Identifying the Purpose of Life

Here are some notes I jotted down when I was working on the chapter in my book on mission statements. They are brief and scattered, but here they are in the event that they are helpful to you.

In my chapter, I go against a major problem in most books on productivity. Most of them talk about having a “mission” or “purpose” to your life, but they say “that’s a very personal thing, something for you to decide for yourself.”

I think that’s wrong. Pretty bad, in fact. The reason is that since we didn’t create ourselves, we cannot define our own purpose. God himself defined the purpose of life. What we need to do is identify the purpose he has defined, say it in a way that captures the unique angle on that he has placed in our life, and align ourselves around it. Or, better, align ourselves not first around our “purpose,” but the gospel, with our purpose directing us but the gospel empowering and defining us.

Interestingly, the Bible talks about the purpose of life a lot. You even see mission statements all over the place, especially in Paul.

Here are my brief, rough, notes:

Criteria any Potential Purpose Must Fulfill

Must create happiness. Flourishing. So when the Bible talks of “blessedness,” we are in this domain.

It must create a happiness that is eternal, not fleeting. And happiness that is great, in itself invincible, and that can endure through immense trial and difficulty.

What the Purpose of Life Is

Making God look good. Making “good reports” about him abound. Making joy in him abound.

But not just anything does this. Mercy is at the heart of it. And justice. And, you must really do it for his glory. Micah 6:8; Isaiah 1:18; 58:1-13; Mt 5:16

What This Does

You can fulfill it each day, and yet never fully complete it. There is always more.

It drives your actions, gives purpose, and cannot be exhausted or wear out.

  • Loren Pinilis

    Like you, I’m not really a fan of the way that most people talk about mission statements. They either end up being trite statements or long lists that restate their goals in separate areas. They are way too personal as you stated, and I think often people tend to look at them as static laws that should never change.
    I think the real power of mission statements is to drive not just what we do – but how we do it and WHY we do it.