Robert Jeffress - Choosing Purpose Over Aimlessness
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". At some point in life every person wonders. Why am I here? Some people decide that life is about having fun. Others make it their goal to accumulate a lot of stuff or to chase after fame or power. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with each pursuit, they're awfully shortsighted when compared to eternity. You see, you and I were created for a bigger purpose than you might realize. So how can you identify God's purpose for your life? My message today is titled, choosing purpose over aimlessness. On today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Thomas Chalmers once said, the grand essentials for happiness are something to love, something to do and something to hope for. What Chalmers is talking about is the importance of having a purpose in life. Purpose is the foundation upon which we build our actions, our affections, our aspirations. Having a purpose is like having an engine that drives our life. A purpose is like a beacon in the darkness that gives our lives direction in times of uncertainty. And yet as important as it is to have a purpose, studies have shown that less than 3% of Americans have a clearly defined purpose in life or the goals and objectives to meet that purpose.
In our series, Choose Your Attitudes Change Your Life. We're talking about 11 biblical attitude choices that are essential for living the life God wants us to experience. And I could certainly make an argument about why each one of these choices is the most important one. But if I were going to say which attitude choice is the most essential, certainly the one we're talking about today would be close to, if not at the top of the list. And that is the choice of how we go through life. How do we spend the limited time God has given us here on earth? We can do so aimlessly and just simply reacting to whatever comes our way each day. Or we can choose to live our life with purpose.
And today we're going to talk about the importance of choosing purpose over aimlessness in life. Today we're going to talk about how to discover your God given purpose in life. Now when we talk about your purpose, it's important to clarify the difference between a purpose, objectives and goals in your life. Let's look, first of all at purpose a purpose statement simply answers the question, why do I exist? It doesn't have to be a long treatise. It can be a simple statement about your unique purpose in life. Why did God create you? Why are you occupying real estate on planet earth?
You know, organizations have purpose statements. Hopefully a church has a clearly defined a purpose. You know in our church, we understand and believe the great commission Jesus gave. To go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you.
And from that great commission, First Baptist Dallas has developed a mission statement. Our purpose is to transform the world with God's word one life at a time. And that means everything we do as a church is directed toward either winning people to Christ, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or once they become Christians, developing them into disciples, teaching them to observe all things Christ has commanded us. And anything that doesn't contribute to either evangelism or discipleship may be a nice thing to do. It may be a good thing to do, but it's not what we're called to do. A purpose statement gives us as a church direction. And what's true about organizations, businesses, and churches is true about individuals as well. We need to have a clearly defined purpose statement.
Now, you know in our series Choosing the Extraordinary Life, we talked about the difference between a general purpose and a specific purpose. I mean, as Christians we all have a general purpose of glorifying God, having fellowship with him, leading people to faith in Christ. But each of us should have a specific reason for living as well. Remember we said that God is telling a story throughout the universe of his love and redemption through Christ. But God is also writing an individual's story in your life to tell his story. And so when we talk about discovering your purpose, we're talking about discovering that unique reason that God has created you.
And there are two keys, the Bible says, to discovering your unique purpose. The answer to the question, why do you exist? And those two keys are both found in Philippians 2:13. I like the way J.B. Phillips paraphrases this verse. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose. God has given you first of all, a will, a desire, a passion, if you will, to accomplish your purpose. And so the first key to discovering that unique purpose is to identify your passion. What is it that you see that causes you concern in the world today?
One way God reveals his purpose for your life is by the unique passion, the desire he has given you. For example, here is a business person who is concerned about the fact that many Christians in business compartmentalize their faith. They have never integrated their business with faith. And this person believes that the Bible has a lot to say about how to run a business according to biblical principles. So he makes it his his life purpose. To be a model Christian businessman for other business people to show how to integrate biblical principles with your business, that's his passion.
What passion do you have? What is it that inspires you? What is it that makes you angry? What needs do you see in the world that keep you awake some nights? God puts a passion in our heart, you know, every live somebody said is focused either to fill a greed or to meet a need. And the passion God puts in your heart is not to fill your own greed, but to meet a genuine need in the world. It is God who is at work within you, giving you the will to do his will.
But there's a second key in that verse, and that is, he gives you both the will and the power. That is the ability, the giftedness to achieve your unique purpose. If God has called you to do something, he's not only going to give you a passion for it, he's going to give you a special gift in order to fulfill that passion. And that's why the second key in discovering your purpose is identifying your gifts and your abilities.
Let me show you why that's so important. You know, let's just say for example, I looked around the world and I said, "You know what the greatest need in the world is I think is to find a cure for cancer". So I think maybe I'll devote my life to finding a cure for cancer. How many of you would think that was a worthy goal? Okay, I could develop quite a passion for that. I mean, I could talk about how cancer affected my own family and took my parents prematurely. I can have a real passion for it. The only problem with me devoting my life to that is I have no gifts in science whatsoever. I mean, I almost flunked out of high school biology because I couldn't see anything in the microscope. Everybody else saw these things swimming, I never saw anything in a microscope.
So I'm probably not the one to find a cure for cancer. Because if God is going to gift you to do something, he's not going to only give you the passion, he's going to give you the corresponding gifts and abilities, that's what Philippians 2:13 is. It is God giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose, knowing what your passion is, what your giftedness is, will help you identify your purpose and help you fill out that sentence. My purpose in life is to what?
Now remember, we all have a general purpose in life. Jesus said that in John 4:34. Jesus said, "My food, that is my purpose is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work". That ought to be the purpose statement of every Christian, but Jesus also understood he had a unique purpose in coming to earth, that nobody else could fulfill. In Matthew 20 verse 28 he said, "Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many".
