These are some serious questions, and I believe they are worth asking and answering. Depending on your worldview, you may have very different opinions than mine. That's OK, as long as you don't turn off your brain and rely on stereotypes.
According to my worldview, there is a Creator. Just as a carpenter builds a chair, the created thing is given purpose by the will of the author.
In short: You matter.
No one in all of history will have your exact genetic, social, emotional, spiritual, or mental signatures. You are completely unique, and, as a created being, you have a completely unique purpose.
Do you know what your purpose is? Do you know how to find out?
I often find myself having conversations about living life on purpose. The more I think about it, the more I believe it's a pretty good approximation of my personal brand (if I have such a thing). I'm all about living life on purpose and being stoked every single day. The idea of being "stoked" isn't just a play on my last name. It's well known to surfers and others who live life with passion and exitement.
I like the urban dictionary's definition best:
"stoked" - adjective - to be "stoked" is to be completely and intensely enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited about something.I want people to be stoked on life. The only way I've found for life to make sense is when I'm living it according to the unique design created for me. I've blogged about purpose and significance before, but I want to give some back story to why I believe these things.
I grew up in a Christian home with very loving parents. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but towards the end of high school I started tinkering with computers and building web pages. In college, I majored in computer science and was a pole vaulter on the track team.
I had so many injuries, it was ridiculous. I sprained an ankle I had previously broken, tore an ab muscle, and eventually broke a small bone in my back. After eight weeks in a space-age back brace that healed line-backers with ease, I was still hurting.
What happened next was, I believe, one of the most important moments in my life. I actually asked God, "If I'm not here to have a pole vaulting career, why am I here?" I only had one semester left, and I felt very clearly the answer was to start a Bible study.
I said OK.
Every college senior is asked, "What are you going to do when you graduate?" at least 3 times a day. My answer was always the same, "Move back to California, start my own company, and make a lot of money."
And then I read this verse in James 4:13-17:
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.Again I asked, "OK, you're the Author... what do YOU want me to do?" I was presented with an opportunity to raise support and go into full-time ministry. I remember what can only be described as a conversation with God that went something like this:
Papa: Sure, you can go start your own company but eventually I'll ask you for it. You'll have to sell it all and go into ministry. Or, you can go into ministry now (when you have nothing to lose) and later in life you can start your company.
Me (thinking ministry always involves poverty): Huh. Well, it sure is simpler to give up what you don't even have then to give away everything once you get it. Easy decision.I said OK.
From there I worked in ministry for 6 years, then for a "for profit" ministry for almost another 4. Slowly, almost without realizing it, "my company" started to take shape as a friend and I began to build FoxyCart on the side.
As I write this, I'm enjoying 10 weeks in Costa Rica (the photo above was last night's sunset view) with my family, running a business remotely, and enjoying every minute of it. What I thought would be decades later was less than 10 years. I haven't made a ton of money yet, but I believe that will come also as I'm prepared to steward it.
God knew the desires of my heart because He designed them. What has become my favorite life verse explains this well:
Trust in the Lord and do good;Want to know how to find your purpose? I believe it's hidden in this verse. Ask yourself:
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
- Do you really trust the Lord?
- Are you "doing good" with your life, putting others' needs before your own?
- What was the last thing you knew you were supposed to do? Are you still doing it? Are you cultivating faithfulness by sticking it out until it's done? (Remember the verse above in James: knowing the right thing to do and not doing it is sin.)
- Have you learned the secret of delighting in God and loving His plan for your life above your own (see Isaiah 55:8-9)?
- Are you able to receive blessing when it comes?
- Have you fully committed your ways to God? That means He's completely in the driver's seat, calling the shots, making the decisions.
- Really though... Do you trust God?
Are you willing to say "OK" when He shows you the next step to take?
Isaiah showed us exactly what this heart looks like in chapter 6, verse 8:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"Here am I. Send me!
I'm often amazed and heartbroken when I hear people say things like, "Yeah, I know God wants me to do [insert something here], but I'm really not willing to give up [insert something here] yet." They are like the pot telling the potter he doesn't know what he's building. They're like a chair, shaking their head at the carpenter. When we do this, we're essentially telling the Creator of the entire universe who knows the number of hairs on our heads that we have a better plan.
I have a very blessed life. If you know me, you know this to be true. I don't say that to boast in my own success, but I am willing to put it on display and say, "Look! God is good, and His plans for you are awesome!" My life isn't blessed because of the outward things you see. It's blessed because of the relationship I have with the one who created me.
The Author, through relationship, communicates to me my purpose.
Live your life on purpose because it's the only way worth living. You are unique, and no one else can do it for you.
If you'd like to talk about this more but don't feel comfortable leaving a public comment, please email me at luke.stokes at gmail.