THE HOLY PLAY CHALLENGE TO THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE by Kirk Byron Jones, Author of Holy Play: The Joyful Adventure of Unleashing Your Divine Purpose http://www.holyplay.com
While I acknowledge and appreciate the positive impact of The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren on millions of lives around the world, I respectfully raise serious concerns about some of Pastor Warren’s assumptions and beliefs, in order to promote deeper reflection about the role of persons in discerning and living divine purpose. First, The Purpose Driven Life teaches that God has decided a destiny for each of us. While sounding spiritually appealing, such a view effectively portrays God as a domineering parent. This is not the kind of God we see in many Bible stories. The biblical purpose narratives of Moses, Isaiah, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, have God inviting not demanding acceptance. Thus, an alternative view to Warren’s is that God wishes to inspire our choices not dictate them.
Second, Pastor Warren teaches that purpose is ultimately a done deal. God has decreed our role; our job is to decode and discover what God has already decided. Again, biblical testimonies suggest otherwise. For example, when Moses raises concerns about his perceived speaking limitations, God concedes and allows for Aaron’s involvement as lead liberation spokesperson (Exodus 4:14-16). Perceiving God as providing us afinalized purpose–take it or leave it–blinds and binds us regarding two of God’s greatest gifts to humanity: freedom and creativity. Purpose is not just something we receive from God but something we create with God.
Finally, Pastor Warren begins his book by declaring, “It’s not about you…you were born by [God’s] purpose and for [God’s] purpose.” With all due respect, purpose is about you. Good religion celebrates divinity and humanity in the same breath. Purpose is about you, your aspirations, and your choices. Why wouldn’t it be about you, a child of God created “a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor”? (Psalms 8:5) If God wanted to live your life for you, God would not have created you in the first place.
One can stand on sound biblical, theological, and spiritual ground and believe that purpose is not something we passively receive from God, but rather something we actively create with God, in a sacred adventurous spirit of deliberate intention and joyful freedom. This belief unlocks amazing new energy and openness for creating a purpose that uses all our God-given imagination and talent. It inspires persons to stop waiting for God to tell them what to do and start doing what God has been inspiring them to do all along.
Does purpose involve Godly guidance? Certainly. Just remember that whatever our purpose, God is excitedly expecting us to play our part in the last syllable of the word guidance.