How can you live a meaningful life? What are the essential qualities you need to feel fulfilled in life?
Must you get married? Have a certain type of career? Make a certain amount of money? Or perhaps you need a certain level of popularity?
According to Scripture, none of these types of things are essential for a meaningful life. Marriage, careers, money, and even influence can all be added blessings in life from God. But none of these are needed if you desire to live a joyful life.
So here are 4 keys to a meaningful life.
- To Live a Meaningful Life, You Need a Personal Relationship With God
The primary and most important element to a meaningful life is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We need an ongoing and growing relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without connecting with God in a personal and intimate way every day of your life, you will be missing out on the joy available to you.
According to Scripture, you can be rich or you can be poor, you can hungry or you can be well fed – but without Christ you will not have a meaningful life. For as Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
So the first key to a meaningful life is God. There’s no way around it. Everything starts and ends with him.
- To Live a Meaningful Life, You Need to Love and Be Loved By People
Now, if I was to stop there it would be unbiblical. Although God is our primary source of joy, God himself teaches us a scandalous truth – that we as humans also need other humans to live a meaningful life. Even when our relationship with God was untainted by sin, God himself still said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
This statement by God was not just about the relationship between a husband and wife. No, it was a bigger proclamation about the need for human community in general. God has lived within a community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for eternity, thus as we bear his image we also have a need for a community of others as well.
In short, you will not have a meaningful life if you do not receive love from others and if you do not give love to others. Yes, the first and greatest commandment is to love God, but the second is like it, “To love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Whenever God speaks of loving him he almost always reminds us that we must also love his people.
1 Corinthians 12:26-27 explains how God has made Christians individual beings who are connected to the whole, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
So to live a meaningful life, you don’t need to be married, but you do need a community of people that you can love and who love you too. The church needs God, but the church also needs each other.
- To Live a Meaningful Life, You Need to Know Your Purpose
Meaning and purpose are very similar words. But to me “meaning” has more to do with our personal feelings and “purpose” has more to do with the designer’s intent. In other words, you will not feel like you are living a meaningful life unless you live your life with the specific purpose that God designed you to have.
So what is our purpose as humans? Why did God create us? Well in one sense you could answer this question countless ways. For some people they might feel like their purpose in life is to watch TV, to have sex, to make a lot of money, or to get as many social media followers as possible. For others their they might feel like their purpose is more positive. They might think they were put on earth to love people, serve people, invent cures to diseases, or even spread the gospel.
But what does the Bible say? Why did God really create us? What is our ultimate purpose? According to Scripture, we really do have one ultimate purpose, and our purpose is to glorify God. God created us to glorify him. For as Isaiah 43:7, “. . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” This is why in 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So if you do not link your ultimate purpose with everything you do, you will not feel like you are living a meaningful life. You could invent a cure for cancer, but if you do it for the money you won’t be happy. Or you could be a stay at home mom folding laundry and wiping sticky faces all day, and if you do it for the glory of God you will feel like you are living an immensely meaningful life.
- To Live a Meaningful Life, You Need Personal Passion Projects that Serve People and Glorify God
Here we culminate everything we discussed into personal expressions. The above three points are true of every human ever created. Without God, without people, and without purpose, you will not live a meaningful life.
While God has created all people the same in some senses, he has also created each of us uniquely different as well. In other words, the way we love God, the way we interact with people, and the way we accomplish our purpose to glorify God should be uniquely expressed through our individual, God-given personalities.
With that said, I believe all humans need individual passion projects that they use to serve people and glorify God. Some people can get paid for these passion projects, but you don’t need this to be your career. Every human needs a way to express their gifting in ways that they personally enjoy because that’s how God created them. For example, in Romans 12:4-6 Paul teaches:
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . . .”
Paul had the gift of teaching and preaching the gospel. This is why he said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Likewise, we will all say “woe is me” if we do not have individual passion projects that tap into our unique gifts.
These passion projects need three elements: They need to be enjoyable to you, they need to be helpful to other people, and they need to be done for the glory of God. So if you want to live a meaningful life, you must always have passion projects going on in your life.