It All Starts with GodFor everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, . . . everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.Colossians 1:16 (Msg)Unless you assume a God, the question of lifeâs purpose is meaningless.Bertrand Russell, atheistItâs not about you.The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. Itâs far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. Thatâs because we typically begin at the wrong starting pointâourselves. We ask self-centered questions like What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future? But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our lifeâs purpose. The Bible says, âIt is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyoneâs life is in his power.â Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you wonât discover your lifeâs meaning by looking within yourself. Youâve probably tried that already. You didnât create yourself, so there is no way you can tell yourself what you were created for! If I handed you an invention you had never seen before, you wouldnât know its purpose, and the invention itself wouldnât be able to tell you either. Only the creator or the ownerâs manual could reveal its purpose. I once got lost in the mountains. When I stopped to ask for directions to the campsite, I was told, âYou canât get there from here. You must start from the other side of the mountain!â In the same way, you cannot arrive at your lifeâs purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for Godâand until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.Many people try to use God for their own self-actualization, but that is a reversal of nature and is doomed to failure. You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not your using him for your own purpose. The Bible says, âObsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.â I have read many books that suggest ways to discover the purpose of my life. All of them could be classified as âself-helpâ books because they approach the subject from a self-centered viewpoint. Self-help books, even Christian ones, usually offer the same predictable steps to finding your lifeâs purpose: Consider your dreams. Clarify your values. Set some goals. Figure out what you are good at. Aim high. Go for it! Be disciplined. Believe you can achieve your goals. Involve others. Never give up.Of course, these recommendations often lead to great success. You can usually succeed in reaching a goal if you put your mind to it. But being successful and fulfilling your lifeâs purpose are not at all the same issue! You could reach all your personal goals, becoming a raving success by the worldâs standard, and still miss the purposes for which God created you. You need more than self-help advice. The Bible says, âSelf-help is no help at all. Selfsacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.â This is not a self-help book. It is not about finding the right career, achieving your dreams, or planning your life. It is not about how to cram more activities into an overloaded schedule. Actually, it will teach you how to do less in lifeâby focusing on what matters most. It is about becoming what God created you to be. How, then, do you discover the purpose you were created for? You have only two options. Your first option is speculation. This is what most people choose. They conjecture, they guess, they theorize. When people say, âIâve always thought life is . . . ,â they mean, âThis is the best guess I can come up with.âFor thousands of years, brilliant philosophers have discussed and speculated about the meaning of life. Philosophy is an important subject and has its uses, but when it comes to determining the purpose of life, even the wisest philosophers are just guessing. Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University, once wrote to 250 of the best-known philosophers, scientists, writers, and intellectuals in the world, asking them, âWhat is the meaning of life?â He then published their responses in a book. Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were clueless. In fact, a number of famous intellectuals asked Professor Moorhead to write back and tell them if he discovered the purpose of life!Fortunately, there is an alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life. Itâs revelation. We can turn to what God has revealed about life in his Word. The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it. The same is true for discovering your lifeâs purpose: Ask God.God has not left us in the dark to wonder and guess. He has clearly revealed his five purposes for our lives through the Bible. It is our Ownerâs Manual, explaining why we are alive, how life works, what to avoid, and what to expect in the future. It explains what no self-help or philosophy book could know. The Bible says, âGodâs wisdom . . . goes deep into the interior of his purposes. . . . Itâs not the latest message, but more like the oldestâwhat God determined as the way to bring out his best in us.â
Excerpted from The Purpose Driven Life - For Commuters: What on Earth Am I Here For?
by Rick Warren
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