“If you live for yourself, your comfort, your glory, your fame, you will miss out on your very purpose. God created you to bring glory to him.”

Tim Challies, Do More Better
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What is your purpose?

Shift your mindset to ward off discouragement, frustration, and overwhelm. Life is not a rat race, but it is a race. Run to obtain the prize: the “well-done” of God as we enter His joy, eternally.

It is more important to do the right thing right now, to obey God in the present, than to make grand plans for obeying in the future.

While it is a good idea to think about what direction we are headed, so that we don’t wander aimlessly, we have to hold our plans for the future with a very loose and open hand, because God doesn’t tell us what the future holds, and He is the One Who directs the future, not us.

It is no wonder when discouragement, frustration, and overwhelm so easily creep in when we get caught up in feeling that life is a never-ending, scrambling rat race. That metaphor is another lying story we should not repeat to ourselves.

Sometimes we conclude that because we can never reach and maintain our ideal, then it is the ideal that is bringing us down. We’re tempted to stop trying to clean the house, organize the toys, lose the weight, balance the budget, or train the children because we never reach our desired goal, or if we do, it doesn’t last long. 

However, the primary problem is our paradigm, not our goal.

There are two ditches on each side of the road, and it’s easy to careen between the two. On the one hand, it’s much easier to just let life happen and live day by day without planning for or thinking about the future. We have enough to do without worrying about mission statements and visions and where we want to be in ten years. 

If our plans never work out as we want them to, why bother planning? On the other hand, we see that knowing where we’re going helps us make better decisions, so we plan everything out for the next ten years to the smallest minutia and break ourselves against our plans trying to make them come true.

Somehow, we have to navigate between happy-go-lucky drifting and stressed-out rigidity. We can only do this if we embrace the way God made the world. God made the world for a purpose. He made us for a purpose.

So if we live as if we have no purpose, no point we should be working toward, we are not walking in the truth. Yet, God is the One who not only created our purpose (which means it’s not ours to make up), He is also the One who holds the future in His hands; we do not.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

— 1 Corinthians 9:24

Step #1: Brain Dump

Remember that a brain dump is only a thinking exercise to help you recognize where you’re at and what you need next. It is not brainstorming for an action plan.

These prompts are to help you move from a muddled jumble in your head to concrete thoughts you can deal with rationally and prayerfully.

What relationship roles do you fulfill? What responsibilities do you have? What commitments have you made? What are your gifts and skills? How & where do you use them?

Do you feel like you are functioning at capacity, beyond your capacity, or under your capacity? Why do you think so? What does your husband think? How about your best friend?

What do you feel pressure to do or be? Where does the pressure come from?

A Christian Vision

When you look for help for that overwhelmed feeling in most time management or organizational books, the advice is usually to come up with a mission statement, a life vision, a 10 year plan, or any number of other long-term vision-making practices. 

The trouble is, usually we are admonished to make it up for ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I am not that creative and I’m always afraid I’ll get it wrong. 

The truth is, we don’t know what will happen today, much less what will happen in a year, five years, or a lifetime. We don’t even know how long our lifetime will be. What we do know is that we are where God has placed us, that God has given us duties to perform here and now, and that He is using those to further equip us for duties that He will send in the future. 

So instead of trying to control or guess what those future duties will be, just follow Him in the small things where you are right now and let Him unfold the future. After all, we don’t have direct control over most of the outcomes we’re working for in our lives and in our families. We do have control over our own actions, but not over what God will do with them. 

Doing what’s in front of you is not the same thing as aimless wandering though. It is easy to drift, just doing the next thing that presents itself, always working at the urgent, immediate level and never looking up and seeing where your efforts are taking you. 

Taking a step back and making some big picture (that is, more like a rough pencil sketch than an oil painting) plans. This sort of plan helps because it shows us how to make good choices now, not because we’re trying to accurately predict the future.

It is more important to do the right thing with what is right in front of you, to obey God in the present, than to make grand plans for obeying in the future. 

While it is a good idea to think about what direction we are headed, so that we don’t wander aimlessly, we have to hold our plans for the future with a very loose and open hand, because God doesn’t tell us details about what He has in store for us, and He is the One Who directs the future, not us.

Instead, you need to see where you are, what your duties are, and what direction you are headed.

We have to learn how to work not in order to rank higher than the women we compare ourselves to, not to earn our own or our children’s salvation, and not to burn ourselves out striving for a certain circumstance in the future. 

Do all for the glory of God.

We have to learn what it means to work for God’s glory, out of gratitude rather than fear. Working for God’s glory rather than our own means we aren’t doing our duty to earn points, to buy favor, or to get the outcome we want.

It means we look at how we can obey God here and now rather than how we can arm-wrestle Him into making others recognize our worth or even into making our children “turn out.” 

Instead, we ask Him to help us be faithful, and we trust He will use us and our efforts and our children to tell a story in the world that glorifies Him in the end. He will do that, and it will be messy along the way. He promises us it will all work for our good in the end, not that He has a formula that we can follow to get an easy life or a comfortable story. 

