Have you ever found yourself thinking that finding your purpose means you need to focus on yourself and what fulfills you? Or believing that you must earn an income with your purpose? Maybe you’ve seen people get completely burnt out by pursuing their purpose at all costs. In this episode, we’ll outline the five pitfalls of purpose and how you can avoid them. 

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In the 4th episode of our purpose series, Holly and I are chatting about the pitfalls of purpose. If you missed episode 10, be sure to go back and listen. In that episode, we talked about defining purpose, how to find your purpose, and living your purpose.

We also shared that we don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that every person has just “one thing” they are meant to do in their life and if they don’t do that thing, they are doomed. But we do believe that when we are able to use our natural gifts, our spiritual gifts, our passions, and our experiences in combination, we will likely be more fulfilled and be able to bless others at the same time.

Today we’re talking about purpose and calling, and whenever we are dealing with this issue, there are bound to be some pitfalls–some false beliefs that can trap us, and some dangers to watch out for on this journey.

Holly and I talk about 5 pitfalls of purpose and give you some tips on avoiding these.

Pitfall #1: Thinking that your purpose is all about you

  • The gospel is not about us being fulfilled, but about self-denial.
  • Finding your purpose isn’t about you experiencing an amazing life with no challenges.
  • The gospels presents a tension between taking up our cross and experiencing an abundant life. (Luke 9:23; John 10:10)
  • Our ultimate purpose is to love God, love others, and to make disciples. No matter our job or our role, this is our ultimate purpose. (Matthew 22:37)
  • In episode 11, Jenni talked about leading and loving with ALL of our being.

It comes down to the very mystery of God and the gospel: the very act of laying down your life gives you an abundant life on the other side.Click To Tweet

How to avoid this pitfall:

  • Remember that your purpose is about serving God and others; it’s not about you.

Pitfall #2: Thinking that your purpose has to be your job

  • Your purpose does not have to be something that earns you money.
  • There are times we need to have a job simply to earn an income, but it might not be our purpose or calling, and that’s okay.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the 4 things you can have in your life: hobby, job, career, and vocation.

How to avoid this pitfall:

  • Be okay with having a job that is not fully within your purpose
  • Also be okay with your purpose being something that does earn you an income
  • Talk to God about your motivations

Pitfall #3: Thinking that your purpose is related to what other people want you to do

  • Sometimes we are doing things in our life because we’ve always done them or because other people expect us to. Perhaps we are capable of doing it. But it’s not something that fills us up or that we enjoy.
  • Some of us may struggle with this more than others.
  • If you are a people-pleaser, you might end up doing things because it makes everyone else happy, but it’s not necessarily your purpose.

How to avoid this pitfall:

  • Evaluate why you are doing the things you are and whether it’s because it’s something God is asking you to do or if it’s simply because others want you to.

Pitfall #4: Burning out by not walking in your purpose

  • You might be spending your time doing a lot of things that are not within your purpose.
  • There are times that my job or business has been a tool to fulfill my purpose.
  • If the majority of what you are doing doesn’t line up with your natural gifts, passions, and skills, then you may end up burning out.
  • You may need to consider whether what you are doing is within your purpose at this time. It may have been something that made sense in the past, but now it may not be what God has for you.
  • Jill McCormick’s blog post about making the decision to walk away from a ministry role.
  • See the video below where Dr. Ivan Misner talks about working in your flame rather than in your wax.

How to avoid this pitfall:

Pitfall #5: Burning out by being so committed to your purpose but not taking care of yourself

  • This can happen when someone is so obsessed with their purpose or calling that they neglect or forsake everything else in their life.
  • Our family or the people closest to us are our first mission field and should be our top priority.
  • The command to love God and love others starts at home.
  • The pitfall of burning out due to purpose is especially relevant to people in ministry.
  • It’s easy to make excuses and letting boundaries slip because “I’m serving God.”
  • It can happen with business too, especially if you work from home.
  • Leaders set the tone for their team and organization. If the leader is not taking time to set boundaries, refill and refuel, then this is the expectation they will set for their team.

Ways to avoid this pitfall:

  • Establish boundaries for your schedule and family
  • Setting up work hours if you work from home
  • Figure out what fills you up
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit
  • Build into your team

We are not experts on this topic, but these are some of our thoughts about the pitfalls of purpose. We’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Are there other pitfalls of purpose you can think of?

You can join the conversation in our Facebook Group by adding your info below.

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5 Pitfalls of Purpose