How can I discover God's purpose for my life?

If you're nearing the end of high school, you're probably getting asked, "What will you do after graduation?" That can be an intimidating question! Are you going to college? Which one? What degree are you going to get? What are you going to do with that degree? You're NOT going to college? What are you going to do for the rest of your life? Where will you work? What will you do with your life? And then come all the "suggestions" of how to find purpose. It can be A LOT to think about at such a young age.

When I was in high school, I dreaded those questions because I didn't know what I wanted to do. If this is where you are in life, I want to share some principles that helped me on my journey to discovering God's purpose for me. (You're gonna want this Spoiler Alert: If your heart desires to glorify God, then there's NO SUCH THING as the one-and-only-right path. Even if you change your mind later, whatever path you're on is one that can be used by God to bring Him glory through your life.)

1. Seek Guidance

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." —Proverbs 1:7

While every believer's general purpose is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), He has specifically given you unique gifts, life experiences, personality traits, and strengths that can be used to glorify Him in all you do. So seeking guidance from God through prayer should be your starting point in this journey (James 1:5).

God has also given you others who care about you and can speak into your life to help you see how God has designed you (Job 12:12; Proverbs 14:8). Ask them what interests, talents, and passions they see in you, and that might give insight into what you could aim for as you move into adulthood.

2. Reflect

God has allowed both good and bad life experiences to help you grow and learn life lessons. Anything that happens to you in life can provide insights into gifts and passions that God has given you.

"...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." —Romans 5:3-5

As you reflect on these opportunities, consider questions like: Who or what made that thing enjoyable? Why was that task drudgery to you? Who are you passionate about serving/interacting with? Maybe children, teens, the elderly, or young Christians? Maybe those who are chronically sick or hospitalized? Maybe those within a specific ethnicity or cultural group? Maybe you love serving behind the scenes or with your hands? Sometimes the answers to these types of thought-provoking questions can give insight into your life purpose.

3. Interview or Intern/Apprentice

"An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge." —Proverbs 18:15

Once you've identified something you might like to pursue, see if you can interview someone in that field or ask for an internship or apprenticeship. This will help you know what the work entails, pros and cons, and can help you evaluate whether this fits the strengths, gifts, and passions God has put in your heart.

4. Don't make decisions based on what you think you "should" do or to be like everyone else.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6

Have you been feeling pressured to go to college or into missionary work because your friends are planning to do so, your parents want you to, you don't want to look like a "failure," or you don't know what else to do? It's easy to feel that way. But the truth is that the decision about where your life leads is between you and God. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing to be "acceptable." You don't automatically have to go to college to be successful. You don't have to go into organized missionary work to be a faithful Christ follower. And you don't have to stick to one "thing" for the rest of your life.

Considerations for NOT Choosing College

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" —Luke 14:28

Yes, college is sometimes necessary for certain career paths but not for all. And there are a few negative factors about a college career that are often overlooked—like financial, mental, and spiritual burdens.

Are the thousands of dollars in school debt going to pay off in the long run? Many college graduates don't actually get jobs in their degree field, making it difficult to recuperate the cost of education. Some employers do not put as much weight on a college degree and would rather see work experience on a resume or train a person for a specific job.

The atmosphere at non-Christian colleges can be hostile, if not toxic, to the Christian faith, creating a mental and spiritual burden that could have been avoided. Whether in the classroom, student body culture, or with a lack of Christian community, the spiritual burden and moral dilemmas can present unnecessary struggles. While we shouldn't be afraid of going to college and can use the time as an opportunity to shine the light of Christ, one must consider if this daily bombardment is worth the outcome.

Alternate Options for the Christ Follower

"...they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." —Isaiah 40:31

If you don't have clear direction with what you're trying to accomplish with college, wait upon the Lord to direct you to know if college is the right choice. Knowing WHY you're going to college is more important than just going. Here are some options to do as you wait on more certain direction and purpose from God.

  • Interning or apprenticing to learn a life skill or in an area of interest. You could also attend a trade or vocational school or certificate program.
  • Serving the Lord in ministry, your community, or your family (or in preparation to serve your future family). Missionary school is another option.
  • Starting a business and being an entrepreneur.
  • Taking a "gap-year" program that intentionally trains young people in-between high school and college (like Summit Ministries or Impact 360 Institute).

5. Affordable Ways to Get a College Degree

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." —Proverbs 6:6-8

There are many different programs and options that allow you to get more formal education while minimizing the cost to finances, your time commitment, mental health, etc. Choosing a non-traditional education path can help you be a good steward of the time and money that God has given you. Here are a few affordable ideas:

  • Dual Enrollment in high school or classes that give grant AP credit.
  • Test Out Options (like CLEP or DSST)
  • Online Classes (like Straighterline)
  • Portfolio/Life Experience Credit is a way to get college credit based on your life experiences.
  • Accelerated Degree Programs (like Unbound)

6. Planning for Adulthood

While it may be intimidating to think about adulthood or life outside of school, contemplating your future can help you feel more prepared. Consider all aspects of life: personal (e.g. physical, mental, emotional, etc.), relational (e.g. family, friends, dating/marriage, etc.), and spiritual (e.g. personal relationship with God, church, Christian community, service, etc.).

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." —James 3:17

Even when you're out of school, never stop learning. As you get older, most education doesn't take place in the classroom. It takes place in the real world, through experience, conflicts and challenges, through seeking out podcasts, books, conferences, videos, and more! Choose to be a lifelong learner and wisdom will always be with you (But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.).

7. In All Things, Trust God

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6

If you're seeking God's will, He will show you the next step—even if it's just one step and not the whole picture. It's OK to not have it all figured out by the time you graduate high school. God might not reveal it all at once, but He will answer.

God desires to direct you in His way (Psalm 37:23). Pray for faith to keep believing that He will answer, for attentiveness to see His answer, wisdom to understand it, and courage to obey. Meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 as you practice patience.

The journey of discovering your life's purpose is rarely a clearcut path. We're often faced with too many options or too few. Sometimes we must do things we don't enjoy so we can pay the bills or get to the next step. Sometimes life changes drastically in ways we could have never planned. And that's OK.

Thinking through these pieces can help you as you slowly uncover the purpose for which God created you. As you consider your options, situation, and circumstances, keep an eye out for the doors God opens for you. No matter what path you take or where you turn, go out there, and serve your King!

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." —Colossians 3:23-24



When you're in high school or on the edge of adulthood, it can be scary and confusing to figure out what you ought to do next. Be encouraged that God has designed you with certain gifts, life experiences, personality traits, and strengths that can be used to glorify Him—no matter which direction you choose. To help you discover your life purpose, seek guidance from God and others, reflect on past experiences, and your strengths and interests. There are lots of ways to learn more about a particular field without making a commitment or seek higher education without risking lifelong debt. No matter the twists and turns of your journey, keep trusting God. As you consider your options, situation, and circumstances, keep an eye out for the doors God opens for you. No matter what path you take or where you turn, go out there, and serve your King!

Writer: Hanna S.

Hanna loves spending time with kids and teens. She enjoys being detectives with them to investigate God's Word to discover truths to answer any questions. She is the co-author of a newly published apologetics curriculum for children and teaches one online for highschoolers-adults. To learn more about her ministry you can visit For fun, she likes to play Ultimate Frisbee, read historical fiction, and paint.

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