Once we define our God given purpose in life, it's important to connect every part of our life to that overarching purpose statement. And that's where objectives come in. A definition of an objective is, an objective is a simple statement, expressing desires for specific areas of our life. No matter what your purpose is, you've got to be able to connect that to every part of your life. Your spiritual life, your family relationships, your work, every part of your life. And objectives are the way to do that.
Let me show you how to develop the objectives for the seven major areas of your life. I've put on your outline a grid showing the seven major life areas. Spiritual, physical that is your health, family, vocational, personal growth, social, financial. What I want to ask you to do, perhaps not right now, but sometime is you work through this material, give yourself a grade on a scale of one to ten about how you think you're doing in each of these areas. How are you doing in your spiritual relationship with God? How's your health doing? How are you doing with your finances? How are you doing in every area of life?
Now, one would be the least, 10 would be you're knocking it out of the park. You know in some of those areas you may feel like you're doing great. You'd give yourself a seven, eight, nine, 10. If that's true in those areas your objective would be, I want to keep doing, whatever it is that's given you success in that area. However if it's less than a seven it might help you formulate some things of what you would like to do in those areas to improve. Remember a purpose statement completes the sentence. My reason for living is to, but an objective statement complete the sentence I want to or I want to continue doing whatever for each of these areas.
Let me show you how that works. Let's just say you happen to be that Christian business person, a man or a woman, and you really want to show other people how the Bible has principles that will help you in business. You want to integrate your business with your Christian faith. So how would that affect all these areas of your life? What about your spiritual life? Well wont you agree with me, if you are going to operate your business by biblical principles, you have to know what those principles are.
And so maybe you say, "I want to know the Bible better. That's a goal I have. I want to know the Bible better". Or maybe in your physical life you would say, "Ou know, I want to be a model Christian business person. I want to spend the rest of my life doing this, but I'm in terrible health, now if I keep going like this, I'm not going to be around that much longer". Well it's hard to be a model to other people if you're dead. So you might say in your physical life, "I want to live a long life or I'm going to get in better shape". Or maybe in your family area, you gave yourself a three or four in that area and you would say, "You know, if I'm going to model the principles of business in the scripture, I need to teach people how to balance their business with their family life or maybe their vocation".
You know, you may be a Christian businessman, but your business is headed for bankruptcy and nobody wants to model that kind of business. So you might say in your vocation, "I want to start growing my business more". You see, your objectives all ought to tie into the purpose that God has given you. You identify what your purpose is, discover your purpose, your reason for living, why God created you, then you develop objectives that will help you meet that overall purpose statement. And that leads to the third word goals, formulating specific goals. Goals are the vehicles by which we transform our objectives into reality. That this is where a lot of people get mixed up and quite frankly, it's the reason so many people live aimless lives, they don't have clearly defined goals.
Let me give you a definition of a goal. A goal is a desired accomplishment that is easily measured by time and performance. It's a desired accomplishment that can be measured by timing for performance. For example here I say, "Well I want to know the Bible better". Is that a goal? No, that's an objective, but it's not a goal. I mean to just say I want to know my Bible better. Well how will you know when you know it better? No, a goal would be specific. I want to read one chapter of the Bible every day beginning today. The accomplishment is clear. A chapter of the Bible every day and there's a time attached to it. A start time or a finish time by just starting today. Or maybe you would say, "You know, I want to be thinner".
We all have that goal most of us. Is that a goal? No, that's an objective, I want it to be thinner. A goal would be a specific accomplishment. I want to lose five pounds, that's the accomplishment. And I want to attach a date to it, by April the 30th. Anytime you're formulating a goal, remember a goal answers the question, what do I want to happen? That's the accomplishment. Secondly, how will I know it happened? What's the measurement. And when do I want this to happen? The starting date or the completion date. And I've given you some examples of goals in your life. Reading a chapter of the Bible every day. Or in the physical world, I want to exercise at least 20 minutes a day, beginning tomorrow.
Tomorrow is always a better time to start that program, but you see at least you've got an objective down there. You've got a time that you're going to start doing this and on and on and on it goes. That's the difference between a purpose, objectives to help you meet that purpose and goals that will help you meet your objectives. Now I know you all well enough to know. To know some of you are probably sitting here thinking, should we really be talking about this in church? I mean aren't we supposed to be talking about evangelism and discipleship? Why are we talking about goals? Ladies and gentlemen, there is no more effective way to be a disciple of Jesus Christ than by discovering his unique purpose for your life and living out that purpose. That is why God left us here to fulfill his unique purpose for us.
I love the way Ephesians 5:15-17 reads again in the J.B. Phillips paraphrase. We read it from the new American standard version a few moments ago. Let me read this to you, from the Phillips paraphrase. Paul writes, live life then with a due sense of responsibility. Not as men who don't know the meaning and purpose of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the evils of these days. Don't be vague, but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord. What Paul is talking about is, know your purpose.
In his book "The Deeper Life", Daniel Henderson writes, I've heard it said many times, you're not really ready to live until you know what you want written on your tombstone. If you were to die today, would those who know you the best be able to say, this is why you lived? That's a profound question, would those who know you the very best at your funeral, be able to stand up and say, this is the purpose for which you lived. Is it clear to you why you're here? When this life comes to an end, will you look back and conclude that you have lived well and significantly. Now get this: the great tragedy in life is not death. The great tragedy in life is life without purpose.