It All Starts with God
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and
invisible, ... everything got started in him and finds its purpose in
COLOSSIANS 1:16 (MSG)
Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is
BERTRAND RUSSELL, ATHEIST
It's not about you.
The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal
fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It's far
greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and
ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you
must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for
The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of
years. That's because we typically begin at the wrong starting
point—ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like What do
I want to be? What should I do with my life? What
are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my
future? But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life's purpose.
The Bible says, "It is God who directs the lives of his creatures;
everyone's life is in his power."
Contrary to what many popular books, movies, and seminars tell you, you
won't discover your life's meaning by looking within yourself. You have
probably tried that already. You didn't create yourself, so there is no
way you can tell yourself what you were created for! If I handed you an
invention you had never seen before, you wouldn't know its purpose, and
the invention itself wouldn't be able to tell you either. Only the
creator or the owner's manual could reveal its purpose.
I once got lost in the mountains. When I stopped to ask for directions
to the campsite, I was told, "You can't get there from here. You
must start from the other side of the mountain!" In the same way, you
cannot arrive at your life's purpose by starting with a focus on
yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because
God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for
God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It
is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning,
our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads
to a dead end.
Many people try to use God for their own self-actualization, but that is
a reversal of nature and is doomed to failure. You were made for God,
not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for his
purposes, not your using him for your own purpose. The Bible says,
"Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God
leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life."
I have read many books that suggest ways to discover the purpose of my
life. All of them could be classified as "self-help" books because they
approach the subject from a self-centered viewpoint. Self-help books,
even Christian ones, usually offer the same predictable steps to finding
your life's purpose: Consider your dreams. Clarify your values. Set some
goals. Figure out what you are good at. Aim high. Go for it! Be
disciplined. Believe you can achieve your goals. Involve others. Never
Of course, these recommendations often lead to great success. You can
usually succeed in reaching a goal if you put your mind to it. But being
successful and fulfilling your life's purpose are not at all the
same issue! You could reach all your personal goals, becoming a raving
success by the world's standard, and still miss the purposes for
which God created you. You need more than self-help advice. The Bible
says, "Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my
way, to finding yourself, your true self."
This is not a self-help book. It is not about finding the right career,
achieving your dreams, or planning your life. It is not about how to
cram more activities into an overloaded schedule. Actually, it will
teach you how to do less in life—by focusing on what
matters most. It is about becoming what God created you to be.
How, then, do you discover the purpose you were created for? You have
only two options. Your first option is speculation. This is what
most people choose. They conjecture, they guess, they theorize. When
people say, "I've always thought life is ...," they mean, "This is the
best guess I can come up with."
For thousands of years, brilliant philosophers have discussed and
speculated about the meaning of life. Philosophy is an important subject
and has its uses, but when it comes to determining the purpose of life,
even the wisest philosophers are just guessing.
Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois
University, once wrote to 250 of the best-known philosophers,
scientists, writers, and intellectuals in the world, asking them, "What
is the meaning of life?" He then published their responses in a book.
Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a
purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were
clueless. In fact, a number of famous intellectuals asked Professor
Moorhead to write back and tell them if he discovered the purpose of
Fortunately, there is an alternative to speculation about the meaning
and purpose of life. It's revelation. We can turn to what God has
revealed about life in his Word. The easiest way to discover the purpose
of an invention is to ask the creator of it. The same is true for
discovering your life's purpose: Ask God.
God has not left us in the dark to wonder and guess. He has clearly
revealed his five purposes for our lives through the Bible. It is our
Owner's Manual, explaining why we are alive, how life works, what to
avoid, and what to expect in the future. It explains what no self-help
or philosophy book could know. The Bible says, "God's wisdom ... goes
deep into the interior of his purposes.... It's not the latest message,
but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring
out his best in us."
God is not just the starting point of your life; he is the source of it.
To discover your purpose in life you must turn to God's Word, not the
world's wisdom. You must build your life on eternal truths, not pop
psychology, success-motivation, or inspirational stories. The Bible
says, "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are
living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up,
he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the
overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." This
verse gives us three insights into your purpose.
1. You discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with
Jesus Christ. If you don't have such a relationship, I will later
explain how to begin one.
2. God was thinking of you long before you ever thought about him. His
purpose for your life predates your conception. He planned it before you
existed, without your input! You may choose your career, your
spouse, your hobbies, and many other parts of your life, but you don't
get to choose your purpose.
