The 5 Purposes in the Purpose-Driven 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 are the five purposes in The Purpose-Driven Life? How do you keep them all in balance?

The purpose-driven life is what God planned for you. When you live out his five purposes, you experience the abundant life he promised. Once you identify how you can live out each purpose, you must learn how to keep all of them in balance throughout your life.

Keep reading to learn more about The Purpose-Driven Life.

Living the Purpose-Driven Life

Like many people, you might feel that you’re simply existing in life, going through the motions without understanding what it all means. In The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren reveals the meaning of life from a Christian perspective—five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill: worship, unselfish fellowship, spiritual maturity, your ministry, and your mission. 

In living the purpose-driven life, you’ll start to find meaning in every moment of your life. You’ll learn to see the glory of God everywhere, deepen your love for others, find the unique service you were made for, and prepare your character for the promise of eternal life.

The Five Purposes

Your first purpose is worship—bringing pleasure to God. Worship doesn’t happen only when you’re in church. It’s a lifestyle that centers on making God happy

The second purpose of your life is unselfishly loving fellow members of God’s family. God created us to be part of a spiritual family that dedicates itself to loving and honoring him—as a believer, you’re not only his child but a sibling to all other past, present, and future believers. In loving your spiritual family, you’ll learn the essential skill of unselfish loving. Unselfish loving means loving others, even when it’s difficult to do so—such as when they’re being rude, it’s inconvenient for you, or they need too much from you.

The third purpose of your life is to become more like Jesus by taking on his values and character. This spiritually mature character is already in you but hasn’t been shaped yet.

God wants you to serve others—this is called ministry, the fourth purpose for your life. The way God planned for you to serve others is uniquely yours.

The fifth purpose is your mission. Whereas your ministry is how you serve other believers, your mission is your service to unbelievers. God wants you to spread word of his love, his glory, and the promise of eternal life to unbelievers, through your unique mission and a shared mission.

Keep It All in Balance 

There are four ways you can maintain balance among your purposes as you experience the purpose-driven life. 

  • Accountability partners: Engage in regular discussion with others about your purposes. You’ll gain a better understanding of your purposes, get new ideas for fulfilling them, and strengthen your faith. Look around you—a good support system for the purpose-driven life probably already exists in your community. For example, you might ask your fellowship group to act as your accountability partners or meet up monthly with a friend who’s on the same spiritual journey as you. 
  • Spiritual check-ins: Every now and then, check in on your spiritual health and honestly evaluate how you’re doing with the purpose-driven life—looking at 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?” or “Am I being as honest and patient in fellowship as I’d want others to be toward me?”
  • Journaling: Journaling is useful both for tracking your progress and growth and for spotting areas for improvement. Schedule a regular time to write about what you did during the week, including the lessons you learned from your experiences and how your actions helped fulfill your purposes. 
  • Modeling the purpose-driven life: Share what you know about purpose-driven living with others. This isn’t just telling others what to do—be a living demonstration of what it’s all about. When others are looking to you as an example, you’ll naturally be more careful to uphold your work in all your purposes.
The 5 Purposes in the Purpose-Driven Life

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  • 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, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks 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 book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

2 thoughts on “The 5 Purposes in the Purpose-Driven Life

  • January 20, 2023 at 11:55 pm

    This is great so in tresting and inspiring. Straight point teaching with without confusion.
    I wished to suggest that scriptural passages will be good if included.

  • January 9, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    Good summary Elizabeth. I have read the book and was searching for the quick reminder of the 5 purposes.

    But the Purpose Driven Life’s 5th Purpose is being WITNESSING, not Ministry. You list Ministry as purpose #4, which is giving back.


    “Through Christ, God has made peace between us and himself, and He gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with Him . . . So, we have been sent to speak for Christ!” 2 Cor. 5:18,20 (NCV)


    “In our work together with God, we beg those of you who have received God’s grace TO NOT LET IT BE WASTED!” 2 Cor 6:1 (TEV)

    I pray that you have taken time to read the Purpose Driven Life. I appreciate how it has brought me closer to walking with Jesus.


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