Living a Life of Purpose: 4 Ways to Stay on Track

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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Are you living a life of purpose? How can you keep your purpose central to the way you live?

If you’ve done the work to identify God’s purpose for your life, you’ll want to stay the course and continue living a life of purpose every day. Pastor Rick Warren outlines four things you can do to keep your purpose-driven life on track.

Read more to learn how to stay on the path of living a life of purpose.

Living a Life of Purpose From Day to Day

Even those with the best intentions to live a life of purpose may lose sight of the necessity of a balance between their purposes, choosing to focus on those that they’re enthusiastic about and choosing to ignore those that they’re not particularly interested in. 

There are four activities that can help you take regular stock of the balance you’re keeping among your purposes.

Balance Check #1: Accountability Partners 

Reading about your purposes is a great first step, but it’s important to engage in regular conversation and reflection about them with others. Through discussion, you can gain a better understanding of your purposes and get new ideas about how to fulfill them, strengthen your faith, and receive suggestions for improvement.

  • For example, you might share that you’re unsure of how to fit your purposes around your everyday tasks as a mother. Your accountability partner, also a mother, explains the small changes she’s made in her life in order to succeed in both areas. 

As you go about living a life of purpose, being accountable to someone else is especially important when you start backsliding on any of your purposes. First, they’re likely to point out the issue before you even notice it. Second, they’ll act as a source of encouragement, ideas, and suggestions to get you back on track.

Accountability partners don’t just happen. You’ll have to find and approach them yourself. 

  • Ask your fellowship group to act as your accountability partners.
  • Schedule regular meet-ups with your pastor.
  • Find someone who is on the same spiritual journey as you and commit to meeting once a month to check in. 

Balance Check #2: Spiritual Check-Ins

Every now and then, check in on your spiritual health and honestly evaluate how well you’re living a life of purpose—specifically how you’re doing in the areas of worship, fellowship, character growth, ministry, and your mission. 

During this check-in, ask yourself questions such as: 

  • Are there areas of my life where I’m holding back from surrendering to God?
  • Am I being as honest and patient in fellowship as I’d want others to be toward me?
  • Do I look for the lessons in difficult moments, or just think of them as obstacles?
  • How often do I feel upset when others don’t acknowledge the ways I’ve served them?
  • Have I been holding back from making connections with unbelievers?

Balance Check #3: Journaling

As you continue to live a life of purpose, journaling is useful both for tracking your progress and growth and for spotting areas of your life where you’re not picking up lessons or working to fulfill your purposes. 

Schedule a regular time each week to sit down and write about what you did during the week and a) the lessons you learned from your experiences and b) how your actions helped fulfill your purposes. 

  • Of course, you learn from both negative and positive experiences—your journal should include experiences of fear, doubt, and failure alongside experiences of happiness, success, and hope. 

Balance Check #4: Modeling Purpose Driven Living 

Knowing the purpose of your life is a wonderful gift. Share your knowledge with others, so that they can feel the same hope and meaning that you do. This will help keep your purposes in balance, because sharing what you know about purpose-driven living isn’t just telling others what to do—you’re a living demonstration of what living a life of purpose is all about. 

Knowing that others are looking to you as an example naturally forces you to check in with yourself and identify where you may be slacking. For example, while telling others how important it is to spread the news about God to unbelievers, one of them might ask what you do to spread the news. This prompts the realization that you haven’t done any sort of mission work in a few months, and you commit to getting back on track with fully living a life of purpose.

Living a Life of Purpose: 4 Ways to Stay on Track

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Purpose Driven Life summary:

  • The meaning of life from a Christian perspective
  • The five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill
  • How to find the unique service you were made for

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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