Few questions are more important if we want to live with meaning and vitality. Knowing our life's purpose enables us to live for what really matters, to make sure we're not squandering our days.
Often, we express our life's purpose in terms of measurable goals: to have a successful career, to make a certain amount of money, to be married and have a family, to own a home, and so forth. Having measurable goals can help us to know if we're living effectively, if we're achieving our purpose (or purposes).
But, quite often, forces we can't control mess up our best plans. We're laid off during a recession. Or we get cancer. Or people we counted on fail us. Awhile back I met a woman whose home was struck with lightning and burned to the ground. She lost not only her home but also most of her cherished possessions.
Perhaps we should think about our lives less in terms of accomplishment and more in terms of faithfulness. In the parable of Luke 19:11-27, a nobleman entrusts his wealth to his servants before leaving town for his coronation in a distant empire. When he returns, the newly crowned king discovers that one of his servants has multiplied by ten times that which was entrusted to him. In response, the king says, "'Well done! You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward'" (v. 17). Yes, the king is impressed by the return on his investment, and he rewards his servant with great honor and responsibility. But he praises the servant for being faithful, even in small things.
As Christians, one chief purpose of our lives is to be faithful to God. This means we consistently care about God's purposes for his creation. It means we seek to honor God in every thought, every action. Being faithful relieves us of the burden of having to produce certain results for God. We are to do the part God has assigned to us; he is responsible for the results.
No matter where you are, no matter what you're doing with your life, no matter whether you've been entrusted with things big or small, your calling is to be faithful. You are to do that which God has given to you, to serve him in your daily work, your relationships, and everything else you do in life, so that one day, when you stand before the Lord, he might say to you: "Well done! You are a good servant. You have been faithful."
Mark D. Roberts is the senior advisor and theologian-in-residence for "Foundations for Laity Renewal." He is the author of several books including Can We Trust the Gospels? His article is adapted with permission from the original article "What Is Your Purpose in Life?" at TheHighCalling.org. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures quoted are taken from the New Living Translation.