Our generation is one that is quickly getting over working for the sake of working. Working to pay bills or to rise in the ranks of a company or to achieve some form of accolade. I believe that this generation is one that craves meaning behind almost everything it does. Whether it be the reason why we don’t indulge in certain foods any longer or choose to spend time in specific places, we base our decisions on what we believe will add value to our lives. Therefore, even one’s choice of a career must be purposeful. Actually – one’s life must be purposeful. Period.
This may not be true for everyone but it certainly is true for me and for a number of people I have had the priviledge of engaging with recently, and was the inspiration behind my first post on Purpose. For quite a chunk of my adult life (from when I first got to University), I was questioning my reason for being. I was pretty sure that God created me to provide a specific gift to this world, and that He deposited within me all the things necessary for me to share it. It took a bit of time but I believe He has finally placed me in my path of purpose, and I know He can do the same for you. As a black African woman (bAw), you may be wondering what it is you were placed on earth to do. You may be questioning how you can actually discover what that purpose is. I thought I’d share some of the thoughts and truths that led me to discover mine:
This must be the most important step in this journey, and one that never gets old even as you discover and live out your purpose. God encourages us in His word to ask and we will receive, to seek and we will find, to knock and the door will be opened for us (Mathew 7:7). Some of us struggle with this because we believe that God is all-knowing and knows that we have this question in the first place – that’s how I felt anyway. But I got so tired of just ruminating on the issue internally so I eventually prayed a specific prayer asking God to reveal my purpose to me. Doing this leads you to acknowledge that only God can guide you into your purpose and reminds you that you will be fully dependent on Him in fulfilling said purpose for the rest of your life. It also acts as a way of opening your mind to receive the answer.
- Think About What Keeps You Up at Night
I remember an old mentor of mine once saying that you will know what your purpose is because it will be a niggling feeling in the back of your mind that will not rest. It will be something that wakes you up at night. It will be that issue or idea that you just can’t seem to give up on, and that seems to follow you wherever you go. It will be your passion. Passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Your purpose is something that in essence has a hold over you. It is strong and will not be ignored.
For me, that strong sense and need to do something had to do with women and over time, with black African women and black African people in general. I could not help but be drawn to the issues that these people face. I can spend hours thinking about how to best encourage and uplift these groups of people. I can wake up in the middle of the night with a burst of inspiration or questions on how to aid them. It is constantly on my mind and has become a part of my being. So ask yourself, what idea or dream or question keeps you tossing and turning?
- Make Sure it is Impossible to Achieve
This same former mentor of mine, Andrew Adar, also highlighted the fact that your purpose will be bigger than anything you could imagine achieving on your own. It will feel and appear impossible! This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes which says, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” I’m not sure who said that but it is spot on! Your purpose must be like a mountain with you standing by it as an ant. This is because God must be the Ultimate fulfiller of your purpose. And as Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” So be encouraged when your purpose seems foolish to achieve!
- Speak to People who Know You Well
Once you have spoken to God about the issue, it helps to take the asking a step further and speak to those who know you well. You may have an idea of what you are passionate about but it is also beneficial to hear from loved ones what they think you are good at or talented in. Sometimes we may miss what our gifting is because we have limited our understanding of ourselves. It may take the words of another person to ignite the fire and open our minds to what we are capable of. Ask God to show you who to ask and He will use them as vessels to confirm or reveal His purpose over your life.
I will never forget a young lady I met during my time at university who was insistent that she could see me doing my own thing and not working for someone else for the rest of my life. Then there was my ex-boyfriend who said with conviction that he could see that God had set me aside and was going to use me to do great things for His kingdom. From there it was people telling me or confirming my suspicions that I enjoy listening to others and encouraging them to desire and be better. Or the fact that I had a heart for women and most especially those who are looked down upon or look down on themselves. Looking at the purpose that God placed on my life, I can see now that these people were mouth pieces for God in guiding me into my purpose. What have some of your friends, family and even strangers said about you and what you’re good at?
- Notice Opportunities That Come Your Way
As you try to discover what your purpose is, you will notice opportunities that have come your way in the past or that are opening up before you. You will not need to have done anything for these to present themselves but without a shadow of a doubt, you will realize that God has and is orchestrating the right breaks that will propel you further into your purpose. For me, I realized that God allowed me to attend a high school where English Language and English Literature were offered and celebrated, which is what I was drawn to and chose to study. This has helped me in sharing stories in the form of writing. He also provided my school fees on more than one occasion so that I could complete my current Diploma which will aid in fulfilling my purpose. There are many other ways He has provided and without any influence from me. Look out for these in your own life.
- It’s Not About You
One of the best ways to tell what your purpose is, is when it reaches beyond you and your little life. It seems to have a life of its own. One’s purpose does not entail just making a comfortable living for yourself or doing things that benefit only you. Just as Christ’s purpose entailed saving humanity, your purpose plays a part in this great story of restoring sinful beings to their Creator and former glory. Your purpose will touch the hearts and lives of others – maybe even people you will never meet or know about. Your purpose comes with great responsibility because it is meant to change the world one small step at a time.
These are some of the things that helped to point me in the right direction as I searched for my reason for being. I hope they have helped you to do the same if you were seeking for yours. Maybe you have other things that have led you into your purpose. Please do share with the rest of us so we can learn and grow together.