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How do I find my purpose here on earth?


How do I find my purpose here on earth?

Steve Answers:

I hardly ever hear this question from children, but I hear it frequently from teens. And adults ask me this same question, too. Why does that matter? Because your question is one that many other teens just like you are asking right now. And you can anticipate that you will ask it again later in your life.

How do you find your purpose here on earth? Usually people want to know some specific answers to some major questions. One of these is often “What should I be when I grow up (physician, cosmetologist, preschool teacher, kayak racer, church janitor, office manager, etc.)?”

That raises additional questions along the way, such as “Where should I go to school?” If that’s an Adventist school, “How will I pay for it? Should I go where my friends are going or should I start somewhere else on my own?”

Another major question is “Whom should I marry? Is the person who has my attention right now the person who is just right for me? What if that person doesn’t know God has matched us for eternity? Should I be dating somebody right now? If so, who? If not, why not? Or when?”

And the questions continue.

When we look to Scripture for guidance and examples, we usually focus on only a few that we like. For example, here’s a verse that encourages many: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV).1

Just think, before you were even forming in your mother’s womb, God had a plan for you! Sounds good, right? But how do you discover that plan? For Jeremiah, it came in a direct communication from God to him (see Jeremiah 1:2, 3). Have you received that yet? If you haven’t, you’re like most people. If you have received a direct communication from God, it might not necessarily mean happy times and popularity.

Here’s what Jeremiah had to say after he passed on the special messages that God had given him: “I have become a joke; everyone makes fun of me all day long” (Jeremiah 20:7, NCV). And this came after Jeremiah had been beaten, then had his arms and legs locked in a wooden stockade in the temple (see verse 2). Maybe those direct messages from God aren’t what you want, at least if you want an easy life.

An angel appeared to Zechariah to announce the amazing birth of John the Baptist. You can read about that in Luke 1:11-17. It sounds very promising. But even though John had quite an experience preparing the way for the Messiah, you might not want everything that came with his life (see Luke 7:18, 19; Mark 6:16-29; Matthew 3:4, 5).

Abraham received direct messages from God about his future. God called him to leave his country and go to a completely unknown place. And God didn’t give him any further details (see Genesis 12:1). But that message didn’t come until Abraham was 75 years old! You might have a few decades until you’re there.

And God didn’t give Abraham a clear message every day. Sometimes it was years until he heard from God again. And then God told him to go sacrifice Isaac, the miracle baby. That makes me wonder if I really want to receive direct messages from God. Sometimes we just want to know what’s going to happen in our lives. We don’t really want an ongoing relationship with God day by day.

Here’s one more example: King David started as a shepherd boy—the youngest of eight boys. Samuel anointed him to be the next king of Israel (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13). But David returned to taking care of sheep after Samuel anointed him! Does that sounds like preparation to become a king? After David killed Goliath, he still didn’t become king. Instead, he had to run as a fugitive for years from King Saul (see 1 Samuel 19-27).

I’ve picked these examples from the Bible because the majority of people in Bible times didn’t get direct answers from God. And those who did get direct messages from God usually didn’t have a simple or easy life. If you get a direct answer from God, follow it! If you don’t, what should you do?

Here’s an overall principle for you to follow. It comes from a familiar passage in Romans. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).2 That sounds as though everything is going to be good. It is. But that’s in the end. It might not seem like that along the way.

And what is the end goal? Romans 8:29 gives the answer: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (NLT).3

God wants you to become like Jesus. That doesn’t tell you which vocation you should pursue, which college to attend, whom to marry, or where to live. It focuses on your character and lifestyle—become like Jesus. And you can see what that’s like by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

That might not be what you wanted to hear, but I share it with you because it’s so important. I think that is your purpose on earth—to become like Jesus. But you may want something that gives you a few more steps. A pastor shared this with me when I asked him the same question during my teen years. You can find it online in the middle of the chapter:

Here are three things you can do right now:
1. Do your best right where you are, right now. Give it all you’ve got!
2. Commit everything you do to God—dedicate it to God each day.
3. Watch for God to open and close doors.

Another way to say this is to follow what Christ’s disciples did. When they saw John the Baptist point to Jesus as God, they put themselves right in the middle of Christ’s activity (see John 1:35-51). Look for what God is doing, and put yourself in the middle of it. That’s your purpose on earth right now! 

1 Scriptures credited to NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
2 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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