Joshua, Moses Jeremiah, Solomon, Paul, and Timothy are six characters we know from the scriptures. Of course, all the heroes from the Bible were called by God to something. We can learn from all their examples. I have highlighted these six because there are clear lessons you can emulate for finding your purpose.
After Moses, the servant of the Lord, died, God chose a new leader for people of Israel. He called Joshua to lead them. Moses previously had been the spokesman for God, but God commanded Joshua to follow the law that Moses had written down. “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:7 NKJV.
Joshua prospered and accomplished God’s purpose by following the Book of the Law, the only Bible available to him. Likewise, we accomplish God’s purpose for us by following the truth he has already revealed through the law, the prophets, the gospels, and the rest of his word. Anything agreeing with the scriptures is truth and anything contrary to the revealed truth is not from God.
Finding your purpose from God begins with the scriptures. If you want to know and follow God’s will, you do well, like the Bereans, to search the scriptures daily and make sure that the things you think you know are true.
But even Moses didn’t start out by writing the Bible. First, he had to learn to trust God to do what he said. You probably know the story. Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites. Moses was born an Israelite but adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Israelites. He killed the Egyptian and fled Egypt to avoid the consequences.
After he fled Egypt, Moses married a Midianite girl and was tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He saw a bush that was on fire, but the bush didn’t burn. God spoke to him from the burning bush. God told him to go back to Egypt. God was going to use Moses to free the Israelite slaves.
Instead of responding with, “Yes, sir!” and taking off toward Egypt, Moses thought it would be a good idea to argue with God. He made all the excuses he could to tell God why his plan wouldn’t work. “I’m the wrong guy.” “The Israelites won’t believe that I talked to God.” “I am not an eloquent speaker.” “There’s has to be someone else you could send.” Moses just couldn’t believe that God would use him. The purpose to which God called him was simply impossible.
God finally got angry at Moses. When God calls you, don’t make him mad. Remember who he is and what he does. Jesus told his disciples, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27 NKJV. Does finding your purpose seem impossible? Trust him and let him stretch your faith.
When God called Jeremiah, he specifically told him, “’Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD.” – Jeremiah 1:8 NKJV. Years later, Jeremiah must have forgotten this caveat. He caught flack for the “doom and gloom” he prophesied. Finally, he had an idea. “What if I just don’t tell them what the Lord is telling me?” However, this didn’t work. He tells the story, “Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.” – Jeremiah 20:9 NKJV.
If God calls you to do something and it becomes hard, don’t think that you can just ignore finding your purpose. God is not going to let you off the hook that easily. When you decide to tell God, “Nope!” be ready for your bones to combust! God will not give you peace until you decide to obey him. You might as well just do it.
When God called Solomon, he did so in a dream. God asked Solomon, “What shall I give you?” Essentially, God handed Solomon a blank check and said, “Fill in the amount.” Solomon knew God had called him to be king in the place of his father David and God was offering him whatever he wanted.
However, Solomon knew that God wasn’t a fairy godmother or a genie from Aladdin’s lamp. He knew to be careful and not ask for material things. What he asked for was wisdom and knowledge so that he could lead the people well.
This pleased God. So, in addition to making Solomon a wise leader of the people, he also gave him the things he could have asked for and didn’t. He gave him riches, peace from all his enemies, and a long, prosperous life.
Similarly, when God calls you, he isn’t calling you to the material things of this world. God knows you need the material things of this world to fulfill your calling, but that is not to what you are called. God calls you to help his people. You may have a purpose of working with machines, constructing buildings, or baking cakes. But God isn’t concerned with machines, buildings, or cakes. He cares about the people whose life is made easier by the machines. He wants the people to have a building in which to live and work. His desire is to satisfy the people with cakes and other delicious things to eat.
Whatever God calls you to do, finding your purpose will ultimately serve people. You may make money doing it, but don’t think God has called you to make money. He is calling you to serve people, so always be mindful of how to serve others well.
God didn’t only call people in the Old Testament, he called them in the New Testament too. And he still is calling people today. I believe he has called us all. If you want to know more about why I believe this, see my article on finding your purpose here: Growing on Purpose: Spiritual Growth through God-given Pursuits.
Consider Paul’s purpose. God called Paul through Ananias. The 9th chapter of Acts tells the story. God gives this word to Ananias, who was a little fearful, concerning Paul, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’” – Acts 9:15-16 NKJV.
God called Paul to suffer for the sake of the gospel. The persecutor became the persecuted. But through it all, Paul learned to be content despite the hardships. While he languished in a Roman prison, he wrote this, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4 NKJV.
How does someone have such a disposition while going through difficulty? Paul knew his suffering was only for a short while. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV.
In the same way, finding your purpose has eternal consequences. It won’t just affect this world. Your purpose will affect people for eternity. Everything done in this world will someday be a distant memory except for that with eternal ramifications. We must consider whether we are hearing God correctly if he calls us to a temporal pursuit.
Our final study of biblical characters is of Timothy, Paul’s protégé. His call to purpose came through the imparting of spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands. We read of his call in Paul’s first letter to him. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” – 1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV. Paul also refers to this, what I believe is the same incident, in Timothy’s second letter. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV.
On Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Silas came to Lystra and Derbe. There they found Timothy and it was revealed to them his future significance. Paul and Silas gathered the elders of the church and laid their hands on Timothy and prophesied over him. The Holy Spirit fell upon him and a spiritual gift was imparted to the young man. He became a proclaimer of the gospel and a companion of Paul.
Just as Timothy received a spiritual gift, we are told that spiritual gifts are normal and all believers are given these abilities and gifts. Paul tells us this, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” – 1 Corinthians 7:7 NKJV.
Peter also tells us that we each have a spiritual gift. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – 1 Peter 4:10 NKJV. Your purpose, your calling, is given to each in accordance with the gift you have received from God. Finding your purpose by discovering your spiritual gift is the way you are to minister to the body of Christ, his church.
Finding Your Purpose
Our calling, our purpose, our ministry, is something that all Christians have. Just like Joshua, we will come to know our purpose as we read and meditate on the scriptures. In the same way as Moses, our purpose will take faith. Like Jeremiah, God will make us uncomfortable until we step out to fulfill our purpose. Just as Solomon, our purpose will be for people, not things. In the same manner as Paul, our true purpose will have significance beyond this life, and like Timothy, God has gifted us with the abilities we need to live out our purpose.
Jesus has told us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 NKJV. Let me encourage you to ask God to reveal his purpose to you. And when he does, resolve to yield to his will and walk according to the purpose that he gives you.
To study this topic more deeply, refer to my book, Time for Every Purpose.