Imagine for a second you are going on a road trip. You have decided you want to go somewhere, but you have not decided where you want to end up. You begin to pack and prepare, but soon find yourself overwhelmed with the lack of knowledge of what you’re preparing for. Now there’s confusion and doubt. What was supposed to be a joyous and fulfilling endeavor becomes a disappointment. Life without a vision and purpose can often look and feel like this. Very few of us would plan a road trip without knowing the destination, but so many of us go through life without a real idea of what the vision and purpose for our life is.
What is vision? What is purpose? According to Webster’s Dictionary, vision, as it relates to this topic, is “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom;” whereas purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists,” and “a person’s sense of resolve or determination.” Many of us have asked the question, “what is my purpose in life?” and understanding how vision impacts purpose and vice versa can help us answer this question. To put it simply, vision is the what, purpose is the how and why. Vision is concerned with ambition, whereas purpose provides a reason for being.
When we live life with a vision and purpose, it clarifies our path. In scripture there is a verse that states, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Without vision there is a lack of clear purpose. Without a clear purpose, we wander aimlessly. Wandering aimlessly without boundaries can be detrimental for our holistic well being. Vision creates boundaries that are helpful to guide you to a healthy, fulfilled purpose in life. Notice I don’t say an easy life. Life with vision and purpose does not automatically mean it is not complicated or challenging.
So how do you begin to develop these essential elements of life? Ed Mylett, a successful businessman, coach, speaker and podcast host speaks of “the need to begin with the end in mind” when developing a vision for success and life. I couldn’t help but think of when Jesus states, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Scripture is filled with ways to live an abundant life. Living eternity driven is one of those ways. For Christ followers, we have the hope of eternity and know we will be rewarded in Heaven for how we lived life on Earth. This makes keeping the end in mind so important to our daily lives and can be what gives us hope in life.
It is not enough just to have the vision, we must be active in the discipline of walking toward it. I find this quote a great reminder, “It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.” Having a vision without action defeats the purpose. The stair metaphor is also a great picture for how to move toward the vision, one step at a time. Looking at the vision can seem daunting and overwhelming. So while it is important to know where you want to end up, it can feel so distant from where you are that it leaves you feeling stuck or afraid to make any attempt toward it. This is where creating small goals and implementing them purposefully one step at a time eventually gets you up the staircase.
If you are wondering how to put this information into action practically, Dr. Josh Axe has developed these great prompts that are a helpful start.
- What does my ideal future look like in the following areas?
- What problem or burden in the world bothers, angers, or ignites me?
- Do you feel a moral imperative and responsibility to solve it?
- Think about how your moral imperative aligns with God. Does your vision connect with God’s vision for the world?
- Are you willing to make sacrifices to solve this issue?
Contemplate and journal about these prompts then develop realistic goals to reach them. You may also choose to seek wise counsel, whether with a trusted mentor, pastor, or counselor, to explore your vision and determine paths to your purpose, and of course seek the Lord in prayer and scripture. The past month I have been challenged to focus more on being eternity driven and to truly focus on living with the end in mind. I have felt more peace, purpose, hope and joy and I hope the same for you.
-Callie Gross, MA, LMFT, CTP – learn more about working with Callie here!