In today’s episodes, we’re going to walk through the steps it takes to write a personal purpose statement. First we’ll talk about your identity in Christ and the mission every follower of Christ has. Then we’ll talk about what makes you different from anyone else God created—we’ll look at our personality types, the season of life we’re in, and the roles we fulfill. By the end of our time together, you’ll be ready to write your own purpose statement and be ready to live it out.
Listen to Self Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver on iTunes or the link below.
Quick links from the episode: (affiliate links included)
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
- Westminster Shorter Catechism
- My favorite enneagram resource: Beth McCord, Your Enneagram Coach
- The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
- Self Care for the Special-Needs Mom Facebook group
This is self care and soul care for the care giver, and I’m your host—Sandra Peoples. To us, self care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.
I’m so glad you’re kicking off a new year with me. You may be already checking off boxes as you meet the daily goals you’ve set for 2020. Or, like me, this may be the first day of the year that you’re back in the normal routine so you’re easing into cleaning up what’s left of Christmas and trying to plan healthy meals this week instead of living off the leftover cookies.
At the beginning of a new year, I like to review something I wrote years ago that guides my decisions and projects. It’s my personal purpose statement. In today’s episodes, we’re going to walk through the steps it takes to write your own purpose statement. First we’ll talk about your identity in Christ, then the mission every follower of Christ has. Then we’ll talk about what makes you different from anyone else God created—we’ll look at our personality types, the season of life we’re in, and the roles we fulfill. By the end of our time together, you’ll be ready to write your own purpose statement and be ready to live it out.
Did you know there was a time Eve didn’t have a name? In Genesis 2, God created her (woman, ishshahin Hebrew) from man (ish). The man is called Adam in verse 2:20, but Eve didn’t receive her name until after the fall, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).
First, we learn who she is (woman created by God), then we learn what she does (mothers all living). It is also wise for us to start with who we are before we talk about what we do.
From Adam and Eve, we are all born at the time and place God planned for us, for the purpose of finding Him. “And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us …” (Acts 17:26-27).
Since we are living after the time of Christ, “finding Him” means we find God in Christ. We are drawn to the redemption story of Christ’s sinless life, brutal death on a cross, and miraculous defeat of death and sin at His resurrection.
We are convicted by our own sins and confess our need for a Savior. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 5:8 and 6:4).
Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, we are a new creation: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
What does that mean for our identity?
Knowing who you are in Christ is the first step in better self-care. You care for yourself better when you can rest in who you are. You can live out your new purpose knowing you don’t have to earn anything. He has lavished love, forgiveness, and grace on you. You don’t have to pay Him back or beg for more. You simply live out of your identity as a new creation, justified and adopted through your relationship with Christ. Rest in that love. Know that every step you take from here doesn’t add to God’s love for you. You honor Him when you live out your purpose, but His love for you never changes.
After setting our foundation on our identity in Christ, let’s look at the mission God gives us.
Rick Warren wrote in his very popular book Purpose Driven Life, “You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
As the Westminster Catechism states: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This mission is for every day of your life, no matter what season or situation you are in. It doesn’t even stop with your death. Forever means for eternity. When you complete your ministry on earth, you continue this mission in heaven.
You glorify God by doing what He calls you to do: loving Him and loving others.
What this looks like in your life will be different from how it looks in my life because although we have the same purpose, we have different gifts, skills, situations, backgrounds, families, churches, neighborhoods, and jobs. But although we have different life skill and situations, it’s important that we understand our common life purpose never changes, regardless of our unique circumstances. My family learned this first-hand on November 16th, 2010. Every dream and goal I had planned had to be adjusted the day we got our son James’s autism diagnosis.
No matter what I thought my calling was when I was five, or fifteen, or twenty-five—the calling that overshadows almost every other goal I had is being James’s mom. But this wasn’t a mistake. This didn’t surprise God. When He created me with a set of gifts and passions, He did so knowing I would be James’s mom. That means I can still achieve every purpose He has for me within the constraints of my daily life.
Psalm 16:6 says, “The lines have fallen in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Those lines set the boundaries of what I’m able to do and they are pleasant. They are for my good and my family’s good. Instead of feeling hedged in by this, I feel freedom. I am free to do what I’m called and gifted to do because I don’t have to do everything! I just do what’s within my boundaries. I love God and love others from that place of safety and freedom.
After setting the foundation by knowing our identity is in Christ and realizing He gives us a mission to fulfill, let’s get more specific with how we are to live out that mission. First we’ll look at our different personality types. There is beauty in the diverse way God created us. Knowing ourselves better will help us fulfill our purpose and bring glory to Him.
I like personality profiles. I’m an INTJ, Enneagram 1, and a C (on the DiSC scale), so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I like labels and boxes and people who have labels and fit into boxes.
Our diversity reflects the creativity of God, not just in how we look, but how we think, feel, learn, communicate, and use our gifts. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” (Psalm 139:13-14).
When we get to know ourselves and learn to appreciate God’s creativity in our personalities, we can better live out our purpose. Not only do we stop being hard on ourselves for personality traits God gave us for a purpose, we can also give more grace to others when they act according to their personalities (and not our own expectations).
Of course, the complexity of your personality can’t totally be described by numbers or letter combinations. But it’s a great place to start. Other qualities important to know about yourself include your spiritual giftedness, your birth order, and your life experiences. Even your favorite Bible verses, books, songs, and movies tell you about yourself. God uses all of these qualities together to make you who you are and they equip you to live out your purpose and mission.