This perspective changes how we see our daily tasks as well as our long-term vision and goals. Rather than pulling goals and visions out of our imaginations, we need to pull them from God’s Word. Rather than seeking out self-glorifying projects, we need to submit to the life God has called us to. Rather than pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we seek to obey and glorify God and ask Him to work whatever results He wills. 

We plant and we water, but God gives the increase, and He does so on His timeframe and not our own. 

This is what it means to seek first the kingdom, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and have all these things added unto us. It means we are more concerned with our own daily faithfulness than with someone else’s. It means we repent when we fail and continually ask God to give us the grace to carry on. 

When we do this, we are walking humbly with our God, and our children and our community are affected at a much more fundamental level by our modeling than by our trying to micromanage their walks. 

Learning to make the right choice right now is learning wisdom. It is hard, but it is worth it. Each time we choose to do what we know is right instead of what gratifies our appetite or our laziness is a step of faithfulness that God blesses with His grace, giving us the strength to carry on. 

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

— Matthew 25:21

Step #2: Write a purpose statement.

We can help recalibrate our attitudes by consciously choosing our speech and pruning our words. It goes both ways. We influence what we meditate on by what we say. And we also influence what we talk about by what we think about.

Brain dump first. What is the bigger picture meaning and significance of your family and your role within the family? Think about your own significance as God’s child – in relationship to Him alone – apart from roles you play to others. Remember that all other relationships are transient, subject to death and decay. Your relationship with God is primary and eternal. 

Write a purpose statement. Fill in this phrase: “Because I was made to ___________ God,”. Then add your main clause: “God has called me to _____________”. Conclude the statement with one, two, or three process steps that will help you cultivate your growth: “and so every day I will ________________________.”

Add this statement to your cheat sheet, planner, or an index card so you review it regularly. 

Purpose Statement Examples:

Because I was made to glorify and enjoy God, God has called me to build his kingdom within our family; therefore, every day through prayer I will give my efforts into His hands to bless and use as He sees fit in my life and others’ lives.

Because I want to be more loving and gracious with my family and because I want to be a more engaging and joyful teacher, I will grow in patience by speaking with gentle words and choosing to smile.

Moving Forward with Purpose

Elisabeth Elliot has a well-known piece of advice to “do the next thing.”  She wrote:

“When I went back to my jungle station after the death of my first husband, Jim Elliot, I was faced with many confusions and uncertainties. I had a good many new roles, besides that of being a single parent and a widow. I was alone on a jungle station that Jim and I had manned together. I had to learn to do all kinds of things, which I was not trained or prepared in any way to do. It was a great help to me simply to do the next thing.

“Have you had the experience of feeling as if you’ve got far too many burdens to bear, far too many people to take care of, far too many things on your list to do? You just can’t possibly do it, and you get in a panic and you just want to sit down and collapse in a pile and feel sorry for yourself.

“Well, I’ve felt that way a good many times in my life, and I go back over and over again to an old Saxon legend, which I’m told is carved in an old English parson somewhere by the sea. I don’t know where this is. But this is a poem which was written about that legend. The legend is ‘Do the next thing.’ 

“The poem says, ‘Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care. Do it with reverence, tracing His hand who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.’ That is a wonderfully saving truth. Just do the next thing.

“So I went back to my station, took my ten-month-old baby, and tried to take each duty quietly as the will of God for the moment.”

It’s not always clear which fire to put out first when your house is full of needy people.

But what is clear is that God’s will for you is to give thanks and to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. That it part of the purpose of the fires God has allowed to spring up in your day.

Those needy people and the little emergencies placed in your day are the opportunities He’s given you to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are God’s will for you. 

So no matter what happens, you can orient yourself to the interruption, to the needs, to the emergency by asking God to give you the grace to grow in fruitfulness through it. These aren’t fruits that spring spontaneously in our hearts, they are fruits that the Spirit gives us when we ask for them through thankful prayer. 

Growing in them is the whole purpose. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.“

— Colossians 3:23-24

Step #3: Start with a baby step

Copy Colossians 3:23-24 and place it in a visible spot where you can review it daily.

Pray and offer your work up to the Lord and ask God to show you how to work for Him and not yourself or for the praise of man.

Faithfulness takes prayer.

Take time out to pray and ask God to show you His wonderful purpose that he is accomplishing through you.
Anna Burrowes,
Simply Convivial Member

Step #4: Iterate for progress

Here are some ways you might iterate on focusing regularly on your overarching life purpose:

Write a sentence or three about how your regular responsibilities are related to your relationship with God. See them through the lens of worship, service, and obedience.

Review and copy out your purpose statement weekly.

Repent. Rejoice. Repeat.

Knowing what our purpose is intellectually is not the same as owning it and working it out in our daily life. Our purpose, if we own it, motivates us like nothing else can.

If we find ourselves unmotivated to do the right thing, it is an indication that we either do not see how the task aligns with and moves us toward our purpose or we actually have some alternate purpose like making life as easy and comfortable as possible.

To glorify God is an all-encompassing purpose that gives significance to even the most mundane bits of life as well as its worst trials and sufferings. We need to keep it fixed before us.

Related Seminars & Meetups:


The reward of a work is to have produced it; the reward of effort is to have grown by it.

– A.G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life