Defining Yourself

When we consider who defines us, the different opinions of us that various people might have, what matters most is how God defines us, and the ways in which we define ourselves, in response to His definition. Who we are, of course, is complex, but much of it has to do with what we value and where we want to go in life.

There are several ways to discover your life purpose. One of the following methods could be an eye-opening experience for you. It could also add much value and richness to your life.

The Obituary: One way to approach purpose is to think about coming to the end of your life and looking back on all you’ve become and all you’ve accomplished. What do your actions and behaviors say about your purpose? If one knew nothing about what you believed and valued, what would they know about your life purpose based on what they observed you doing during your life? If you were attending your own funeral and someone who knew you well was delivering your obituary, what would you truly want to hear them say about you? How would you desire more than anything to be described at that moment?

The Personal Profile: This is another good tool to discover who you are and how you are wired; what are your strengths, gifts, talents, temperament, passion, values, and unique life experiences? Knowing your personal profile gives big clues to the unique purpose you are called to and equipped to live. Life purpose is the reason we are on this planet. It’s the thing we are meant to accomplish, the gift we are meant to bring. It’s not simply about a job or even a vocation. It is the round-the-clock, twenty-four-hour, every-day-of-your-life expression of who you are when you are reaching your full potential. Life purpose is spiritual in origin and uniquely shaped to you. So looking at how you are “shaped” helps you discover what your unique life purpose is, the special contribution you have been equipped to make in the lives of others and this world.

The truth is, when we are “on purpose” we are most fulfilled. We are contributing and making a difference in transformative and meaningful ways. We live with a sense of congruence and alignment with who we feel we really are. We consequently have a much higher level of peace and passion because we know deep inside that we’re living out our true purpose, our life, and not someone else’s life or the life someone else thinks we should live. Our life satisfaction level is profoundly high because we can see that we’re making meaningful contributions to others. We are living in harmony with God’s dream for our lives and that brings with it a profound sense of joy.

And the flip side is equally true: when we are “off purpose” we are discontented and unfulfilled. We feel off balance and rudderless, just kind of going with wherever the popular flow goes. We use up lots of energy that doesn’t go anywhere. It’s simply spinning our wheels, going fast but going nowhere. We’re easily distracted by whatever voice shouts the loudest; the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We tend to say Yes to too many things and then get overtired. We lose our sense of direction and get easily confused. So we end up often feeling dead, disconnected, dissatisfied, and ultimately burned out too quickly and too often. And we come to the end of our lives and have lots of regrets. On the other hand, a clear life purpose is like a big neon sign that helps us find our way out of the swamp when we get stuck.

The Mission Statement: A third tool is to try writing your life purpose in one sentence. “For me, to live is …”(complete the sentence). “For me, to be fully alive is …” (complete the sentence). “My true life legacy will be …” (complete that sentence). It has been said that life purpose is a path. It is like East. You cannot ever get to a place called East—it is a direction, not a location—but you may be on a path your whole life going in that direction. There will be plenty of voices, internal and external, telling you to go in different directions. And sometimes you will listen, especially when you are unsure of your purpose. But finding and claiming a life purpose gives you the truest direction for your life. A true life purpose statement can make you virtually unstoppable.*


* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.