel like ‘I am made for this!’ You usually sense a supernatural enablement whenever you do that particular thing. In the assignment, Mike Murdock also pointed out that God will anoint you for a particular assignment he chooses to accomplish through you. Whenever you do something and notice an extraordinary display of wisdom and ability or someone else notices it in you, it is a pointer that you’ve found your purpose.
In conclusion, Robert A. Schuller said “the challenge to find and fulfill your calling in life is perhaps the most important task you will face.” This is going to be a lifelong search because life is a journey and not a destination, and the path of your individual uniqueness will continue to unfold as long as you live. It is the desire of God to show you the way. In fact, he promised to “guide you along the best pathway of life” (Psalm 32:8). Jesus also said, ‘’fear not little flocks for it is the desire of your father to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Your Kingdom is your territory, your land of dominion and your land of destiny!
* Temitope Akinola is a Graduating Engineer who has a passion that transcends engineering; he is a public speaker and writer. He believes God has wired every individual with specific potentials and for a specific purpose on earth. He writes and speaks to raise people’s consciousness on these salient realities. He is at the moment rounding up his undergraduate studies at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and also a freelance writer on the oDesk platform. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org