I sat on the Tube in a state of shock, rocking as the train catapulted through London’s underground. I just left a private party at a bookshop in Soho. The memory already burns in my head. There were literary agents—high art, London-based literary agents—asking me to tell them about my book.
And I blew it.
I fumbled over my words. I said, “It’s not, like, that polished,” and “It’s not, like, really literary or anything.” One woman mouthed good luck at me over her glass of wine. Another muttered about needing another drink and pivoted away from me. I wondered if I needed a drink myself.
As I ambled off the Tube and headed back to my hostel, I called my dad to tell him all about it. He said, “That’s what you need to expect, Rachel. That’s what being a writer is.”
I’m all about putting yourself out there. But that. Was. Rough.
I then asked myself, “Am I meant to be a writer?”
I could easily not be a writer. I could get a job at an AirBnb in Cambodia and live lavishly on $5,000 a year. I could move back with my parents, bat my eyelashes at the twenty-something guys at church, and marry a steady income. I could go to culinary school, lean into my love for cooking, and find myself roasting oyster mushrooms in the kitchen of a gastropub.
I could do any of those things. But would it go outside God’s purpose for my life? Would it be Plan B?
As someone who works in the Christian publishing industry, I know I’m not the only one who asks these kinds of questions. Many of today’s spiritual growth books focus on pursuing God’s purpose for your life. From teaching your children how to discover it, to discerning it for yourself, the array of approaches tells me one thing: everybody believes in the value of divine purpose.
But as a Christian, I believe we’re exempt from this mind-boggling quest to “find our purpose”. Because the truth is, God has already revealed His purpose for my life. And it’s the same as yours.
I realized this when I read the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It says:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
It doesn’t say that the chief end of man is to be a bestselling author. Or to be a minister. Or to be a stay-at-home mom. No, not according to 1 Corinthians 10:3:
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
To glorify God. That is your purpose and mine, too. We were created by God, for God.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” Romans 11:36
But how do we know what exactly glorifies God?
For me, I learn on a daily basis by reading His Word. The Bible is where we seek to grow in wisdom. God granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3).
Most notably, I’ve learned that we glorify God in our work ethic. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” We don’t glorify God when we are lazy. We glorify Him when we work hard.
I believe I glorify God when I strive to write well. But I also believe there are many other ways I can glorify Him. In frothing milk to make a tasty cappuccino for a customer, I glorify God. In concentrating on perfecting Suite I in G Major by Bach on my viola, I glorify God. In writing an email because my manager asked me to and I want to respect authority, I glorify God. Service, dedication, and submission are principles that put the Christ in Christian.
So is it God’s purpose for me to be a writer? Yes and no.
God doesn’t have one path for my life I need to stick to. (Unless I choose a path toward sin.) His desire is for me to show off how amazing He is. For all, that means obedience, prayer, worship, forgiveness, and fellowship. For some, it may mean using your talent to write a beautiful song. It may mean being a parent because you are responsible and nurturing. It may mean being an accountant because people can trust you.
For me, it means persevering in my dream to be a writer. Not because I would be, in some way, going against God if I pursued a different and yet equally God-glorifying career. No, not because I may bypass blessings if I change my mind. But because using my talent glorifies God. Perseverance glorifies God. Applying wisdom to life situations—maybe I’ll improve my pitch next time I meet a literary agent—glorifies God.
And if I’m glorifying God, then I am living out His purpose for my life. And you are, too.