TD Jakes
Photo: Rance Elgin
The minister and spiritual advisor weighs in on how to find your passion—and purpose.
Living on purpose, as I define it, is to become aware that we were all created to serve some specific function in life. Some of these purposes might be lofty, attracting the accolades of the world. Some of these purposes may be down-to-earth, such as raising a child, teaching or engaging in some other activity that may not be as acknowledged by society but is still significant.

The pursuit of your life is to come into that purpose. And the waste of your life is to miss that purpose. The problem, though, for most of us is discovering what our purpose is. Here are a few mistakes we make while looking for it, ones that can distract or misdirect us.

1. The "But I Love It" Mistake
For a few years, I was involved in music. I was a choir director, and I played the piano. I noticed that when our choir got ready to sing, people got more blessed out of me introducing the song and talking about the song than they did from the song itself. Gradually I began to realize that the tail was wagging the dog. I love music to this day, and I have a fairly good understanding of music and theory and how they operate. But that's not why I'm here on earth.

Just because you admire something doesn't mean it's your purpose. Don't let yourself be distracted by something that should be a hobby. If you, like me, enjoy music, that doesn't necessarily mean you should be the one directing the song. Buy some CDs or enjoy music on your headset, just don't let it take your focus.

2. The "But That Drives Me Crazy" Mistake
Usually, when things drive us crazy, we're taught to walk away or ignore them. But sometimes it can help to take a closer look. For example, if somebody does something incorrectly, and their error drives us crazy, we shouldn't criticize the person—we should look at what our inability to tolerate their error can show us. What you cannot stand to see done badly is exactly where you ought to work. If you can't stand it when the church programs are done incorrectly or when the invitations are not sent out in time—if you want things in order—maybe you should consider working in an area of administration.

Other people might not even be bothered by these things, but your inability to put up with anything less than excellence means that you have an interest there. You need to recognize, "This is an area I have passion about."

Next: Are you substituting someone else's happiness for your own?

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