The 6 Reasons to Embrace God’s Purpose for Your Life

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is God’s purpose for your life? Why should you embrace it?

Understanding and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life is central to your existence. The Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren shares six reasons why you should embrace God’s purpose.

Read on to learn why you should accept God’s purpose for your life.

Embracing God’s Purpose for Your Life

In this first week of your journey, we’ll explore six reasons that explain why you should accept and live for God’s purpose for your life:

  1. It’s not about you. 
  2. You’re here for a reason. 
  3. Being driven by purpose creates peace. 
  4. There is a life beyond this. 
  5. Life is a test and a responsibility. 
  6. Everything is by and for God. 

Revisit these reasons for a regular reminder of the larger meaning of your life, what’s to be gained by serving God, and bolster your dedication to your purposes. 

Reason #1: It’s Not About You

The Bible reveals that your life’s meaning isn’t actually about you. Everything in your life comes back to God—your origins, your significance, your identity, and your purpose. Your life isn’t about fulfilling your purposes. It’s about fulfilling God’s. 

As God’s Word, this is an eternal truth. This is what your life should be built on, not speculation about what you or others think the truth might be.

  • For example, many people (and self-help books) make the mistake of thinking that “success” is the true meaning of life, but being successful and fulfilling your purpose aren’t the same thing. By following an assumed truth rather than eternal truths, you may be missing out on the greater purpose of your time on earth. 

You won’t find your identity and meaning by guessing at the truth. It’s only by following God and accepting God’s purpose for your life that you’ll find your life’s true meaning. 

Reason #2: You’re Here for a Reason 

You didn’t randomly come into existence—God imagined and created you long before you were born. There’s a reason behind every single aspect of you and your life, such as:

  • Your race, physical features, talents, and personality
  • Where you were born and where you’ve lived
  • When you were born, and when you’ll die
  • The role of your parents in your life, and the quality of their parenting

Give Thanks by Accepting God’s Purpose for Your Life

Your existence is an extraordinary gift. As the essence of love and a part of the Trinity’s perfect companionship, God doesn’t necessarily need company. He created you purely out of a desire to express his love. And he didn’t stop there—God loves us and values us above all other creations. To show this, he created a perfect home for us.

  • Biologists and scientists have repeatedly discovered ways that earth is suited exactly to human needs. Some scientists claim that the only explanation for this is that the cosmos was specifically designed to support human life. 

It’s impossible not to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the work and love that God’s put into your life. You’ll never be able to repay him for what he’s done for you, but you can express your gratitude by putting God and his purposes at the center of your life.  

Reason #3: Being Driven by Purpose Creates Peace

Everyone has different motivations driving their lives—these motivations can be external factors like problems or pressure, emotional factors like anxiety or fear, or moral factors like values and beliefs. When you’re driven by the wrong motivators, you can’t experience peace in your life. Unfortunately, many people are driven by five common “wrong” motivators: 

  1. Guilt: When you’re motivated by guilt, you’re controlled by your past and often sabotage your success without realizing it. Your life centers on running away from feelings of shame or regret. 
  2. Resentment: When you’re motivated by resentment, you hold onto wrongdoings and let them continue to hurt you, instead of forgiving and letting go. This will cause you to either withdraw and internalize anger, or lash out and spread anger—both actions that damage your relationships. 
  3. Fear: When you’re motivated by fear—which can come from anxiety, trauma, perfectionism, controlling parents, and so on—you spend your life sticking to the status quo and avoiding any possibility of failure. This holds you back significantly because it’s in trying new things or failing that you experience growth and overcome your fears. 
  4. Materialism: When you’re motivated by materialism, you put wealth and material possessions at the center of your life, often with the belief that they’ll make you happier, more important, and more secure. However, wealth won’t make you feel happier or more important—only a solid, positive perception of your self-worth can do that. Furthermore, wealth is never secure. For any number of reasons, you can easily lose all of your wealth instantly.
  5. The need for approval: When you’re motivated by a need for approval, you worry what others might think about you and your choices, and you believe that doing what others want will prevent criticism and judgment. In this way, you let others—such as friends, your parents, or your spouse—direct your life.

Reason #4: There Is Life Beyond This

Earth isn’t your forever home—you’re just a tourist passing through. However, many Christians seem to believe that their true homes and their true lives are here on earth. It’s crucial that you remember that the true “you” is in eternity, where you originated and where you’ll one day return. There’s no exact report of what’s waiting for you in eternity or what it will look like—it’s far beyond what the human imagination can understand. However, you can turn to the Bible to learn about the splendors of God’s kingdom and how you might expect to be rewarded for your faithfulness:

  • You’ll see your lost loved ones again. 
  • You’ll be free of any pain or suffering you might have experienced on earth. 
  • You’ll be given work that you truly enjoy performing for eternity.

Why It’s Important to Think More About Death

Many people fear death or think of it as something strange or unjust. You may think this is because of a desire for immortality—a desire for your life on earth to last forever. It’s actually because God designed us to have an eternal afterlife. This inherent knowledge of eternal living gives us a feeling that death is somehow “unfair” or “unnatural.”

