Finding Your Mission in Life
- 2003 31 May
“I want to find my mission in life,” is a desire we hear expressed often in our career counseling sessions with Christians. (Others describe it as wanting to find their “calling,” “passion” or “niche.”) At the heart of this longing is a desire to find work that uses their gifts, brings a sense of meaning and purpose, and is a part of doing God’s work on earth. Do you share this desire? Then this article is for you!
The following are some key elements in discovering your career niche, or mission within work. We have worked individually with hundreds of clients, and have found that if any of these are missing, a person will be hindered in discovering the work he or she was created to do. Foundational steps in finding your mission in life are to:
1. Develop an accurate, comprehensive “map” of your God-given design. A thorough understanding of your design is vital for determining an appropriate career path. We help our clients to create a “career map” by assessing their skills, interests, motivational pattern, values, temperament, etc. and then organize that information in a meaningful way. Then, they are able to identify both the key “puzzle pieces” of their design and the significant themes that run through their design, as well. The more you know about yourself and your design, the more effectively you can offer yourself to God to be used.
2. Gain a broad-based, accurate understanding of career options. Once you have a thorough understanding of your design, the next task is to determine work options that utilize your design. You can only choose from the options you are aware of; therefore, gaining a broad and comprehensive picture of options within the work world (“secular” and/or “Christian” career options) that utilize your gifts and interests is critical. This phase of career planning is called “career exploration.”
3. Maintain and deepen your relationship with the Lord. Jesus spoke sobering words in John 15. He instructs His followers to stay as connected to Him as a branch is to its vine, because “apart from me you can do NOTHING.” Jesus reminds us that anything we do that has merit in His eyes will flow out of our relationship with Him. We must make time to nurture that relationship through the spiritual disciplines so that we are able to discern His voice. As Thomas Kelly, the Quaker author of "A Testament of Devotion" writes, “... too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don’t hear Him asking that He might do something through them.”
4. Focus on the needs of others instead of on yourself. The majority of people --Christians included -- tend to think primarily of what they want out of work. They focus on how much money they want to make, what kind of “security” they want to gain, the status they want to achieve, the free time they want to have, etc. (While these issues are important to examine, they should not be our primary focus.) To find your mission in life, you must instead develop “need-focused thinking.” What needs in this world were YOU created to meet? In other words, in what ways does God want you to be His hands, feet and voice in this world? I Peter 4:10 tells us that “Each one, as a good manager of God’s different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God.” Our gifts are not given to us just so we can earn money, gain security and achieve status -- they were given to us so we could serve others. Finding your mission is about finding your place of service!
At its best, career planning is a very spiritual process. As career counselors working with Christians, we have the privilege of helping others to discover their God-given design and find work that gives them an opportunity to serve joyfully. We pray that you will use the resources within the Christian Career Center to find your mission so that we, as the body of Christ, may impact the world as He wills.
Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, are the directors of the Christian Career Center and Church Jobs Online. (Through these sites you can search hundreds of current job listings from churches, ministries and Christian employers, post your free or featured resume and obtain career counseling and testing to discover work that fits your God-given design.)