I heard a speaker at church shock the congregation with this statement: “God has not given you a purpose in life!” You could hear a pin drop as we waited for the next line, and he repeated it for emphasis. “You do not have a God-given life purpose!” As he continued his comments about how attempts to discover our own life purpose is an unbiblical concept, I found myself profoundly in disagreement with his statements.
But then he made his point: God has a purpose. You have an assignment!
My mind immediately opened up to what he was really saying. There can be a big difference between God’s mission and my own. In our culture of individualism, many people live according to their own design. But the pursuit of MY life’s mission, MY purpose, MY dreams, may have nothing to do with God’s actual purpose on this earth or His assignment for my life. God’s purpose is bigger and better than my own. His perspective far exceeds my limited and narrow viewpoint. We deceive ourselves if we believe that we are in control of our own lives. Yet, how we strive for that control! As Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in man’s heart, but God’s purpose prevails.” If I choose to design my own life-purpose, I may actually miss out on a greater blessing and opportunity to fulfill God’s assignment for my life.
A practical example of this is seen in the life of David. The Apostle Paul referred to this in Acts 13:36 by saying, “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” David recognized that he had a God-given assignment, which he fulfilled in his various roles as a shepherd, servant, musician, warrior, military leader, politician and King. Every assignment he was given fulfilled God’s higher purpose for the nation of Israel and the world. David fulfilled God’s purpose, rather than his own. And when his assignment was over, he died.
Another promise is Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (emphasis mine) To be “called according to his purpose” does not mean that we lack direction or clarity, fail to make plans or pursue meaningful goals. It does mean that as we pray “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done” we do it from a posture of willingness on our part for our lives and plans to be shaped according to God’s purpose, rather than our own.
It’s way too easy for me to become the owner of my life purpose, and thus feel as if I have to find it, fulfill it and succeed. But this can lead to the bondage of ownership over a mission of my own making, a mission that God never intended for me to have or worry about. The alternative is to become a steward of my God-given assignment, and learn how to steward that assignment well.
That’s why I now agree: God has a purpose, I have an assignment. There is freedom in knowing what that assignment is and acting on it as a steward.