We would all be wise to develop a Written Life Purpose Statement. And you can change it from time to time. For example, I decided to change my Written Life Purpose Statement on February 1, 1986.
All of my adult life I have been tormented by migraine headaches. After trying every conceivable modern and medieval remedy, I discovered I am allergic to everything I put into my mouth—literally. I have never been tested for anything to which I am not allergic—except the glycerin in which they mix the allergens. Over several years I eliminated certain foods from my diet and measured the intake of others and, on a trial-and-error basis, have been able to reduce these daily migraines to a few headaches a week, which are manageable with medication.
The passage of Scripture that helped me survive those many years of tearful, agonizing pain is 1 Peter 4:1–2, without which I am quite certain I would have gone bonkers! The verses encourage, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”
The prospect that, because of the suffering I had to endure in my body, I might overcome sin and spend the rest of my earthly life for the will of God ministered to me deep inside the speechless chambers of my tortured soul. I found new depths of courage and strength to plunge forward in hope. When I began to improve after fifteen years of sometimes hopeless despair, I felt a new purpose for my life taking shape. At first it was without form, and words wouldn’t describe it. But as time passed, as I meditated on Scripture, and as I asked God to reshape in me a new purpose for my life, I was drawn repeatedly back to 1 Peter 4:1–2.
One morning, years of deep, unutterable groanings flowed spontaneously from my heart through my pen onto the title page of my Bible: I want to spend the rest of my earthly life for the will of God. I really meant it—still do.
I relate the shaping of my own Written Life Purpose Statement so you can see its simplicity, yet gain an appreciation for the often grueling price at which it is born. Crafting this Written Life Purpose Statement is the hardest kind of work, exacting and exhausting, but well worth the effort. Once settled, it is a constant reminder of why you exist. It describes in a general and overarching way what your life is all about. It points the way to the meaning and significance we all yearn for. Like a gyroscope, it will help you stand upright whenever you are knocked off balance. Like a compass, it points the way. It answers the questions, “Why do I exist?” and “What do I do with my life?”
Until every church disciples every man…
(Adapted from the Revised, Updated The Man in the Mirror)