A very common reason someone may pursue counseling is to find or redefine his or her purpose. Identifying purpose and passion will often drive the therapy in a positive direction and help people to see past their own problems in order to consider future goals. However, it is important to examine if there is such a thing as a misguided purpose.
A person’s purpose often is broken down into three different categories:
- What I want to do for myself
- What I want to do for others
- What I want to do for a specific cause I believe in.
For a purpose to mean anything to a person, there has to be a significant passion behind it. Bishop T.D. Jakes defined purpose this way, “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” Ideally, a person will have a passion to achieve pursuits that help others and forward a cause they believe in, not just pursue things for self-centered reasons. The passion and purpose which helps others and promotes God’s cause is a way to live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20).
When someone is struggling to confidently change their purpose to where they know it should be and not where it naturally is, it is helpful to consider the following five aspects:
- Understand the why in what you do – Often a misunderstood and under-evaluated area of our lives. Most of the tasks completed on a daily basis are done because it feels like it has to be done or it is expected. To truly understand why you want to do something will help give a passion and purpose to completing much of life’s tasks and help redefine identity.
- Do things that build community – Who doesn’t want to live in a great community where you feel happy and safe? It may feel impossible to achieve this given the current state of the world. Building “community” means we start within our homes and then begin to do our part in branching out. This could mean building connections within family, peer groups, neighbors, local organizations within the town you live, or helping to donate towards a bigger cause.
- Know that God gives everyone a purpose – Each person is given different skills and talents to be used in a healthy way. It is a good idea for every adult to take a spiritual gifts test. These tests can be found online and most likely a local church could administer it as well. Understanding what your spiritual gifts are can help identify how it can be used. Parents that have small children should also be emphasizing with their kids that they too have spiritual gifts that can be used.
- Purpose and passions changes as our lives change – What your purpose and passions may have been when you were 20 years old could likely be different then when you are 40 or even 60 years old. Passions change and sometimes purposes change. This is normal and certainly acceptable as long as the purpose continues to pursue a balance between self, others, and important causes.
- Be patient – Understanding your passions and purpose can take time. Be careful in making quick and radical changes. There is a difference between being emotional and led by the Holy Spirit. If God has confirmed something within you on a certain day then you will continue to receive this confirmation as you pray about it and talk about it with others (Romans 8:28 and Proverbs 19:21).
Michael Linn is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is the owner of Resolute Counseling, located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached by calling 717-264-0450 or visiting www.resolutecounseling.com.