The Purpose Driven Life Study Guide

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Have you read The Purpose Driven Life? Have you successfully applied the concepts to your life?

Pastor Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life to help you find your purposes and learn how to fulfill them. We’ve put together several exercises to help you apply the principles in the book. These can be done individually or with a group.

Keep reading for these practical exercises.

The Purpose Driven Life Study Guide

Here you’ll find exercises for each of the five purposes—as well as exercises to introduce and conclude your study.

Introduction: Think About What’s Driving Your Life

If your life feels as if it lacks meaning or direction, it could be that you’re being driven by the wrong motivations.

  1. What are some indicators that tell you that your life isn’t being driven by the right motivators? (For example, “I always feel tense, as if there’s something I should be doing, but I don’t know what it is.”)
  2. What do you think is the main motivator driving your life? (For example, “I think that I’m driven by approval-seeking and pressure to be the best at work—I always feel that I should be doing more somehow, to stand out or get recognition.”)
  3. How do you think living a purpose driven life will help you feel meaning? (For example, “Instead of needing to feel good at everything or please everyone, I can finally focus in one direction—pleasing God and doing what I’m made to do. I’ll stop feeling tense about unimportant things I ‘should’ do.”)

Purpose #1—Worship: Deepen Your Friendship With God

God’s greatest desire is that you become close to him as you would a trusted friend—make sure you’re dedicating time to deepening that relationship.

  1. What is an everyday event that you could make into an act of worship by including God? (For example, you might discuss the upcoming day with him over your morning coffee, or unpack your day with him on your drive home after work.)
  2. What is something unpleasant that you can commit to being more honest with God about? (For example, you’re angry that you didn’t get a promotion you wanted, or you feel that your chronic illness is unfair.)
  3. Reflect on the time you dedicate to your friendship with God. What unimportant things have you allowed to get in the way? (For example, you didn’t take any time to talk to him during the week, or you questioned something he called you to do such as forgiving someone’s wrongdoing.)
  4. How can you commit to being a better friend to God in the near future? (For example, you write reminders of his presence on sticky notes and put them in visible places so you remember to include him, or you commit to voicing your displeasure more frequently.)

Purpose #2—Build and Maintain Fellowship

This purpose includes two sets of questions.

Check Your Commitment to Your Church

You build meaningful relationships with the members of your spiritual family when you’re a member of your church, not a spectator.

  1. Would you consider yourself a member or spectator at your church? Explain why. (For example, you consider yourself a spectator because you regularly go to church and attend the after-service coffee hour, but you don’t interact with your church during the week.)
  2. What can you do to become more involved with your church? (For example, you might volunteer to teach Sunday school or serve as an usher during services.)
  3. How can you encourage someone else to become more involved in your church? (For example, you introduce yourself to newcomers and make a point to invite them to events.)

Reflect on the Experiences of Your Fellowship

When your fellowship is genuine, you’ll receive the four vital experiences of mutuality, authenticity, sympathy, and forgiveness.

  1. Describe your experience with mutuality in your fellowship. (For example, your group came together to help another member when they were ill. Months later, she made sure your physical needs were covered in the aftermath of a family death.)
  2. Describe an experience of authenticity in your fellowship. (For example, you discussed a temptation you struggle with and felt safe doing so. Your group responded by exposing their own struggles.)
  3. Describe an experience of sympathy in your fellowship. (For example, a member expressed that she was having some trouble in her marriage. Instead of ignoring the issue or saying, “It’s probably not so bad,” your group offered support and validated her feelings.)
  4. Describe an experience of forgiveness in your fellowship. (For example, you accidentally spread information that was shared with the group in confidence. Your group member forgives you and doesn’t bring your mistake up the next time you share sensitive information.)

Purpose #3—Spiritual Maturity: Recognize the Holy Spirit’s Power in Your Life

The Holy Spirit’s power doesn’t come to you in grand moments—it appears in small moments where you choose the right thing to do.

  1. Describe a situation in which you felt weak or afraid, and doing the right thing felt impossible. (For example, you struggle with a gambling addiction. When you got your last paycheck, the temptation to spend it on the slots made you feel powerless.)
  2. What was the “right thing” that you chose to do? (For example, you chose to take your paycheck right to the bank and deposit it in your savings, so you couldn’t touch it.)
  3. How did you feel the Holy Spirit’s power supporting you after you made this choice? (For example, once you made the decision to deposit the check you felt excited and sure of yourself—you went straight to the bank with no hesitation.)
  4. How do you think this situation developed your Christlike character? (For example, you were tempted to act selfishly and without self-control, but by resisting the temptation you made the choice to act as Jesus would.)

Purpose #4—Your Ministry: Think About Your SHAPE

The best ministry uses your abilities and spiritual gifts in a way that aligns with your heart and personality and is supported by your experiences.

  1. List your abilities and gifts, remembering that no ability is insignificant. (For example, you might be good at cooking, public speaking, letter-writing, and sewing.)
  2. Think about your heart—what activities make you feel fulfilled, or make you completely lose track of time? (For example, any day that you spend on yard work feels like a “good day,” or you lose track of time when you’re trying new baking techniques.)
  3. Describe your personality, within the context of work you might do for and with others. (For example, you might describe yourself as someone who’s extroverted and doesn’t like structure, but likes working as part of a team.)
  4. What unique experiences do you think have taught you valuable lessons to teach others? (For example, you had a very good boss who taught you how to effectively manage teams, or you had a painful experience that prepared you to help others dealing with grief.)

Purpose #5—Your Mission: Rethink Your Excuses

God wants you to spread the word of his glory as far as you can. Today, this is more possible than ever—as long as you have your mental barriers out of the way.

  1. What is your excuse for not completing your mission of representing Christianity around the world? (For example, you might think you’re too old or are afraid of leaving the country alone.)
  2. What solutions can you think of to overcome this barrier? (For example, you can look for mission trips for older adults, or find a friend from your church to join a trip with you.)
  3. What issues or events are getting in the way of completing your mission because you’re attributing too much importance to them? (For example, you want to spend your spring break relaxing on a beach instead of on a mission trip, or you don’t want to take a week off work in case you miss something important.)

Conclusion: Reflect on Your Purpose Statement

Create a written purpose statement that you can easily refer to when you feel that your purposes aren’t at the center of your life.

  1. What are your indicators that God isn’t at the center of your life? (For example, you notice that you start to feel anxious about what other people think about you, or feel inexplicably restless.)
  2. How can you maintain harmony and unity within your spiritual family? (For example, you commit to facing conflict rather than turning away and trying to learn about people who irritate you.)
  3. What character qualities do you want to develop during your life? (For example, your patience, self-control, and humility.)
  4. How do you plan to use your SHAPE to serve others? (For example, your love of cooking and working with others led you to find working in your church’s soup kitchen as your ministry.)
  5. What are the most important lessons God has given you to share with others in your mission? (For example, you spent much of your adult life as an unbeliever. As a result, you can clearly articulate how life before finding God differs from life after finding God.)
  6. Write down the short, memorable slogan that will help you keep your purposes in mind. It should touch all five purposes—worship, unselfish fellowship, spiritual maturity, ministry, and mission. (For example, “My purpose in this life is to thank God and talk to him as much as I can, bring my most authentic and loving self to my church, always choose to do what Jesus would do, serve others in a way that feels right to me, and share what I know about God with everyone.”)
The Purpose Driven Life Study Guide

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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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