Are You Still Struggling To Discern Your Purpose In Life?

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” Proverbs 19:21

Have you discerned your purpose in life yet? If you’re not quite sure, then you probably haven’t. Because when you do, it’s like a light bulb switching on. It’s that level of clarity. That level of awakening. You have a life for a reason. God didn’t breath life into you by accident. His breath was intentional. His breath was passionately expelled. You were passionately brought into being, with deep love.

God had a purpose in mind for you, as he breathed life into you.

Not understanding and living out your purpose in life can be painful. Why? Because when you aren’t living your own purpose that inherently means you’re living someone else’s.

Not understanding and living out your purpose in life can be painful. Why? Because when you aren’t living your own purpose that inherently means you’re living someone else’s. Doing this embeds deep stress and tension in your mind and body. Your soul knows when it’s not doing the work it was created to do, and it will send signals to you in the form of tension and stress. That’s how you get your own attention! Your life purpose has three elements. This means there are three different kinds of purpose-related stress you can experience:

For some, the stress of not living one’s purpose is skill-based.

You have innate gifts that your brain and body are ready to offer. When you don’t offer those gifts, you suffer. You feel frustrated. Thwarted. Underutilized. Stuck. I could do x, y, and z to far greater effect…so why aren’t I? This gets back to the “what” aspect of your purpose: What were you put on this Earth to do?

For others, it’s ideological.

You want and need to offer your innate gifts to causes you believe in. There is some wiggle room, here. After all, ideological progress is rooted in compromise. And yet, you must be honest with yourself – Are my beliefs gaining more traction than they’re losing as a result of my efforts? This is the “why” aspect of your purpose: Why were you put on this Earth to share your gifts?

If you are investing your gifts toward an ideology to which you do not actually subscribe, the stress will become overwhelming. The scientific name for this form of stress is called cognitive dissonance: forcing yourself to act in ways that are at odds with your true beliefs and values.

And for others, it’s spiritual.

You are personally called to serve a unique sliver of the world’s population. Do you know who those people are? Are they like you? Or, are you called to step to the fringes and serve those who are completely different than you?

Whom were you put on this Earth to serve?

This is the final element of your purpose. It’s also the element that can cause the deepest stress if you aren’t aware of how to fulfill it. This is because rather than being about skills or ideas, this part of your purpose is about your relationships with other people.

Consider, are you serving the people you were called to serve, alongside companions who received a similar call? When your answer is yes, there is no limit to the energy and focus you will experience, together. When the answer is no?

Whom you choose to serve and serve alongside in this life can either support you to thrive spiritually, or it can subtly, incrementally, prevent you from thriving. Consider, which of the three elements of your purpose have you discerned? And, where do you need greater clarity? To begin, take a closer look at which form of stress you’re feeling. To support you to pay attention, read these sentences out loud:

Am I offering my God-given gifts?

Am I offering my God-given gifts to a cause I believe in?

Am I offering my God-given gifts to a cause I believe in so that I may serve my people alongside my companions?

As you read, pay attention to the stress you feel in your mind and body. Memorize the sentences. Then, close your eyes and repeat them. If you are living your true purpose, you will feel an increasing lightness as you read. If you aren’t yet fulfilling your purpose, there will be one or more words in these sentences that cause your voice to become tight. This is tension. It’s your body talking to you!

Are you listening? God wants and needs you to tune in and discern the reason He put you here. And, you will. At that point, you will feel a peace beyond understanding knowing that you are fulfilling God’s purpose for your life!

Blessings on your journey!

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4


Mark W. Deterding
Mark W. Deterding
MARK Deterding is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach and the founder of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. His purpose is to work with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential. He has written two books, A Model of Servant Leadership, and Leading Jesus’ Way. With over three decades of experience directing companies and developing leaders, Mark created A Model of Servant Leadership parallel to the principles that Jesus himself illustrated. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work. He also conducts training programs to teach faith-based servant leadership principles. His greatest passion is seeing the impact servant leadership has on people’s lives and beyond. Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhanced employee passion, and improved business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. Mark lives in Alexandria, Minnesota with his wife Kim. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and three grandchildren, so far. To find out more about Mark and his work, visit Triune Leadership Services via the Link adjacent his Photo above.

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  1. Yes, I agree everyone has a purpose in life, but few take time to engage in what that might be. I believe God already knows since he knew you within the womb and created each of us uniquely, as is evident with our DNA. No one is identical, not even twins. If more looked for that purpose in life as they are able to “Discern”, wow! what would happen in their life!

    • I think you’re right Lynn. Taking time to discern God’s purpose for our life, based on the skills, values, passions, etc that He has blessed us with leads to life transformation! Thanks so much for your insights! Blessings on your week!

  2. Mark, thank you for this article and most importantly for including the questions to ponder. I have many interests and mini focus. It’s clear to me that I am not yet living my God-given purpose. Reading this, I wonder if, in fact, I am living someone else’s purpose. That’s one avenue I haven’t investigated, but now that you throw it out there, I will.

    • Great thoughts Jane. When you are living within your purpose, and allowing it to guide all your activity and decisions it is a great feeling. God has uniquely gifted you for that purpose and living it out brings glory to Him! Blessings on your purpose-filled journey.

  3. Having a purpose allows us to make sense of every days, our sacrifices, and all the thoughts we make. Have a purpose away from that sad sense of uselessness and impotence that, sooner or later, we all experienced. Having a purpose serves to try to plan our own existence in a certain direction, so driving our days is not the habit but what we believe. Having a purpose in life makes us motivated and helps us endure all the storms of human existence. Even the little motivation serves to give meaning and order to our days and our thoughts.

    • Thank you so much Aldo for these extremely meaningful and additive thoughts to the importance of purpose in our lives. So good! Blessings!

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