Why the Purpose Driven Cult Doesn’t Lead to Meaningful Lives

Dr. Randy White

Somewhere in the past 40 years “Purpose” has become our god.

I suppose Rick Warren revealed this god more than he invented it in his wildly successful book, The Purpose Driven Life. Somewhere, having Purpose (yes, I’m capitalizing it on purpose, since it has taken a god-like status) became a “must have” for western culture.

Earlier this year, Facebook tycoon (and socialism advocate) Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Harvard University commencement, saying,

“Today I want to talk about purpose. But I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

One of my favorite stories is when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: ‘Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.’

Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”

Notice that he said millennials will try to find purpose instinctively. He says it in a congratulatory way to the younger generation, but I’m not convinced that this generation of college grads is anything special in this regard. They are simply carrying on the tradition of their parents. Since the 1980s, finding Purpose and following Purpose and bowing down to Purpose and sacrificing to Purpose has become, well, purposeful. Anyone who doesn’t “find their purpose” is just a loser (or so the Purpose Cult would have us believe).

Results of the Religion

When Purpose became a “must have” on the search of significance, I think it ruined the lives of millions.

Why are suicide rates higher than ever? Why is there a heroin and opioid epidemic? Why is marijuana usage considered a God-given right? Why does the Purpose-driven crowd seem so…hopeless?

I think it is past time to realize that a Purpose-driven life is unbiblical, unfruitful, and actually even harmful to your emotional and spiritual well-being.

The Purposeless Generation

Those who grew up before the “your-life-has-to-be-crazy-significant” generations of the 1980s and beyond used to get up in the morning, drink coffee, eat bacon and eggs, go to work, punch the clock, go home, watch Archie Bunker, and go to bed.

Worthless, right? What a waste, right?

Well, they also kissed their wife, played cards with their friends (they actually had some real relationships with people who met together in the very same room), played ball with their kids (in the backyard, not with the manicured Purpose-driven team with coordinated uniforms and regimented practice 3 times a week), read their Bible (and even knew what it said) and volunteered in their community.

If you asked them what their purpose was, they would have looked at you like a cow at a new gate.

They were the purposeless generations. And God bless them. They were “God and country.” They were family, friends, “mom and Apple pie.” When they retired, they went on a cruise. When they got back from their cruise, they planted a garden, grew tomatoes,  and ate them. They watched re-runs of old movies when movies were not filled with F* bombs and more four-letter words than anybody in any life actually ever uses.

The Simple Life of Every Previous Generation

Looking for Purpose? My advice is to quit. You are on a wild-goose-chase. As soon as you find your Purpose, the world will change its focus and you’ll be left with all your investment in an old scheme. Instead, make your purpose to just live life. Love God and love others. Take care of your family. And go on a picnic.

Sometimes “greatness” will come knocking on your door. If it does, be ready. But don’t live for it. Don’t sell your soul to the Purpose Driven god – the one who is an evil taskmaster driving you to always strive for more, always achieve the best, always work for excellence (that never-reachable façade).

Years ago, there were pastors that nobody ever heard of. They just faithfully preached the Word in a little country church. They did it every week and every season. They did it when there were 12 people. Once a year there might have been 100, and those 100 got the same kind of Bible teaching as the 12.

Years ago, there were homemakers. They made a home out of a house. They were always there. They kept it clean and orderly and altogether lovely (though not necessarily fancy).

Years ago, there were auto mechanics and donut makers and newspaper editors and tailors and street sweepers. They got up every morning, drank coffee, ate bacon and eggs, kissed their wives, and went to work.

And in the end, their lives were meaningful.



By |2017-08-07T20:46:40+00:00August 7th, 2017|Articles, Current Events, Devotionals|4 Comments


  1. Ron Moore August 7, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Nothing gets millennial more worked up than suggesting their way is anything but 100% correct. But looking at results of actions is worthy. Staying close to God by staying in His word is crucial. The noetic effects of sin will contribute to the problems of the world. But we can choose our actions. Sticking to Bible study vs. searching for some mystical feeling, I believe, leads to a better relationship with Him. It is my prayer that all brothers and sisters in Christ keep God first in their lives and especially in their studies. My two cents, anyway.

