This article was adapted from Purposeful Living, a structured and biblically grounded process for finding and fulfilling God’s call for your life. Learn more about Purposeful Living and get the free handbook.
God has shaped and prepared you to play a unique role in each step of your story. You have a destiny that will bring glory to God, share the grace of God, and extend the reign of God. Understanding your unique destiny starts with understanding what the Bible says about your purpose as one of God’s people.
Clarifying what the Bible says about your purpose helps you in three important ways:
- It declares why you exist. It captures the heart of why you are on this earth and why Jesus died for you.
- It defines your life—not in terms of what you think but what God thinks. It anchors your life in the character and call of God.
- It clarifies the non-negotiables. It identifies what never changes about who you are, regardless of circumstances.
Three steps for finding your purpose in the Bible
Here’s a three-step process you can follow to find your purpose according to Scripture.
1. Reflect on Scripture that is important to you.
List the Bible verses God uses to give your life focus, purpose, and direction. These are the verses that tell you who you are, what is important, and what you are called to do. They are probably the verses you turn to when you are confused, lost, or losing hope. They anchor your life.
- Note the reference or write out the verse or verses completely, whichever is most helpful for you.
- Paraphrase or summarize what each verse says to you.
- Explain why each verse or passage is important to you.
- Look for common themes.
- Reflect on how these verses generally function in your life (offer hope, give direction, bring correction, shape identity).
2. Reflect on Scripture about God’s purposes.
Read these passages, and reflect on the insights they provide regarding the purpose for the life of a follower of Jesus:
Ephesians 2:8–10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
Matthew 28:18–20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Philippians 2:1–8: If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Luke 9:46–48: An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
Philippians 3:8–11: More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
John 13:31–35: When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Colossians 3:2–17: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
John 15:1–11: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
1 Peter 2:4–5: Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
3. Identify your purpose based on Scripture.
Your biblical purpose isn’t a lengthy “to do” list of duties. It is an expression of why God created you. Draw on your reflections on Scripture and your answers to the questions from step 2 and write a statement that expresses your biblical purpose.
Tips for articulating your biblical purpose:
- Keep it short.
- Focus more on “being” than on “doing.” (Your purpose clarifies who God has shaped you to be. Understanding who God made you to be will prepare you to discover and pursue God’s vision for your life.)
- Use language that grips and energizes you.
Examples of biblical purpose statements
- “I live to bring glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through consistent worship, by my praise and in my life; to cultivate a life of intimacy with God; and to equip women and men for ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
- “The purpose of my life is to know God and hear his voice so I can live a life of servanthood and obedience; then I will be a God-defined person and a non-anxious presence in every situation.”
- “I exist to live in authentic intimacy with Jesus and let him shape my life in such a way that believers are encouraged and unbelievers are motivated to join me in the journey of discipleship.”