But I also believe each of us has a personal purpose. When we look at the great difference makers of history, we see people with a specific purpose: Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Mary, Paul—all of these people had amazing personal purposes in the plan of God.
So how can you discover your personal purpose? Let me propose a simple math equation:
Character + Skill + Setting = Purpose
The first component is your character. Are you increasing in godliness? Are you becoming more Christlike? Are you putting off the old person of sin and selfishness and increasingly pursuing holiness and service to God and others? That’s a must. If you are going to live into your personal purpose, you must be a person of character and integrity. A wise church member of ours who is now in heaven used to say, “If you work on your testimony, God will work on your ministry.” When you follow him deeply and consistently through the highs and lows, God is going to use you.
The second component is your skill set. We know that all of our skills are from God. He gives us natural gifts and abilities. He sovereignly puts us in families and schools and jobs and activities that increase and maximize certain skill sets. And he also gives us spiritual gifts for the edification of the church, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:4–7. Regardless of how skilled or talented you feel, each of us has a particular skill set that contributes to our purpose.
Don’t be too hard on yourself here. We all have something to contribute. You don’t have to be the best to make an impact or have the joy of contributing; just getting in the game in faith is what he is looking for. I’m not the best counselor, but I still try to listen and help. I much prefer to talk than listen, but God can still use me to console and encourage. I’m not the greatest author in the world, but I’m writing with the hope God will use this book in your life. We are sometimes so driven to win that we fail to even try. God has equipped you and wants to use you. The fact that you aren’t perfect or the best is to your spiritual advantage. God loves bad odds and weak vessels. Discover your gifts and put them to use.1
The final component of our purpose is our setting. Somebody who lived in Boston in the 1820s would not have the same personal purpose as someone in Tokyo in 2020 or Rome in 310. If you live in a rural area, your purpose may look different than if you live in a metropolitan area. If you are a wife and mother, your purpose will look different than a single person. None of these are better or more noble than others, but they are each unique, and each of them contributes to your personal purpose.
Our math problem could be refined to:
Godly Character + Your Gifts & Skills + Your World = Eternal Purpose
Difference makers recognize and learn they have a purpose, and they live it. One of the most amazing stories of a difference maker in the Bible comes from an unlikely hero—a woman who realized her personal purpose.
Gregg Matte, Difference Makers: How to Live a Life of Impact and Purpose (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2019).
Want to fill your church with Difference Makers? It will take more than reading one article. I’d recommend you have every group in your church study this excellent book.
We have just completed a Bible study to guide your group into meditating on and applying these truths. The Difference Makers is our Bible Study based on Greg Matte’s book Difference Makers. It consists of 8 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.