When I graduated five years ago, I didn’t have a life plan.
I remember wrestling with uncertainty, trying to figure out what was next as I attempted to answer the bombardment of What’s next? questions. I felt the suffocating pressure to have my life plan mapped out by graduation day. I’m sure many 2021 graduates can relate.
In the five years since I received my diploma, I’ve experienced numerous twists and turns that have taught me that there is something crucially more important than my life plan: my life purpose.
Are We Missing the Purpose?
Do you ever wonder if we’re missing the point? If, in the midst of making plans, applying to prospective colleges, and setting out on desired career paths, we unintentionally overlook and minimize the overarching purpose of our lives?
The world views purpose primarily through the lens of external success. Your purpose is packaged within a job, degree, or bank account and you arrive at your purpose by choosing the route that will lead to the greatest success.
But look at purpose through the lens of a biblical worldview and the perspective diametrically shifts. The gospel offers us a life purpose far beyond the transient things of this world—to enjoy and exalt God in all of His glory and spread His glory among all people and nations. This isn’t a purpose we select for ourselves, but one we either accept or reject from God’s hand.
Instead of encouraging earthly success, Christ calls us to prioritize the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:20) Instead of guiding us to greater ease and comfort, Jesus challenges us to shoulder our cross and follow Him. (Luke 9:58) Instead of promoting our own names, Jesus commissions us to go out and proclaim His. (Mark 16:15) Life purpose for the follower of Christ has little to do with external success according to culture’s measurements, but rather glorifying, exalting, and obeying the One we follow. Life purpose for the follower of Christ has little to do with external success according to culture’s measurements, but rather glorifying, exalting, and obeying the One we follow. Click To Tweet
But new graduates aren’t often encouraged to think about life purpose. We weigh our career or college choices on the scale of preferences and finances—not on how we can most effectively fulfill our commission. We’re encouraged to fulfill our dreams, but not challenged to fulfill the purpose of God’s heart. The support and encouragement we receive and our own mindsets and decisions often take on the tinge of a secular worldview as we focus on external plans and accomplishments instead of our greater role in God’s worldwide story.
In doing so, we miss a critical window of opportunity—the chance to build our lives around the central focus of God’s glory from the very beginning of our adulthood. To move into the future with a God-centered, heavenly-focused, commission-driven perspective. In wrestling with the uncertainty of the future, grads don’t simply need encouragement or guidance in college or career choices. We need a challenge to leverage our lives for the glory of God and the gospel.
Leverage Your Life for God’s Glory
Every graduate is standing at the place where numerous paths converge—talents, passions, and resources in hand. At that crossroads, we have a decision to make: Take the road that promises the greatest earthly return? Or evaluate our choices with the priority of God’s kingdom?
If grads choose the path toward building God’s kingdom, does that mean we automatically abandon our career or college to go into full-time ministry or pack up their bags to move overseas? It may for some, but not necessarily for all. One of the greatest hindrances to the spread of the gospel is the belief that only missionaries or pastors hold the life purpose of glorifying God and spreading the gospel to all nations. For the rest of us, it’s just optional, right? Because we believe our life plan doesn’t hold vocational or overseas ministry, we exempt ourselves from the ultimate purpose of our God and the commission He commanded. And the spread of the gospel suffers as a result.
Whether or not vocational or overseas ministry is a part of our futures, the call to leverage our lives for the glory of God remains. The question is not necessarily “Should I go overseas?” or “Should I go into full-time ministry?” but “How can I expend this one life God has given me to serve, glorify, and exalt His name and be obedient to the commission I have been given?”
Can you imagine the global and local impact if the graduating class of 2021 decided their next steps and life plans in answer to this question? Viewing their college and career paths not merely as opportunities for promotion or accolades, but as mission fields ripe for harvest. Working hard in ministry and volunteer work to meet the physical and spiritual needs in their communities, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Considering their finances not in terms of personal gain or security, but as a resource from God to join in his work as they sacrificially give to meet needs around the globe. Forgetting and forsaking personal gain, promotion, or prestige, and instead forging ahead with this call of God foremost in their hearts.In a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, there is no higher or greater calling. This calling comes straight from the heart of God and the mouth of Christ. Click To Tweet In a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, there is no higher or greater calling. This calling comes straight from the heart of God and the mouth of Christ. We must seek God to reorient the priorities and passions of our hearts to align with the purposes of His. As Jesus explained, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
Dear grad, there’s a great big world in front of you. May your goal not be to gain this earthly, temporal world and in doing so lose your soul, but to win the world for God’s glory and to surrender your life for the sake of the gospel.
A version of this article was originally published on The Gospel Coalition.