  2. Tyler Simpson August 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply


    I have a question, really I guess I am looking for a biblical explanation. I have been raised to believe one thing, and that one thing correlates with what I have read in your article in regard to being purpose driven. Though, through my own relationship with Christ and my own Bible study, I have come to realize that things may not be quite as strict as your article and my parents teachings make them seem.

    I will offer an explanation to my questions before I ask my question, that way you can understand my stance on the subject.

    Your stance on living a purpose driven life is pretty clear. Now, I understand your perspective and even though I am only about 30 years old, I can imagine a time when that “purpose driven life” was family and relationship focused(as you describe in your article). As part of younger generations I can most definitely see the disconnect between the family unit today and the family unit 30 years ago. I understand that we live in a time where people(even a lot of Christians) idolize concepts that they read in books, celebrities, athletes, businessmen and tech guru’s more so than they do there Biblical teachings and relationship with Jesus. I know that this can be dangerous and I do believe, reinforced through my own struggles over the years that desiring a relationship with God is more beneficial than anything else we can do with our lives.


    With all that said, Jesus preached that we should have DESIRE in our lives. Jesus MOST DEFINITELY lived with a purpose, and wanted his followers to do the same. I think that it is recognized by most Christian scholars(and maybe even the Bible) that not everyone on earth is meant to be a pastor and to lead a congregation. Even Jesus desired and felt a purpose to help those who he knew would not follow them. There are even instances of him reaching out to sinners(as we all are) simply to lend a helping hand, not to necessarily preach or attempt some sort of conversion to Christianity.

    I do understand that a desire for Christ should dominate all other desires, and that there are many(maybe even most) desires that can result in sin, but I do not think that anywhere in the Bible does it state that we should cast out ALL desires. I do not believe that we are meant to live this life simply waiting to die while forming a relationship with Christ and that that was God’s original intention for us.

    My wife and I own a business, we have been very blessed by God and after years of praying he answered our prayers and set us on a path that we never imagined possible. We do very well for ourselves and our financial gains will increase ten fold over the next few years. We actively work with families and coach them to live a debt free lifestyle, we reconnect families with traditional family values, not what you see on TV, and we give families the ability to be full time stay at home parents so that they can be the primary influence in each other and there kids lives instead of having a babysitter and Netflix raising there children for them. Many of the organizations we work with have strong Christian foundations. We work with people who are not afraid to stand in front of hundreds and even thousands and confess there love to God and give all glory to Him.

    I desire the work we do, and I feel like it’s a purpose that has been gifted to my wife and I from God in an attempt to help maintain his values. I do not believe that I was meant to be a pastor or to lead a congregation, but I have seen people by the truck load turn there life over to God through the association of the gentlemen that we work with. I also believe that God is the only one who deserves any credit for these accomplishments, we are only used as a vessel to bring people closer to him, as many people in many situations are.

    My question….does my deep, burning desire to continue this work go against God’s plan for his children? Do you have a Biblical explanation to support your side or that denounces mine?

    Tyler Simpson

  3. susanhammack August 22, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

    When I used to watch Christian TV I always felt pressured to find my calling, seek God’s will for my life, and find my purpose, like I had to act on the dream I had as a young teenage to open an orphanage in Africa, or be a Christian author, missionary, and inspirational/ motivational speaker or something. Even listening to talks on marriage was often annoying because they make it sound like if you have a Godly marriage it’s going to so dynamic all the time, rather than emphasizing the simplicity of commitment and art of sacrifice. This is why my husband I still love watching Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver, both of whom go to church.

  4. Tyler Simpson October 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    I am still awaiting some feedback from an earlier comment I attempted to publish looking for some genuine insight. Im not sure why you are only posting comments by people who agree with your article. That says a lot about the leadership within your organization.

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