Can Purpose Keep You Alive?
Article by Neil Si-Jia Zhang
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We all know people infused with an extraordinary amount of purpose and energy. Some days, it seems like nothing can get in their way. Many of us have also known people who seem to have lost the will to live. Research suggests that having a clear purpose in life is a predictor of longevity. Pastors can help parishioners make sense of life through hard times. They can help those who seem to be wandering through life or who have little will to live to lead a life of meaning and purpose.

“In recent years, studies have suggested that having a sense of purpose helps you to live a longer and healthier life.”

-Neil Si-Jia Zhang

What to Consider

  • How has your experience affirmed or contradicted this research?
  • How can you help people of different ages find purpose in age-appropriate ways?
  • What stories in your community illustrate the purpose of your congregation?

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Invite members to share the creative ways they have found to pass on their purpose in life to the children in their lives.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Share a few spiritual disciplines that help one to “run in such a way as to get the prize” (v. 24, NRSV). Invite members to take part in a spiritual disciplines small group that explores different methods of prayer and reading scripture.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

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By | 2017-01-15T03:53:47+00:00 May 20th, 2016|Purpose, Research|8 Comments

About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.


  1. Weabz May 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I’d say, Purpose can help, but ultimately the only thing sustaining one’ life is the Lord’s grace, because no matter how healthy or active or mentally and Spiritually healthy we are, end of the day it’s out of our hands.

  2. AustinF May 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Totally agree that purpose is key to life. But as pastors/preachers/disciple-makers we need to make sure we aren’t just proposing that the Church has ANY purpose. Rather, encourage the biblical purpose: glorify God by making disciples through His Word. People can find purpose in almost anything, but believers have an eternal purpose to adhere to.

  3. aidenkang May 21, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    What’s the purpose of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

    • JarrodCraw May 23, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      Man’s chief end, but not his only. I think that we can help people to reflect on things like having a clear purpose and helping them connect this purpose to how it applies in other areas: how do you glorify God in the workplace, for instance. Honing in on this purpose apparently warrants us life benefits, but I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised since, as you point out, the purpose is to do this FOREVER.

  4. August 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I would be curious to see how people who have a strong sense of purpose but religious affiliation experience aging versus those with a strong sense of purpose and religious affiliation.

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