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FIRST-PERSON: Purpose-driven life: What am I here for?

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–The most fundamental question you can ask yourself is: “Why am I here?” God makes everything with a purpose. Every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose, and if you are alive that means that God has a purpose for your life.

The Bible teaches that God had five purposes in making you. These five purposes are explained by Jesus in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. They’re demonstrated by the early church in Acts, chapter 2. They’re explained by Paul in Ephesians, chapter 4, and they’re prayed about by Jesus in John, chapter 17.

Number 1: Planned for God’s Pleasure

The first purpose of your life is this: You were planned for God’s pleasure. I think the two words that best describe the Christian life are “love affair.” God wants you to know him and love him. Everything else is secondary to that. He wants you to know him, and he wants you to love him.

There is a word for expressing love to God: worship. Worship is expressing your love to God. And worship is living a life pleasing to God.

You know there is a big myth today in most of Christianity. Today the word worship in most people’s mind is a synonym for music. We say things like, “Well, I liked the message, but I really liked the worship.” As if the message wasn’t worship.

Worship is more than music. Worship is everything you do that brings pleasure to God. Your whole life is to be a life of worship.

Number 2: Formed for God’s Family

Just as worship brings God pleasure because he wants us to love him, fellowship with other believers brings God pleasure because we’re formed for God’s family.

One of the most misunderstood ideas about the Christian life is that it’s just a matter of believing. But God says, “No, you’re not just ‘believers’; you’re ‘belongers.'” You belong in the family of God.

Did you know that 58 times in the New Testament the word “one another” is used? Love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, greet one another, and on and on and on. God wants you to care for other people. That’s called fellowship. Enjoying God’s family is called fellowship, and that’s the second purpose for your life.

Number 3: Created to be like Christ

You were planned for God’s pleasure, that’s called worship. And you were formed for a family, that’s called fellowship. Here’s the third reason God made you: You were created to be like Christ, and that’s called discipleship. God made you to transform you into a likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ.

God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do. He’s far more interested in your being than in your doing. A lot of people ask, “What is God’s will for my life in my job or my career?” Do you know what — you could probably have two dozen different careers and God would say that’s fine. God is more interested in your character, and I’ll tell you why –you’re not taking your career into eternity, but you are taking your character.

There is no problem you can’t grow from if you’ll learn the right response. You become like Jesus. This is God’s third purpose for your life. Becoming like Christ is called discipleship.

Number 4: Shaped for Service

The fourth purpose God created you for is this: You were shaped for service. God made you to serve him. You’re planned for God’s pleasure, that’s worship. You’re formed for a family, that’s fellowship. You’re created to be like Christ, that’s discipleship. And now you’re shaped for service, and that’s called ministry.

Every Christian is created to serve — called to ministry, created for ministry, saved for ministry, gifted for ministry. The Bible makes it very clear that every Christian is a minister. Not every Christian is a pastor, but every Christian is a minister because to be Christlike is to be a minister. You can’t be like Jesus Christ without serving others.

What is ministry? Ministry is any time you use the abilities God has given you to help someone else in Jesus’ name. The Bible teaches that God uniquely wired you in a certain way for a purpose. God gave you your abilities not for your benefit but to bless other people.

Number 5: Made for a Mission

The fifth reason you were put on this earth is that you were made for a mission.

Paul was extremely passionate about this particular purpose. He says in Acts 20:24, “The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus Christ gave me.” And what is that work? To tell people the good news about God’s grace. Fulfilling my mission in the world — there’s a word for that in the Bible — it’s called “evangelism.” That is the fifth purpose God has for your life.

My dad was a man on a mission. He was a pastor for 50 years, but died a few years ago of cancer. The last week of his life he was delusional, and my wife and I were sitting beside him. He was very frail, and he’d lost all this weight from cancer. One night he became agitated and tried to get out of bed.

Kay said, “Jimmy, you can’t get out of bed, lay back down, you’re very weak. You’re dying.” But he tried to get back out of bed, and my wife said again, “No. Please lay back down in the bed.” She forced him back down in the bed, and she said, “What is it you need?”

He said, “Gotta save one more for Jesus. Gotta save one more for Jesus. Gotta save one more for Jesus.” And he began to say this over and over, and in the next hour, he must have repeated this line, maybe, 100 times. “Gotta save one more for Jesus.”

As I sat there by his bedside, I put my head down — praying — tears were coming down my cheeks. My dad reached up and put his hand on my head — like a blessing — and he said, “Save one more for Jesus. Save one more for Jesus.” I intend for that to be the theme of the rest of my life. And I invite you to make it the theme of your life.

You were made for a mission.

Now, I have shared from God’s Word what it means to live a life of purpose, a purpose-driven life.

What are you going to do about it?

The Bible says, “David served God’s purpose in his own generation.” I can’t think of a better epitaph. That’s what I want for my life — that when I die people will say, “He served God’s purpose in his generation.”

And that’s what I want people to say about you, that you served God’s purpose in your generation.
This article is based upon Rick Warren’s new book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” You can pre-order it at www.pastors.com, or find it at your local Christian bookstore October 1.

    About the Author

  • Rick Warren