Purpose: Finding Your Chief End

I’m going to be straight with you: I think about myself a lot. I’m always on my mind.

Every thought that enters my mind, everything I read, everything I learn about, every decision, every event, every bit of news, every aspect of life and existence . . . it’s all filtered through the lens of how does this affect me? Often, that also includes my family, sometimes it includes my friends, but it always includes me. I am an immensely self-centered and selfish creature, even being in Christ, so I can’t imagine who I’d be apart from Him.

Now, before you go and judge me too harshly, I hope you’ll be honest with yourself and admit that you probably do the same thing. In fact, I think it’s safe to say everyone you know and everyone you don’t know does this. While upbringing and environment certainly play a role in just how self-centered and selfish we become, on some level we all suffer from this. Why? Because we, by our sinful human nature, are self-centered and selfish creatures. Whether we want to admit it or not, by nature most of us live as though the entire universe revolves around us; we live with tunnel vision that rarely looks beyond our own life and circumstances to the lives of others. For most devoted believers, it takes years of Holy Spirit driven sanctification and intentional discipline and discipleship to grow in Christ-like humility, selflessness, and to be able to put the words of Philippians 2:1–8 into practice.

So, why am I telling you this? What does this have to do with our purpose, our individual chief end in life? Well . . . just that! More often than not, each of us thinks individually about things like calling and purpose.

What’s MY purpose?

What’s MY calling?

What’s MY life about?

Am I fulfilling MY purpose?

Perhaps it’s partially a byproduct of Western culture, which is obsessed with individuality, with YOLO and looking out for number one, and with living our best life and following our bliss. Perhaps it’s simply that pesky human nature thing I mentioned earlier. Regardless, we tend to make things like our purpose so immensely individualistic, and we worry so intensely about whether or not we’re fulfilling our purpose, our calling, and getting the most out of life. And even worse, we tie things like vocation, marriage, and children (among other things) to these things as universal concepts—as a barometer of our success or failure at living out our purpose.

We believe things like, “If I’m not happy in my job then I must not be living out my true purpose and I’m missing out on my calling,” or “I’m in the wrong job because I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing my purpose in life,” or even, “If I’m not married with kids by 35, then I’m missing out on what God has for me.”

If you’ve ever felt anything like this, or if you’re currently feeling anything like this, know that 1) you’re not alone and 2) none of these things are true!

Your Purpose Isn’t That Personal

Wait, so my career doesn’t define my purpose? No.

It doesn’t matter if I work as a food server, a CEO, a social worker, a pro athlete, a teacher, a missionary in Iran, a customer service rep, or an electrician? No.

It doesn’t matter how much social influence I have or how many followers I have? No.

I don’t have to change jobs or get married or have 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence to fulfill my purpose? No.

I can accomplish my calling, live out my purpose, and find meaning and fulfillment in any situation? Yes!

Now, please don’t misunderstand, if you’re miserable at your job and dread going to work every day, it’s perfectly okay to pray about a career switch. But please don’t expect to switch jobs and suddenly find that everything in life will magically fall into place if you’re not actually living out your TRUE PURPOSE . . . a purpose that isn’t all that unique, individual, or personally crafted; a purpose you can accomplish at any job, in any neighborhood, city, or country, married or single, with kids or without, rich or poor. So, what is it?

The Chief End of Man and the Chief End of Me

I think the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it up beautifully and briefly: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Now, while this phrase is not a direct quote from the Word, the wisdom behind it absolutely is. Over and over again, the Bible shows us that human beings were created to bring glory to God, to exalt and enjoy relationship with Him. We were made to know Him, be known by Him, and called to make Him known! There is no higher calling or greater purpose. And this purpose can be fulfilled regardless of where we are.

Consider with me John 1:3–4 (NIV, emphasis added) which says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” and Romans 11:36 (NIV) which says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Life is all about Jesus. His light in our lives brings life, purpose, and meaning to everything we do, regardless of the career we find ourselves in, the city we’re in, or our season of life.

Now, consider Colossians 3:17 (HCSB, emphasis added): “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.”

Are you working in a job that you don’t find fulfilling? Find your fulfillment in Christ Jesus and view your workplace as your mission field and a place to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus. Friend, until you find your fulfillment and satisfaction in your relationship with Jesus, no dream job or relationship, no amount of money or pleasures will ever truly satisfy (John 4:1–42; John 6:22–51).

Finally, consider Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV): “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

God has prepared good works for you in Christ Jesus. Do you think these can’t be walked in if you’re in the “wrong” job or place? Do you think you can derail His plans for you or mess up your purpose through any actions you take? Friend, you don’t have that much power and control! He is sovereign, He is in control, and all things are worked together by Him for good to accomplish His purposes. So, trust in the Lord, trust in HIS purposes and plans, and trust that He has positioned you where you are to serve Him, be His ambassador, and walk in the good works He has prepared for you!

Similarly, the will of God for your life, as it’s talked about in Scripture, has much less to do with what you do and is almost entirely talked about in terms of who you are! In Romans 12:2 (NIV), Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That word for mind in the Greek means “the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining.”

He’s talking about being transformed in your innermost being, in the way you think and view the world. One Bible translator said it this way: “For the believer, mind is the organ of receiving God’s thoughts, through faith.”

And look at what happens when you receive God’s thoughts and are transformed by them. The rest of Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NKJV) says it this way: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” Did you catch that? To know God’s will is to understand God’s heart, mind, and character on a deep, intimate level. It’s not about doing specific things or making specific decisions, but becoming more like Jesus by spending time with Him in prayer, in His Word, and with His people. And as you grow in relationship with Him, those day-to-day decisions in your life become easier because you will have a greater understanding of God’s character, His heart, and the direction of where His Word will take you in life.

Conclusion

So, am I saying to never switch jobs or move somewhere else? To be resigned to whatever and wherever you find yourself now? No, not at all! I have switched jobs before as I felt the Lord lead me, my family has moved, and we’ve made major life-changing decisions that have led to greater joy or enjoyment in life. And that’s okay.

What I am saying is this:

  • Pray about everything and seek truth in Scripture.
  • Make decisions based on the wisdom found in the Word of God.
  • Live according to the Word of God.
  • Don’t hang all your hopes of satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning in your career, your lifestyle, your finances, your relationship status, or your season of life.
  • Don’t place so much emphasis on “living your best life” or following cultural trends.
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that the grass is greener in any other place or space in life just because someone’s social media feed makes their lifestyle look so glamorous and amazing. Because even if you get everything they have and you migrate to what looked like greener grass from afar, if you’re not accomplishing the chief end of glorifying God and enjoying Him, then nothing you do or accomplish will give you true meaning, purpose, or fulfillment.
  • Place your hope, security, satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning in Jesus and His purposes in the world.
  • Endeavor to glorify God, enjoy Him, know Him more and more intimately each day, and make Him known to those He has placed in your life.

Once you do these things, you’ll discover “the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12–13 NIV). That’s where true meaning, calling, fulfillment, joy, peace, and purpose are found, and that’s where life “in abundance” resides (John 10:10).

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.  

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