by Rachel Hunka
We seek it. We stress over it. We compare it. We strive for perfection within it once we feel we’ve found it. It’s the thing that plagues us. The thing we think defines us. The thing we think will make us complete.
We can place such an emphasis on discovering one specific purpose for our lives that we miss what is happening right in front of us, which is our unique purpose for this season of life.
As Christians, our grand purpose is to live in pursuit of becoming more like Christ, making disciples while reflecting our Creator to the world around us in a way that places Jesus at the forefront and love in the center of every decision, action, and interaction.
In my experience, living with an understanding of my larger purpose as a Christian also means living with the knowledge that my day-to-day purpose will shift with seasonal life changes. In other words, we don’t have only one specific purpose in the form of an occupation or ministry calling for our lives; rather, we also have varying purposes for each new season of life.
And with these shifts in season and purpose often comes a great deal of pruning, or a shedding of the old seasonal purposes.
As my husband and I were verbally processing our own seasonal shifts one day, we created a periodic checkpoint for discovering purpose amidst transitions. I like words and he likes visuals, so the outcome was a Venn Diagram. This diagram has been immensely helpful.
So, here’s what you do.
Answer the following four questions. Chart them with keywords placed inside these four circles. Note commonalities and write them in the overlaps. The points of overlap lead to a place(s) of purpose in this season of life. Seek input from people you trust.
The questions are:
1. What’s my story? What makes you, YOU? What has God taken you through? What’s your life experience? Do some reflecting and write it out. If you’ve done it before, do it again. This is crucial for growth and discovering purpose.
2. What’s my burden? Where are the places of “Holy discontent” in your life? What are the things that make you emotional in a moment – feelings of joy, sadness, or anger? These are your burdens. Write them down.
3. Where do I find favor? Where are the places you walk in and immediately feel welcomed, known, and peaceful? Where do you show up and people are excited to see you and open to you? These are places of favor. Write them down.
4. Where do I have opportunity? What doors are opening? Where are you receiving invitation, maybe without even seeking it? This one can get tricky. Every good offer isn’t yours to take. Write down every opportunity.
Discover the intersections of the previous four questions. Say “yes” to what lands in the overlap and find freedom in saying “no” to opportunities meant for someone else.
I won’t pretend like filling these circles is easy. I’m a creative, so putting things in boxes feels restrictive and the idea of aspects of my life being cut out because they don’t make it into the overlap makes me want to rebel. However, this challenging pruning process can be undeniably fruitful.
For a rose bush to grow, the lower branches, no matter how full of life they appear, must be cut off. These lower branches will suck the life from the core of the plant, eventually killing it entirely. Refusing to prune the plant will change it from a budding rose bush to a tangle of dried up thorns. Neglecting the pruning process initially appears harmless because of the blooming exterior. But a gradual and inevitable death occurs because the central health of the plant is neglected as all energy goes to maintaining the outside appearance.
The gentle hands of the Gardener are never closer than when He is carefully pruning His creation. Each element removed, though painful, is purposeful.
Trust the pruning. Engage the season. Find its purpose.
And, most importantly, give yourself the freedom to accept change.
Rachel Hunka is a speaker and writer, contributing content for Stadia Church Planting and Bloom: Women in Church Planting. In her hometown of Canton, Ohio, she helped launch the ONE Center for Leadership and planted 3rd Street Community Church with her husband, Corey. Rachel is a proud girl mom and is passionate about Kingdom diversity and reconciliation. You can keep in touch with Rachel on Instagram and her website.