Life’s Tough Questions: What is my purpose?

This is the third in my series, “Answering Life’s Tough Questions.”
Explore other questions:

Is life worth living?
What is the meaning of life?
What is my purpose?
Does love exist?
Is there a god?
Why do terrible things happen?
Is there an afterlife?


What is my purpose?

This question can’t be answered as directly as you might desire. It’s difficult to simply deposit an individual answer to the heady premise of overall purpose.

Instead, you will have to pin-point moments in your life to figure it out.

To help extract your purpose, let us briefly examine the life of somebody else: Iceberg Slim, a cold, heartless pimp that ran his business for a little more than twenty years in New York City during the mid-30s in through the 60s.

“A pimp is really a whore who has reversed the game on whores,” 
 
–Iceberg Slim

In the preface to “Pimp: The Story of My Life,” Slim is apologetic, saying, “Perhaps my remorse for my ghastly life will diminish to the degree that within this one book I have been allowed to purge myself. Perhaps one day I can win respect as a constructive human being.”

An examination of the man throughout the book can lead to an uncovering of his main purpose: he was not put on earth to be a pimp or to write a book about the dark underbelly of life as one — it’s clear that Slim may not have always known or understood his purpose directly (much like most of us), but he definitely understood what drove his life, and that was his eagerness to maintain respect. At the age of 42 when he retired from pimping, he walked into the next chapter of life feeling like a vermin of society carrying the baggage of remorse, disgust, and sin. What he did next was similar to what had been doing all along, he whored out his story to us, reversing the game — in turn earning our respect.

This was his purpose, this driving force defined how he existed, so much so that he kept writing books well into his old age. His eagerness to maintain respect went beyond the New York City pimp scene, but overall American society.

Did he know his purpose from the beginning? Most likely no, but it’s what steered many of his decisions.

Now, of course, it can’t be entirely certain that this was his sole purpose but it is one way to pin-point somebody’s driving force, even your own.


In order to discover our own passions, we must work backwards and unfold the milestones achieved throughout our life. Finding commonality in our behavior allows us to unearth roots that stick together, shaping something singular to your existence.

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”
-Charles Bukowski

What’s your fire? What have you suffered for in your life that helps you define your milestones? What are you willing to do over and over again, despite disappointment, negative feelings, and pain? Make a list, check it twice, because these things are likely what define your purpose.

Love writing blogs despite only 8 people ever reading them? Or raising children and loving them even when they’re little devils? Waking up early for that long run because you can’t give up? Holding out for that incredible job because you know it’s worth it?

All these fires burn hard, how well will you walk through them — or will you choose to avoid them altogether? If you choose not to struggle for something, chances are those things are not your passions, not in your House of Purpose.

Realize, Dear, you’re going to have multiple passions — several things you suffer through, but your purpose drives everything.


Allow me to get personal for the sake of clarifying the point I’m trying to make.

For me, I’ve realized my purpose is to unveil truth, unfold realities even if they’re difficult ones to face. All my life I’ve chased the truth about God, the universe, myself, facts, and knowledge. First, taking on the route of pursing a life as a missionary because I felt I had to unveil God’s truth — later, when I was totally honest with myself and knew I didn’t entirely believe the Bible, I embarked on being a journalist: the epitome of unveiling truth — after that, I was honest with myself again, acknowledging I liked a good salary more than journalism, I decided to pursue graphic design where I specialized and enjoyed creating infographics more than anything, display information with communication design is my specialty — keeping myself well aligned to unveiling facts. These days, my pursuit takes me in another direction, where I’m unveiling future truths — thinking strategically and using foresight by studying facts in the present to paint a picture of tomorrow.

I figured out my purpose by looking at the common factors that shaped my past.

And so, I encourage you think upon this, meditate, and acknowledge the milestones that you’ve fought for or have fought with you to pin-point your own purpose, because understanding that can better help you find a happiness in the decisions you make in the future.

It’s not just a matter of figuring out your purpose for the sake of figuring it out but allowing the answer to drive your decisions in order to find peace and fulfillment despite the challenges life brings us all.

If you’re struggling to define your purpose, email me at joshua@commonchapel.com and I’d be more than willing to help you get closer to the answer through a conversation.