When I graduated high school 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 there is something crucially more important than my life plan: my life’s purpose.
Are We Missing the Purpose?
Do you ever wonder if we’re missing the point? In the midst of making plans, applying to prospective colleges, and setting out on desired career paths, are we unintentionally overlooking the purpose of our lives?
Are we unintentionally overlooking the purpose of our lives?
Culture understands purpose mainly through the lens of external success. Your purpose is packaged within a university, degree, career, 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. Scripture offers us a life purpose far beyond the transient things of this world: to enjoy and exalt God in all of his glory and to spread his glory among all people and nations. This isn’t a purpose we select for ourselves, but it’s one we either accept or reject from God’s hand.
Pursuing Eternal Success
Instead of emphasizing earthly success, Christ calls us to focus on the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:20). Instead of guiding us to greater ease and comfort, Jesus challenges us to shoulder our cross and follow him (Luke 9:58). Jesus commissions us, instead of promoting our names, to go out and proclaim his (Mark 16:15). Life purpose for the follower of Christ has little to do with external success; instead, glorifying, exalting, and obeying the One we follow becomes our goal and the true measure of eternal success.
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 financial gain—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. Our 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. We should 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 his 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?
Every graduate is standing at the place where numerous paths converge—talents, passions, and resources in hand.
If grads choose to invest in God’s kingdom, does that mean we automatically abandon our original plans in order to go into full-time ministry or pack up our bags to move overseas? It may for some, but not for all.
One of the greatest hindrances to the spread of the gospel is the belief that only missionaries or pastors are called to glorify God and share the gospel in all nations. If we believe that, we exempt ourselves from the ultimate purpose of God and the commission he commanded. We miss out on the blessing of spreading the gospel if we disobey and disregard our commission.
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 all graduates should ask themselves 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 and exalt his name and to be obedient to the commission I’ve been given?
Purposeful Graduates Will Change the World
Can you imagine the global and local effect if the graduates of 2021 decided their next steps and life plans by answering this question? See your college and career paths not merely as opportunities for promotion or accolades but as mission fields ripe for harvest. Work hard in ministry and voluntarism to meet the physical and spiritual needs in your communities, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Consider your finances not as personal gain or security, but as a resource from God to meet needs around the globe.
In a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, we must ask God to reorient the priorities and passions of our hearts to align with the purposes of his. As Jesus said:
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? (Matt. 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 eternal glory and to surrender your life for the sake of the gospel.