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Purpose or Assignment By Ron Frey

God’s Purpose or My Assignment?

The guest speaker at church shocked me with this statement: “God has not given you a purpose in life!” You could hear a pin drop as we waited for the next line. He repeated it for emphasis. “You do not have a God-given life purpose!” As he explained how trying to find your “purpose-driven life” misses the mark, I found myself increasingly defensive and a bit turned off.

But then he made his point: “God has a purpose. You have an assignment!”

Aha! My mind opened up to what he was saying. Acts 13:36 says “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” David served God’s purpose, not his own. He fulfilled the assignments God gave him in his various roles as a shepherd, warrior, military leader, worshiper, and king. Every role he played carried a specific assignment to fulfill God’s higher purpose for the nation of Israel and the world. David, as a steward of his God-given assignments, remained in a posture of submission to God’s leading and call, giving him success wherever he went.

It’s way too easy for me to become the “owner” of my life purpose, and thus feel as if I have to find it, fulfill it and succeed. But this approach can lead to the bondage of ownership over something that God never intended for me to have, or worry about. The alternative is to become a steward of my God-given assignment, and work to steward my assignment well. This frees me up from the burden of owning my own destiny and purpose, and allows me to rest in knowing that my assignment is to work according to God’s purpose. I can claim the promise

“…in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This posture also frees me from the comparison trap and leads to contentment.

While I agree that having a clear mission is vital to any enterprise, I am not persuaded that knowing your personal life purpose is the key to your success. Owning your life’s purpose, your mission, your “why,” leads you to a mission of your own making, and thus, places you in control. Yes, you may succeed at it. And for all outward appearances, you may even be lifted up as a model to emulate. But this may also hinder you from becoming the steward leader God ultimately intended you to be and cause you to miss out on the real assignment that God has for your life – an assignment that could lead to immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Jesus said,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

When Jesus explained God’s purpose to the disciples, Peter objected. But Jesus told him,

“you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men” (Matt. 16:23).

It’s impossible to serve God’s purpose when we are absorbed with our own agenda. We cannot “Seek first the Kingdom of God” when our primary focus is a mission of our own making.

Our first prayer should not be “Lord, what is my purpose in life?” but “Lord, what is your purpose, and my assignment to serve it?”

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Ron Frey is president of Frey Resource Group, helping nonprofit organizations achieve success in leadership, governance and fundraising.

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