But, knowledge of eternal living should mean that death isn’t too frightening or morbid to think about. In fact, you should be thinking about death and eternity more—it can significantly reduce the stress in your life. 

How Thoughts of Eternity Reduce Stress

Purpose-driven living erases the frightening aspect of death—fulfilling God’s purpose for your life ensures that you’ll receive the promise of eternal life. You have nothing to worry about or feel uncertain about because you already know what’s next.  

Getting comfortable with the thought of eternity and frequently reflecting on it touches every aspect of your life in a positive way.

  • It reveals how unimportant small, everyday issues really are. You can move on from them quickly and focus on more eternal goals and issues. 
  • Thinking about what does and doesn’t matter in eternity helps you determine how to react to different challenges and situations. 
  • You realize that harm or suffering that may happen, though it may be scary or painful, is only temporary. 
  • You spend your money and your time in more fulfilling, prudent ways instead of wasting it on temporary or sinful pleasures. 
  • You prioritize what’s truly valuable—you realize that wealth and accomplishments can’t be taken with you into eternity, so you focus on your character and your relationships. 

Reason #5: Life Is a Test and a Responsibility

Ask yourself, “How do I picture my life?” Your response, the life metaphor that comes to mind, reveals everything about you—what’s important to you, what you expect from your life, your attitude toward your circumstances, your motivations, and so on. 

  • For example, if you say, “My life is a whirlwind,” you probably view life as fast and confusing, and feel that you’re not fully enjoying moments as they pass you by. If you say, “Life is a battle,” you may think life is difficult and full of struggle, and that there’s a way to “win” or “lose” at life. 

The way you view your life affects everything in it: your relationships, the way you spend time or money, your values, your goals, and so on. Accepting God’s purpose for your life allows you to reframe the way you see your life: The Bible tells us that life is a test and life is a responsibility.

Life Is a Test

God will test you throughout your life by putting conflicts, problems, changes, and success in your way. These situations are meant to challenge your faith, character, love, loyalty, and so on.

You can’t know everything that God will test you with, but if you look to the Bible you’ll see that tragedies, unanswered prayers, undeserved hurt, and significant changes are all ways that God has tested believers. God gives you these tests because your response to them will both develop you and reveal you. 

  • For example, you might respond to a challenging diagnosis by praying for guidance and reading Scripture—developing your faith—while refusing to blame or be angry at God—revealing your loyalty. 
You’re Being Tested Even When You Can’t Feel God  

God is especially paying attention to how you respond to tests when you can’t feel his presence. God often feels absent in two instances:

  1. Difficult circumstances: It’s easy to feel God’s presence when things are going well for you. It’s much harder to feel him when things get hard—it feels as if he may have forgotten you or abandoned you. The truest test of faith is continuing to feel God and trust him even when you encounter immense challenges.
  2. Small, insignificant moments: It’s easy to feel God in large, important events and situations. It’s much harder to realize that he’s in everything, no matter how small or unimportant. Knowing that everything in your life has been put there as a test reveals that every moment of your life is significant and contributes to the development of your character.  

Life Is a Responsibility

As the creator, God is the true owner of everything on earth but as an expression of his love, he entrusted all his gifts to you during your time on earth. 

  • These gifts come in all forms: your particular talents, the natural world, your relationships, the events you experience, and so on.

You’re expected to take care of everything God’s given you, to the best of your ability. This is called stewardship, and it’s some of your life’s most important work because it reveals how responsible you are. At the end of your life, God will examine each of the gifts he gave you and determine how well you took care of or used it. If he finds you to be a responsible steward of his gifts, you’ll receive three eternal rewards: God’s affirmation, important and interesting eternal responsibilities, and celebration. 

Reason #6: Everything Is by and for God

Everything in the universe was made by God to demonstrate his essence, his presence, his power, and his love. Each thing in the world around you reflects his glory. 

  • For example, think about the amazing and flawless design of the human body, microscopic forms of life, and seasons, just to name a few.

Besides the gifts he’s given us, God has expressed his glory in many amazing ways over the years—such as creating Jesus and allowing him to die for our sins, and appearing as a burning bush to Moses and giving him the Ten Commandments. There’s no possible way for us to enhance God’s glory—it’s the most powerful, brilliant, complete thing in the universe. 

Instead, we express our gratitude for all that God has given us by showing his glory. God’s glory is seen every time one of his creations fulfills the purpose he gave it. He assigned humans five purposes:

  1. Worship 
  2. Unselfish fellowship
  3. Spiritual maturity 
  4. Your ministry
  5. Your mission 

It’s in fulfilling God’s purpose for your life that you express your gratitude to God and succeed in showing his glory. Through this summary, we’ll explore each of these purposes—looking at how they show up in your life, how you can dedicate yourself to them, and how you can succeed in fulfilling your purpose-driven life.

The 6 Reasons to Embrace God’s Purpose for Your Life

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  • The meaning of life from a Christian perspective
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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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