Grand Canyon University is well known for its slogan, “Find Your Purpose.” While only three simple words, the slogan is not necessarily easy to define. It elicits more questions than answers. Questions like:
- How does one go about finding their purpose?
- What exactly is a purpose anyway? Is it the same as a calling? Is it my career? My family? My ministry? A combination of these?
- Can my purpose or calling change over time?
All are great questions worth thoughtful consideration. Before diving into them, let’s take a journey into the Bible to see what Jesus has to say about our purpose or calling.
In This Article:
- The Greatest Commandment = Our Foundational Purpose
- Step #1: Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever
- Step #2: Am I My Brother’s Keeper
- Finding Your Purpose/Calling
The Greatest Commandment = Our Foundational Purpose
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus is asked by a group of Jewish law experts what is the greatest commandment. Without hesitation, Jesus replied,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
By asking Jesus to summarize the law into one great commandment, these experts were basically wanting Jesus to summarize humanity’s purpose. In other words, why do we exist and how should we be living our lives?
Jesus’ answer was that our purpose/calling must flow out of these two great commandments. Whatever we do, we must
- Love God with every fiber of our being and
- Value and respect God’s image bearers (i.e., humanity) by displaying love toward them just as you would your own self.
Whatever we do with our life should fit within the foundational purpose of loving God and loving people. Let’s take a brief look at both.
Step #1: Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever
The discussion of purpose is not new to our generation. For example, in 1646, a group of English and Scottish theologians and laypeople met to develop a catechism to help believers better understand Christian doctrine.
A catechism is a summary of Christian principles set in a question-and-answer format. The very first question within this catechism was: What is the chief end of man? In other words, what is humanity’s purpose? Why do we exist? Their answer was to glorify God and enjoy him forever, which is basically synonymous with the greatest commandment given by Jesus.1
Step #2: Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
In Genesis chapter 4 we read about the tragic tale of Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel, his brother, out of jealousy and the inability to control his anger. God then confronts Cain to give an accounting of his actions and Cain tries to pull one over on the Creator of the Universe by claiming he did not know where his brother is. He says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
Cain did not love his brother. He felt no responsibility toward him and had no care for the value of human life. He was self-centered. Cain is the poster child for how not to find your purpose. Instead, our purpose, or calling, must consider service to others. We see this command in Galatians 6:2, where the Apostle Paul commands us to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Finding Your Purpose/Calling
With the foundation of loving God and others set, it becomes easier to answer the questions posed at the beginning of this article. Basically, we are free to pursue any purpose if it fits within the boundary created by the greatest commandments. True freedom, happiness and contentment is achievable if we stay within the boundary. Ironically, falling outside these God-created boundaries often causes bondage, unhappiness and discontent.
Finally, it is important to note that every Christian has a calling. A calling is not just reserved for pastors, missionaries and others who are planning to go into full-time ministry. Doctors, social workers, plumbers, lawyers and homemakers are all called to reflect Christ in all that they do. Fathers, mothers, spouses, friends and other relationships can also be part of our calling as we seek to demonstrate Christian love and compassion.
Love God, love people. Fulfill your purpose.
Approved by the online faculty chair for the College of Theology on Feb. 24, 2023.
1 Retrieved from Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1.1
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.