Living a life of Purpose
It’s very easy to see work and our role at work in terms of the titles we are given. Assistant, manager, director, sales representative, support technician, supervisor, receptionist, and so on, none of which truly describes the purpose for which God made us or has called us to be.
And yet, our outlook on life and our mood is so often influenced by our role at work that we can lose that sense of purpose and the reason why God created us in the first place.
In his book 'Money and the Prosperous Soul', Stephen de Silva talks about how each of us can live our lives on one of four floors:
- Ground floor - tactical. This is where we see life as a series of day-to-day activities that have to be done. Go to work, answer the phone, beat the budget, fill in forms, make the tea, answer phone calls, do what we are told. It's easy to live on this floor, as these details demand our constant attention. But it's a floor that leads to a totally unfulfilling life and it’s where stress is often related to not being able to complete those activities.
- Second floor - strategy. This is where we see our day-to-day activities in light of our role and thus we can make choices on what those activities should be. A manager, a shop-keeper, an accountant. As mentioned at the start of this article, it's by these that we tend to be categorised and through which the course of our life is set. But again this floor does not lead to fulfillment in life and, like the ground floor, anything that stops us carrying out our role will be seen as a crisis.
- Third floor - vision. This floor is where we see where we are going in life and through it can decide on the role we should play. To do the best for the organisation, to run my own company, to be a famous engineer that invents a life saving implement. Living here is more fulfilling as it meets our needs to have the big picture, but there is still something missing. Stress comes when our vision is jeopardized or something that happens that could take it away. For some, changing career is seen as a way of escaping, in order to find something more fulfilling, but only for the cycle to repeat itself.
- Fourth floor - purpose. It’s only on this floor that we see why we are here, why we are doing what we do, and why we're going where we go. It’s only by knowing our true purpose - the reason why we're alive – what’s written inside of us in our DNA, that we find true fulfillment. On this floor crises and stress just can't take hold.
It's only with purpose that the other floors – the daily things we do, the role we play and the vision of where we are heading, make any sense. Without purpose, our lives will be stuck on floors where we won’t experience true fulfillment, and crises and stress become an everyday occurrence.
Purpose is about understanding why we were created. Some believe we were not created but are the product of evolution. The only problem with that theory is that it doesn't explain who we are. We are more than just a product of chemicals.
If I cut off my arm, then I am still ‘me’. If I lose my legs, the use of my body, even half my brain, I can still think, reason, express emotion – in fact everything that makes me, ‘me’.
The Bible tells us that we are a spirit created by God to inhabit this earthly body. It's our spirit that craves for meaning - not our bodies, which is why earthly possessions and positions can never satisfy for long. All they do is distract from the very essence of who we are.
Acts 17:28 “For in him we live and move and have our being”
The devil would rob you of your purpose and tell you that you are a nobody, a small speck of dust in the cosmos, the lowest of the low where you work. It's only in Jesus do we find our true purpose. We were created in the image of God - in the spirit of who He us. Jesus came to restore that image and to give us back our purpose. To be his companion, to continue the work of Jesus, to bring heaven on earth. When we give our lives to Him, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit come in and set up home within us.
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."
And as a result our spirit is restored.
Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
In this atmosphere, crises and stress cannot take hold. Interestingly these attributes tell us a lot about God and what He is like.
While on this earth our purpose is to bring heaven on earth until that day when God creates a new heaven and earth. If this is truly your purpose and God has set up home inside of us, then:
- Our peace should not be affected by events around us, but instead we are more likely to affect the events themselves.
- Our day to day activities, the role we play and our vision should all have meaning and be fulfilling
- People, powers, fame and position are all irrelevant but our purpose through those things is everything.
Living a life of purpose
Having said all of the above, experience tells me that it's not easy to live a life of purpose. Events can overtake us and we often struggle to know how to respond to a given situation. And that leads to a life of inaction.
If that is how you feel today, then can I suggest you take note of Paul’s message the those Christian’s living in Rome. It’s still as relevant and practical as the day Paul wrote it, and it can have a life-changing effect on both you and your work colleagues:
Romans 12: 1-2
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12: 6-21
If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Go out and live the life of purpose that God has given you! (Author: Michael Coveney
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