The answer is: Yes and No. God’s general purposes for the lives of everyone stay the same. We exist to love and serve Him, to please Him and to glorify Him. We were created by Him and for Him. Bottom line: it’s all about Him, and thankfully, He is all about us. When we speak of God’s general purpose for our lives, we would say “No,” that never changes. It remains and it a constant. Our specific purpose, however becomes a part of this general purpose.
As we age, God’s specific mission or purpose for our life, I believe, changes. I can best illustrate this by using the stages of life suggested by Dr. Carl Jung. Dr. Jung suggests four stages of life. Depending upon whom else you may read, it could be three or more stages, but I like his four stages of life and I will use them here to illustrate the fact that our (specific) life’s purposes do change.
The first stage of life is “Athlete.” This is when we are children and very young adults. We are obsessed with our looks and the world pretty much (by our way of thinking) revolves around us. I prefer to call these the “formation” years when a child is born, educated and trained in the home.
If there is any service or ministry involved in this stage, it is usually encouraged or taught by the parents or other adults. God’s general purpose for our lives needs to be taught during these years also.
There appears to be the specific purposes of obeying and honoring one’s parents and learning about God during this stage. This stage is also about learning and preparing for life. This appears to be our purpose(s) at a young age: formation. Children hopefully learn about life and some life skills during this period. They receive an elemental education and begin to experience how real life operates. A part of complete formation is teaching and emulating service depending if we know the importance of service ourselves.
The second state is “Warrior.” This is when we are young adults and we are spending the majority of our time and energy in ‘making our way’ in this world. We get jobs, we may marry, we may have children, we take on a mortgage and start independent living. We are preoccupied with ‘getting’ better, ‘doing’ better, and ‘having’ better or having more, making more, wanting more. We live life at a “neck-breaking” pace. However, if we have been taught well, we know we need to be serving during this period of life.
Unless we are independently wealthy, our time, energy and money are limited. Just about all of our time and energy are spent providing for our families and ourselves and some of our time is spent in rest, relaxation and recreation. Hopefully, we see needs and respond to them in service in some manner—especially for those for whom we have a passion. In many cases, we take on individual needs of other people or we seek to be involved in civic needs. We get involved in other people’s lives. Generally speaking, our service is family-centered and there isn’t much left over for others.
However, we may teach classes at church, we may baby sit children at church, we may usher, work in security, pass communion, work in security or lead in worship in some manner. It appears that the main purposes during this time of life are related to raising Christian children who will one day be Christian adults and responsible citizens. This is our primary specific purpose at this stage of life.
The third stage of life is called “Statement.” This possibly is later mid-life when our children are leaving the nest and making lives of their own. We become grandparents and start to have some physical issues that come with age. This is a time when we begin to realize that life is not about possessions or jobs or houses or traveling or having a certain position of power. We learn that life is about ‘others.’ If you are a mature adult at this stage of life, this is how you will begin to think. Time and funds make it more likely to serve unless you are totally self-absorbed. We begin to think about making a life-statement. We think about what our (specific) life’s purpose is or why we are here.
In this stage, we want something more to show for our life other than a big house and a big retirement portfolio. We want our life to count for something. We want our life to ‘make a statement.’
This is when wise adults start to discover God’s specific purpose for their lives. I guess the statement, ‘better late than never’ applies here. Most of us don’t know where to start but common sense helps a lot with this quest. This is where you hopefully discover how God has designed you for His purpose and you start to make a ‘real’ mark for yourself. In fact, I’ve had many folks discover in their latter years ‘why’ God made them. It took that long for them to discover themselves as God saw them. You can really start to make a difference, and in some cases, you will find satisfaction and contentment.
If we have wisely invested, we have money to help others during this period of life, and because our children have left home, we have more time to serve.
And the last stage is “Spirit.” This is the time in life when we are almost physically spent. We are not able to do the things that we once did. We are possibly not only physically limited but you are also limited monetarily (you are probably on a fixed income). We may have other limitations including your ability to move (mobility issues). Our minds may not be as sharp as it once was. This, however, does not mean we are useless. Our purpose has changed again because of limitations over which we have no control.
We serve in new ways. We compensate. We pray, we send cards, we greet, we bring beans to the food pantry, we call folks, and we basically do things that don’t require lots of physical strain and stress.
Your intrinsic value never changes; you are always loved and valued by the Lord who made you. Your extrinsic value changes and you learn to serve in different unique ways. Solomon said that the old will bear fruit on their old age, and you fulfill that verse.
Other factors can affect our mission in life no matter what the stage of our life. Health issues, losses, traumatic experiences, financial setbacks, incarceration, and such things can definitely affect or totally change our life’s mission along with our ‘people’ and ‘things’ passions.
Every stage of life offers its own opportunities to serve. Every stage offers its unique purpose or mission for the individual. It just takes some common sense, some time, some prayer, some thinking, possibly a good inventory and above all else, a good knowledge of God’s Word to discover God’s purpose for you in any stage of life. Do a study of any biblical character whose whole life is laid open to us in the Bible and you will see this principle. It is worth a person’s time and effort to discover how God made him/her.
For now, just revel in the fact that there is work for you to do for Him, and do it. God will be honored, lives will be blessed and you will always know your place in His kingdom and in this world. You will have an eternal purpose with eternal affect. God bless.