3. The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that
God has designed for eternity. That's what this book is about.
Andrei Bitov, a Russian novelist, grew up under an atheistic Communist
regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, "In my
twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St.
Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to
stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning.
Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no
sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a
moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God's light."
You may have felt in the dark about your purpose in life.
Congratulations, you're about to walk into the light.
Thinking about My Purpose
POINT TO PONDER: It's not about me.
VERSE TO REMEMBER: "Everything got started in him and finds
its purpose in him." COLOSSIANS 1:16B (MSG)
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: In spite of all the advertising around me,
how can I remind myself that life is really about living for God, not
MESSAGE TO HEAR: www.purposedriven.com/day1
You Are Not an Accident
I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.
ISAIAH 44:2A (CEV)
God does not play dice.
You are not an accident.
Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of
nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not
at all surprised by your birth. In fact, he expected it.
Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in
the mind of God. He thought of you first. It is not fate, nor chance,
nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment.
You are alive because God wanted to create you! The Bible says, "The
Lord will fulfill his purpose for me."
God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose
your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature.
He custom-made your body just the way he wanted it. He also determined
the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your
personality. The Bible says, "You know me inside and out, you know
every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how
I was sculpted from nothing into something."
Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be
born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your
life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The
Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of
my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your
God also planned where you'd be born and where you'd live for his
purpose. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail
to chance. He planned it all for his purpose. The Bible says,
"From one man he made every nation, ... and he determined the times
set for them and the exact places where they should live." Nothing
in your life is arbitrary. It's all for a purpose.
Most amazing, God decided how you would be born. Regardless of
the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan
in creating you. It doesn't matter whether your parents were good, bad,
or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed
exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom "you" he
had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you.
While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate
children. Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not
unplanned by God. God's purpose took into account human error, and even
God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He
has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was
planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
God's motive for creating you was his love. The Bible says, "Long
before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled
on us as the focus of his love."
God was thinking of you even before he made the world. In fact,
that's why he created it! God designed this planet's environment just so
we could live in it. We are the focus of his love and the most valuable
of all his creation. The Bible says, "God decided to give us life
through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the
things he made." This is how much God loves and values you!
God is not haphazard; he planned it all with great precision. The more
physicists, biologists, and other scientists learn about the universe,
the better we understand how it is uniquely suited for our existence,
custom-made with the exact specifications that make human life
Dr. Michael Denton, senior research fellow in human molecular genetics
at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has concluded, "All the
evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core
proposition ... that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life
and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all
facets of reality have their meaning and explanation in this central
fact." The Bible said the same thing thousands of years earlier: "God
formed the earth.... He did not create it to be empty but formed it to
Why did God do all this? Why did he bother to go to all the trouble of
creating a universe for us? Because he is a God of love. This kind of
love is difficult to fathom, but it's fundamentally reliable. You were
created as a special object of God's love! God made you so he could love
you. This is a truth to build your life on.
The Bible tells us, "God is love." It doesn't say God has
love. He is love! Love is the essence of God's character. There
is perfect love in the fellowship of the Trinity, so God didn't
need to create you. He wasn't lonely. But he wanted to make you
in order to express his love. God says, "I have carried you since you
were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are
old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will
take care of you. I made you and will take care of you."
If there was no God, we would all be "accidents," the result of
astronomical random chance in the universe. You could stop reading this
book, because life would have no purpose or meaning or significance.
There would be no right or wrong, and no hope beyond your brief years
here on earth.
But there is a God who made you for a reason, and your life has
profound meaning! We discover that meaning and purpose only when
we make God the reference point of our lives. The Message paraphrase of
Romans 12:3 says, "The only accurate way to understand ourselves is
by what God is and by what he does for us."
This poem by Russell Kelfer sums it up:
You are who you are for a reason.
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God's special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You're just what he wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God's plan in
mind, And they bear the Master's seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you'd grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!
Thinking about My Purpose
POINT TO PONDER: I am not an accident.
VERSE TO REMEMBER: "I am your Creator. You were in my care
even before you were born." ISAIAH 44:2 (CEV)
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: I know that God uniquely created me. What
areas of my personality, background, and physical appearance am I
struggling to accept?
MESSAGE TO HEAR: www.purposedriven.com/day2
Excerpted from "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" by Rick Warren. Copyright © 2013 by Rick Warren. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.