“When I Grow Up . . .”

Biblical Authority

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We all dream of doing something worthwhile with life. According to God’s Word, it’s possible. We just need the right priorities.

What do you want to do when you grow up? If you’re already grown up, are you doing what you wanted?

When I was a boy, I wanted to be a pilot. Why? Because my dad was a pilot, and I loved flying, and I thought it would be fun. And cool.

But I’m not a pilot. My life has taken a very different path from the one I planned.

And I’m really happy about that.

The Most Important Thing

You see, my childhood dreams had left out a very important part of the picture—the most important part, even for established adults.

The Bible tells us we have a Creator. And we have a unique purpose: we were created to fill a part of our Creator’s plan (Ephesians 2:8–10). How do we know what that part is?

Well, we start by learning about our Creator, God. And not just learning about Him, but learning to know Him (Ephesians 3:14–19). God tells us we were created to know Him, to have a relationship with Him. He created us in His image, unlike the animals (Genesis 1:26–27). We are like Him in some ways, and that allows us to have a relationship with Him, in ways animals can’t. We call the beginning of that relationship the new birth, and Jesus said it was the only way to enter God’s kingdom (John 3:1–21, 14:6).

We can find a way to use all our God-given interests and abilites to serve and glorify Him.

The more we learn about God, the more we realize that He is greater than we are—much greater. So great, in fact, that every one of us ought to worship Him; the only reasonable response to His greatness and goodness is to announce and magnify that greatness and goodness (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So the simplest way to describe our purpose for being here—the role we play in God’s plan—is that we are here to know and glorify God.

The Spice of Life

But there’s more. God has created us all different from one another; we have different abilities, different interests, different ways of thinking. We can be who we are—different from everyone else—and glorify God in the ways He has equipped us to. Some people are quiet thinkers; others are talkative doers. Some like to work with other people, and others like to work by themselves. Some like school; some don’t. Some are better at fixing things; some are better at breaking them. (I’m one of those.) The list of differences goes on forever.

We can find a way to use all the interests and abilities God has given us to serve and glorify Him. I teach in a classroom, and I like that a lot. I have a friend who owns a store, another who’s a policeman, another who’s a pastor, and, yes, I have several friends who are pilots. And all of them glorify God by doing what they do to the best of their abilities and giving God credit for their successes.

They’re doing what God designed them to do in a way that glorifies Him. They’re fulfilling their purpose.

The Joy of Fellowship

And you know what? When you do that, something else happens along the way. As you worship and serve God—as you see Him direct your steps, as you tell Him your struggles and see Him supply your needs, as you experience His mercy and grace and forgiveness every day—you become closer to Him, just as you become better friends with someone by spending lots of time together. And just as you look forward to spending time with your friend, so you begin to enjoy your fellowship with God. That joy grows day by day and year by year. It’s fun.

You know, those who reject God, who deny that He created them, can’t possibly experience that joy or sense of purpose. If you and I are just accidents, products of chance, then there is no design and no real purpose for being here. There’s no Creator to get to know, no one to worship, no one to serve. So there’s none of the kind of joy God intends us to have by knowing Him and doing what we were designed to do. That’s a shame.

I’m not a pilot. My life has taken a very different path from the one I planned. And I’m really happy about that.


Because I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have made a very good pilot—and that would be bad for me and for lots of other people. But now I can do things I am good at, that God designed me to do. I’m able to worship Him with my job every day and to see Him supplying my needs and directing my steps. It’s joyous.

“What is the chief and highest end of man?” asks one famous catechism. It answers, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Do that.

Discussion Questions . . .

  • Why is it important for us to glorify God? (See 1 Corinthians 6:19–20.)
  • What are some ways that all believers can glorify God? (See 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 and Colossians 3:17; see Exodus 35:30–36:2 for an example of how God uses different people’s gifts in His plan.)
  • What are some ways that God has gifted you? What are you good at? What are you interested in?
  • How can you use those abilities and interests to glorify God?
  • What are some ways you can get to know God better, in the form of a personal relationship?
  • Why does knowing God bring joy? (See John 15:10–11 and 16:22–24.)
  • What parts of your relationship with God bring you joy?
Dr. Dan Olinger earned his PhD in Theology from Bob Jones University and served for 19 years at BJU Press as an author and department supervisor. He is chairperson of the division of Bible at Bob Jones University and leads BJU’s Africa mission team.

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