The Parable of the Sower is a story Jesus told that’s recounted in the Bible. It compares how people receive message of the gospel with planting seeds.
The sower plants seeds. Some of them fall on the path with no soil. Some fall on rocky ground with little soil and some fall on soil mixed with thorns. It’s only when the seed falls on good soil that it produces.
Jesus was using this metaphor to talk about how people will react to the message of the gospel. But it also applies when we talk about finding our soul purpose.
College can be good soil where the seeds of your promise are planted. If you cultivate the soil and nourish it with education, spirituality and practical application, you will grow into your purpose.
College can be a time where the right conditions come together to help you find value, productivity, meaning and purpose that you’ll carry with you into your next season of life.
However, there are some weeds and thorns to look out for: fear, narcissism, victim mentality, consumer culture and more are all poised to choke out the direction God has for your life.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about key questions you need to ask to make sure you’re on the right path to discovering and pursuing your God-given purpose.
Underlying each of these should be a desire to uncover your “why,” as Simon Sinek explains in Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team: “If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.”
Review these questions every three months. First, jot down your first impressions and responses for each without putting too much thought into them. The goal is to notice themes in patterns in the responses.
- Do I pray every day?
- Do I read the Bible regularly?
- Do I attend worship services?
- Do I have a community of faith I meet with regularly?
- Do I have a spiritual advisor or mentor whom I can go to with questions and for accountability, whether or not I attend a Christian college?
- Do I consistently make choices that are pleasing to God and align with my values?
The Bible says faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Spiritual disciplines give life to our beliefs. Regularly practiced, disciplines help us align with the values that will lead us to God’s purpose for our lives.
- What do other people say I’m good at?
- Do I spend time pursuing hobbies I enjoy and am passionate about on a weekly basis?
- What talents or services do I enjoy that I currently get paid for?
- What activities get me excited?
- What one thing that you enjoy personally, could also benefit you professionally?
- If you could only do one thing to earn an income what would it be?
Often we uncover our purpose through our hobbies and interests. These are things we’re naturally drawn toward doing, without promise of getting something in return. Many times, the clues to our purpose are found in what we loved to do in childhood. And finally, writer Shannon L. Alder offers a final question to consider: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid? When you finally give wings to that answer then you have found your life’s purpose.”
- Do I have clear plans and goals for my education?
- Do I have a mentor or advisor with whom I can learn from and plan goals with?
- Do I have a vision for what my life could look like in five years from now?
Education is an investment in your future. It can provide the bridge from our interests to our vocation. Your soul purpose is not your vocation but the approach you take to your vocation and life. Education presents an opportunity to expand your sphere of influence and life out your calling in the most effective way possible.
- Do I hold onto toxic relationships or situations that drain positive energy from my life?
- Do I seek out new friendships that will enrich my life? Do I cultivate existing ones?
- Who do I learn from when I’m around them?
- Who makes me happy when I’m around them?
- Who challenges me to be better?
Our lives revolve around relationships. Often our wellbeing and happiness are attached to them as well. When you ask yourself the previous questions, examine whether you set healthy boundaries on relationships to prevent yourself from unhealthy attachment.
- Do I have a morning routine that sets up my day for success?
- Do I regularly reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what I plan to do the following week?
- Do I have negative habits or addictions?
- Do I exercise regularly?
- Do I eat healthy foods?
- Do I drink enough water daily?
Just like spiritual disciplines, habits set you up for failure or success. We often look at successful people and chalk it up to luck or really hard work. But in reality, success comes as a result of micro-decisions make each day that set someone on a course for positive or negative outcomes. Habits have the power to propel you to your destiny or hold you back from it. Don’t underestimate their power.
- Do I often see myself as a victim or dwell on things that have gone wrong in my life?
- Do I believe I can be whomever I choose to be?
- If I could make one improvement that would make a big difference in my life, what would it be?
- What would my ideal life look like in 10 years from now?
- When do I feel that I’m closest to living my purpose?
No matter how well every other area of your life may be going, if you have a self-defeating mindset, you’re stuck. Regularly examine if your inner thoughts contribute to the goals you have in your life or if they’re sucking life from you.
Some people will not be able to answer many of these questions in a positive light. These are people who are not yet on track to create the life of their dreams.
Others can answer positively to several questions. These are the people who are starting to make significant progress. If this is you, keep going.
Others are well on their way to making progress toward their purpose, and they’re learning to identify obstacles that stand in the way. This is good.
If this describes you, you have begun a process that will help you grow in self-awareness and self-knowledge. Keep going. Put positive themes in motion. Seek to make changes in negatives areas and obstacles.
Think of each decision as having cumulative value. James Clear writes Atomic Habits: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
Now, what’s one thing will you do immediately to start cultivating your purpose?
Click here to download a printable spiritual plan to help you grow in your faith during your college experience.