Five Key Components For Discovering a SoulPurpose
In order to grow and maintain a clear sense of SoulPurpose for yourself, we believe you need five particular components in your life. We’ve identified them as Connection, Fit, Service, Balance and Encouragement. The absence of some or all of these components seems to us the reason most people struggle to experience a strong sense of destiny and significance.
SoulPurpose makes a connection between God’s work and your work. What you are doing in your small corner of the universe fits neatly into God’s cosmic purposes.
Easy to say! Of course, to make it happen the first step is to understand what God is doing. Now to be sure none of us knows the mind of God, but what we do have is a Bible chock-full of examples of God at work … and Jesus as our prime model! Understanding God’s purposes, then, in the world God made is an achievable goal. And when you have consciously seen how you can work alongside God you will come to appreciate how you are participating in something of far-reaching significance.
Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, as you begin to understand and put into practice your SoulPurpose, your faith and your life will gain a real sense of direction. This can even happen if the situation you live or work in falls woefully short of your dreams. A SoulPurpose will stimulate you to make your life increasingly creative and satisfying.
Our SoulPurpose is inextricably linked to our own uniqueness. The Psalmist saw it:
“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13 (NSRV)
In making you the way you are, God has taken exceptional care. He wants you to reach your potential by using and developing the mix of temperament, gifts, talents, skills, motivations and yearnings that go to make up the person that is you. You have a unique “psychological DNA” that marks you out from every other human. As you work your way through this book you will identify the building blocks of that DNA. They are the ingredients that equip you for your life’s work. Assembled together (as they will be if you make the most of the exercises in this book) they will give you clues to how you “fit” into God’s broader purposes.
In fact, they will give you a glimpse of your destiny.
Os Guiness notes: “God normally calls us along the lines of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness…Giftedness does not stand alone in helping us discern our callings. It lines up in response to God’s call alongside other factors, such as family heritage, one’s own life opportunities, God’s guidance, and our unquestioning readiness to do what he shows.” 
So part of your journey calls for self-discovery. How am I made? How has God put me together? What situations has he placed me in?
The process of getting to know yourself is therefore incredibly important. The better you understand yourself – your unique combination of gifts, abilities, passion and personality – the better you will understand how and where you “fit”; that is, the role in which you can best use your strengths. Be clear that your “fit” is not just what you do. It is also who you are – the values you hold, the dreams you nurture, the kindness and compassion you offer, the energy and enthusiasm you harness.
Service is a given. It’s half the reason we’re here. Just as it’s why Jesus came to earth. Finding our SoulPurpose means learning to be of service to others. It means finding our significance through investing in God’s wider purposes and in the lives of other people.
(We’ve chosen to use the word “service” rather than “ministry”, because unfortunately “ministry” has been hijacked. It has come to reinforce the false idea that sacred and secular are two different parts of our lives. As a result ministry is used to refer only to certain set forms of “religious” service. Diakonia – the Greek word which is translated “ministry” – can just as easily be translated “service”. It refers to any kind of service which is motivated by the love of God. )
It’s encouraging to be where we “fit” most comfortably. But do remember that God often pushes us out beyond our comfort zone. So always be ready to see your “fit” tempered by the call to serve. This may mean that sometimes the need of a situation is so great that you won’t have any choice but to respond, even if it means venturing outside the logical boundaries of your “psychological DNA”.
That’s usually not easy. We always feel at risk when we’re doing things that don’t come naturally to us. But then, often those nervous ventures produce new levels in our growth. Learn to welcome them when you’re sure they’re the right step. But as a general principle, don’t make the mistake of wasting your life in places or tasks that just don’t suit you at all.
We are not one-sided beings. We are complex creatures. As we said above, God made us for far more than just a single task. So you need to establish a balance in your life which enables you to express your SoulPurpose not just through your “job” (whether paid or unpaid, whether at home or in an office or factory) – but also through a mixture of domestic, voluntary and church work, and in ways that include relationships, rest and recreation. In short … every aspect of your life.
Balance is needed to get all those parts into a healthy harmony. This balance will never be easy – but you’ll find in the chapters ahead helpful guidelines for achieving it. And it will never be final, either. It will always need fine-tuning. In fact, at certain definable stages in life it will need to be renegotiated.
Finally we also need to understand that living out our calling was never meant to be a solitary task. For discipleship is not a solitary word. It was designed to be lived out in solidarity with a supportive community.
This is our dream for the church – a group of committed companions who want to see each other equipped and supported as they live out their faith in the world. While in this book we won’t specifically address the issue of how we support one another, it is an assumption that permeates all of the chapters that follow. In fact, we have designed those chapters so that groups of people can read and discuss them together – as it were, fellow pilgrims on the road, helping each other discover their SoulPurpose.
Os Guinness, The Call (Nashville: Word, 1998) page 46.