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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ward

How to Discover Your Life's Purpose

Updated: 5 days ago

woman at crossroads hands on hips
“I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalms‬ ‭57:2‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Do you understand your purpose in life? Does it align with your dreams and plans for your future? Better yet, does it align with God’s purpose and plan for your life? We often hear conversations in social media and around the dinner table that go something like this.

“I just feel like I have some greater purpose in life than what I’m doing. I wish I knew what my purpose is.” Or...

“I took this amazing class on personal development. It helped me realize that my purpose in life is to be happy and make others happy too.”

There are various ways people find their purpose in life. Most find fulfilment of their life’s purpose through their careers, raising a family, philanthropy, ministry, or social or political causes. Some chase their purpose for years and still never seem to figure it out.

Let’s face it, discovering your purpose and living in it can be difficult, even confusing. There are some important factors to consider when it comes to discovering and living out our purpose in life.

What’s the Difference Between Dreams and Purpose?

First. Our purpose is often misunderstood.

When trying to figure out our reason for being here, we can confuse our purpose with our dreams. Dreams can be realistic or unrealistic. Dreams can be possible, but they can also be impossible to achieve.

As a child I dreamed of being an ice skater. Not just any ice skater. No, I wanted to be a gold medalist. With two left feet and no rhythm, as well as a fear of heights manifested in a fear of jumping, I was pretty much grounded. That dream was unrealistic.

But some dreams are more than possible. For the at-risk kid growing up in the foster system who dreams of going to college and becoming an engineer, his dream is very possible. With hard work and study, this goal is absolutely achievable.

“A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 CSB
walking on street with arrows
When trying to figure out our reason for being here, we can confuse our purpose with our dreams.” ~Dawn Ward

Second. Our purpose doesn’t make or break our happiness.

Our purpose may mean leaving some of our personal dreams unfulfilled. As a matter of fact, fulfilling our purpose does not guarantee our happiness, but it will guarantee our fulfillment.

If you dreamed about growing up to be a gold medalist in figure skating, but instead became a stay-at-home mom of three rambunctious boys, it is possible you feel you missed out on your dreams. Or, if you are highly successful in your career, but struggle with infertility, your dream to be a mom may be robbing you of any real happiness.

Fulfilling our dreams does not guarantee we will be happy even if we achieve them. True fulfillment comes by living a life of purpose as defined by God, not by the world and its definition of success.

“You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” Psalms 16:11 CSB

Finally. Our purpose is defined by God’s plans for us rather than by our personal dreams.

Our dreams for the future are very myopic. We see what’s going on right before our eyes, and this limited perspective has a strong influence on how big or small our vision is. We dream within those limitations.

Back to the ice skating dream. When I was young, I was influenced by what I saw on television or in magazines. The activities my friends were involved in had a big effect on what I wanted to do and dreamed about becoming. I had no idea what was possible for my future or what I could become because I was limited by my inexperience and short-sightedness. Here’s the good news. God is not short-sighted. He does not dream impossible dreams for his children. He had plans for us from before we were born. He has a vision and purpose for our lives that is not limited by our inexperience, lack of talent, or unbelief.

“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭CSB‬‬

We may have ever-evolving dreams for our lives, but our purpose remains the same. We are to love God and glorify him in everything we do. We are called to share his love with others and spread the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world. (See Matthew 6:33, Matthew 28:19, John 13:34)

What To Do About Your Broken Dreams

Maybe you are crushed under the weight of broken dreams. The plans you had for your life lay like shattered glass at your feet. Perhaps, your heart is broken for someone you love as you helplessly sit by and watch their dreams, and yours for them, fall apart. It’s especially painful to see our loved ones make choices that alter the trajectory of their lives, setting them on a course that takes them farther from, rather than closer to, fulfilling their dreams.

For our children, spouses, or family members whose addictions or self-destructive behaviors have destroyed their dreams and convinced them they have no purpose, there is hope. Nothing they have done will alter God’s purpose for their lives. In other words, none of this caught God by surprise. Like Joseph in the pit and Daniel in the lion’s den, what the enemy meant for evil, God used for his purpose and for his glory. (See Genesis 50:20) He can do the same for your struggling loved ones. In his grace and mercy, he will provide them with fresh opportunities to begin again.

“Hey!” You might be asking, “What about free will?” You’re right. We always have the choice to be obedient to God or to disobey him. But, our disobedience does not change God’s mind about us. He loves us, and his plans for us are for our good. Now, choosing to obey him is a whole other story. Like my mom used to say, “You can do this this easy way or the hard way, but you’re doing this either way!”

"For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the thing of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5 CSB

For those of you whose health has waned and believe your best days are behind you, God is not limited by your physical limitations. If you are devastated by a broken marriage, job loss, or an unexpected family crisis, God’s plans for you remain steadfast, unchanging. As a believer, who loves God and seeks to do his will, realize this; he is not holding out on you or passing over you. You didn’t miss out on living your purpose. Even if things are not going as you planned, never forget that God has a master plan, and you are part of it.

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CSB‬‬

How to Live In Your Purpose The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to fulfill our purpose with our own strength. The Lord empowers us to do his will. He simply needs an obedient vessel to accomplish his will in us and through us. Pray for wisdom, step out in faith, and the Lord will take it from there.

Moving forward, as you consider your purpose, remember to adjust your focus from your personal dreams to God’s vision and plans for your life. Ask Him to reveal his will to you. You may only see one step ahead, but God sees the whole picture. You can trust that as you seek Him, His purpose for you will be revealed.

“For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭CSB‬‬

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Lord of All.

We praise you. We thank you that your ways are not our ways. We praise you that you know what’s best for us. You have established your purpose in us. We ask you to show us areas of our lives where our dreams have become self-centered. May we be people of your vision and people of purpose. We praise you for your hand on our lives. In Jesus name.


Beautiful Blessings, Dawn

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