A Chicago sewer worker once described his life this way: “I dig the ditch to earn the money to buy the food to get the strength to dig the ditch.” Sadly, that is the meaningless cycle most people experience. But God created us for so much more. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
God wants us to experience an extraordinary life—not just when we get to Heaven but now!
Your General Purpose
Every follower of Christ has a general purpose in life: to bring God glory and to enjoy Him forever. God created you and me to bear His image (Genesis 1:27). This means that we are meant to reflect to the world the enjoyment and satisfaction that comes only from knowing and serving God.
Even though he was an ordinary person, the Old Testament prophet Elijah understood he existed for the extraordinary purpose of knowing God and making Him known. From the moment Elijah showed up on the scene, he said his purpose was to be “zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:10).
Elijah also knew this general purpose from the Scriptures he read. When Elijah threatened the idolatrous King Ahab with no rain in 1 Kings 17:1, he did so based on Deuteronomy 11:16–17: “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit.”
Elijah knew his general purpose in life was to glorify and enjoy God. But to fulfill his general purpose, Elijah had to discover his unique purpose in life. He had to tell the story God had specifically written for him. And the same is true for you and me. All of us are called to point people to God, but the path we follow to do that is unique for each of us.
Your Unique Purpose
Every believer has a unique purpose that answers the question: “Why has God placed me in this world?”
Elijah’s specific calling was to serve God as a prophet to the nation of Israel. He would spend his life confronting the Israelites for forgetting the only true God. Elijah confronted the idolatrous king and queen (1 Kings 17:1) and called the nation to repentance (1 Kings 18:21). Knowing your unique purpose gives you courage and clarity in priorities, uncertainties, and difficulties.
How do you discover your specific purpose—the unique story God wants to tell through you? Use the acrostic S-T-O-R-Y:
Start with Scripture
In 2 Timothy 3:16–17, Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” By saturating your mind with God’s Word, you will become equipped to hear His voice.
Talk to Others
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” Every person is called by God for a unique purpose that begins with an inner voice—the Holy Spirit—and then is confirmed by the godly people He has placed around you.
Obey Your Passions
If money and education were not an issue, and you could do whatever you wanted, what would it be? You might object to this question because of Jeremiah 17:9, which says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”
That statement is true of your heart before you become a Christian. Once you are saved, God transforms you. And the closer you walk with God, the more you want what He wants.
Psalm 37:4–5 says, “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.”
Recognize Your Gifts and Abilities
God has given you not only a desire but also the gifts and the abilities to fulfill that desire (Philippians 2:13). You cannot be whatever you want. But you have the power to be whatever God wants you to be.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to know your giftedness:
What do I enjoy doing?
What things cause people to say, “You were born to do that”?
What seems effortless to me?
What is the common denominator in the three most satisfying activities I have done? (For me, I’d write the word “Communication.”)
Yield to the Leading of the Holy Spirit
At some point, you must say yes to the Lord’s calling. Romans 12:1–2 says, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Tell Your Story of God’s Grace
If you are going to have an extraordinary life—a life of significance—then you must discover your special purpose. Max Lucado has a formula for discovering your purpose: “Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it) every day of your life (where you do it). At the convergence of all three, you’ll find … your sweet spot.”1
Discovering your sweet spot—your unique purpose in life—is key to choosing an extraordinary life.
1 Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 7.