As you work toward writing your personal purpose statement, Get to know yourself better. Thank God for the unique way He created you and ask Him to help this process of self-reflection. Answer these questions:
- What are my strengths and weaknesses? What’s my personality type?
- What are my passions? What could I talk about for hours?
- What are my favorite Bible verses? Which biblical characters do I relate to most?
- What characteristics best describe me? How would my best friend describe me?
- What experience has God brought me through that He wants to use to encourage others?
The next step to moving from your overarching mission to your unique purpose is to understand your season and roles.
This idea of living in your season applies to everyone, but it’s been especially important for me to remember. My son James (who is 12) is more like a typical two-year-old. So my season of life is more like that of a toddler mom than a mom of a preteen. When we visit someone’s house, I can’t send him in the backyard alone to play. I always have to watch him, making sure he’s safe.
I’ve learned that seasons are just seasons, even when those seasons feel long. The key is to find hope no matter what season you’re in. How do you live best in the season you are in?
Accept it. As we talked about before, God has specific callings on your life and He knows your resources and limitations. You are in this season because He intends for you to be in this season. I know this isn’t always easy, especially in times of suffering or struggling. But as you look back on other times you’ve gone through hard seasons, you can see how God blessed you through them. That’s why “Remember what the Lord has done” is repeated so many times in Scripture. When you don’t see how it’s going to work out in your current circumstance, remember what He has done in the past.
Remember you are still living out your mission and purpose. Even though my seasons have changed slower than most, they have changed. When James was home all the time, my purpose was to keep him safe and help him develop. I didn’t have much purpose outside of my home. Now that he’s in school, my purpose has evolved. I still keep him safe and help him develop, but I now have time to fulfill another purpose—encouraging other special-needs parents.
Lysa TerKeurst reminds us in The Best Yes, “Like a tree, a woman can’t carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she’ll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.” No matter what season you’re in, trust that God will fulfill His purpose for you in that season.
Let’s look finally to the roles you fulfill. God uses your season, and He also uses your roles. Some of your roles are big in this current season. Being a mom to toddlers is different from being a mom to college students. But we need to remember our roles aren’t in competition. Instead they can complement each other.
Earlier we said who you are fuels what you do. That’s especially clear when we talk about roles. You are a mom, so you make lunch, fold laundry, and act as chauffeur. You are a sister, so you text to check in, send birthday cards, and bring apple pie for Thanksgiving. You’re a church member, so you use your gifts to build up the church, encourage others to grow in godliness, and show up consistently for corporate worship. Your roles are gifts from God through which you can draw other people into a relationship with Him. Second Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing …” No matter what role you are fulfilling at that moment, you are attracting people to the God who loves you and loves them.
Before you write out your mission statement, List your roles. Even the little ones. Anything that takes your time in an average week, write it down. Here’s my list:
- wife (specifically a pastor’s wife)
- mom (specifically a special-needs mom, currently mom to two in public school, and when our older son is involved in plays, I’m also a theater mom)
- daughter (a role that has changed since we now live twenty minutes away from my parents)
- sister (and specifically a special-needs sibling, so I care for my sister with Down syndrome when my parents travel or need a night to themselves)
- church member
Now we’re ready to write out a personal mission statement. Remember: Your life has a purpose. You can know that purpose and live it out with joy and honor God by fulfilling His purpose for you.
Why is it important to know your purpose? So you know when to say yes and when to say no. Saying yes is easy when you know it’s part of God’s plan for your life. You first filter it through your mission—to love God and bring glory to Him. Then you think about your personality, strengths, and experiences. Then you live it out through the season you’re in and the roles you have.
You can say no to anything that doesn’t align with your purpose. When an opportunity comes my way, I ask myself if it aligns with my purpose. If not, I say no.
Here’s my current work/ministry-related purpose statement.
I give praise to God for what He’s done in my life and how He is using me to accomplish the purposes He has for me. I am a disciple, a mentor/teacher, a connector, and a community builder. As I grow in godliness, I encourage others to grow as well. I seek to build a community of faith for special-needs parents so they know they are never alone. I build community both through my writing and through my church.
As you pray about your purpose and passions, remember God equipped you to fulfill His purposes for you. You live out your purpose by living the life He has called you to live. Hebrews 13:20-21 says “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” God equips you so you can do His will! When we abide in Him, our purpose frees us.
Are you ready to write your own purpose statement? Take everything you’ve learned about your identity, your mission, your personality, your season, and your roles. Take your time and when you’re finished, share it with those close to you who can give good feedback. We’ll be talking about it in my self care for the special-needs mom Facebook group, so join me there!
Let me pray for you as you take these steps toward writing a purpose statement: God, thank You for creating each one of us with the purpose of bringing glory to You. Your love is consistent through our changing seasons and roles. Help my friends to take time to pray about what your specific purpose is for them at this time in their lives. Living out our purpose helps us remember to do what you have called and equipped us to do and to say no to the rest. That is especially important for those of us who are caregivers. We look to Christ as our example, as He perfectly lived out the purpose for His life on earth. It’s in His name we pray, amen.
Over on sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast you can check out a transcript of the show and see the show notes. All the questions we answered today are listed there, and you can read my purpose statement if it would help you have an example.
I have helpful episodes planned for 2020 that will help you streamline your life and find joy in your circumstances. So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss them! Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. It’s important for us to take care of ourselves so we can care for the loved ones God has entrusted to us.