“You had a purpose before anyone had an opinion” – Unknown
The other day I was listening to a Podcast about finding your purpose. Like many of you, it was not my first sit-down encounter of gathering points on a topic that is readily available for the masses, yet equally difficult to really grasp and live out. Over the years I have taught on purpose, read many books on the subject, but I was pleasantly surprised on this speaker’s particular delivery and the simplicity of it.
In times past I would proclaim that many will ultimately live outside their true purpose, yet spend a lifetime seeking it out, and inevitably that would have become their purpose; simply looking for it. What a waste I felt that was, as most would I imagine. What I failed to share and understand, due to my own ignorance was the sustaining component of living out our specific callings.
You see it is one thing to fully understand why we were created, and another thing altogether to grasp the means to that end. In other words, if I fail to understand that my purpose must connect to something much larger than myself, it will ultimately die and never fulfill it’s course in my life. So it is not enough to only discover what one’s purpose is in life, but it is equally important to understand what and who that purpose will serve. Once we make that connection, our purpose begins to reproduce life in others and becomes sustainable and viable for future encounters.
Over the years it has become crystal clear that one of my purposes in life is to teach. So for years I taught in church, various topics about how to live a victorious life as a Christian. I had students that eagerly attended my classes and all was good, but quite honestly, something was missing. For years I had no idea what that was. I realize now that missing component was the lack of connection I had with most of my students. Of course a few I had great connection with and knew about their lives intimately, but somewhere along my journey it became more important to convey the content, than to understand how the message was received.
Were my students able to really connect with the words proceeding from my mouth, or were they more wowed by my illustrious words, charismatic delivery and eloquent presentation? A question I may never truly know the answer to, and perhaps it doesn’t matter to the others, but to me it does. It matters today and for the rest of my life, that my purposes in life bring life to others. Not just in words, images or ideas, but in tangible life-giving moments that touch the hearts of those that choose to listen.
When you truly think about it, what else really matters at the end of the day? To me not much does. As a teacher it is essential that my students learn, grow and apply what they have been taught. Therefore, it is important for me to connect with them in ways that authentically connect with how to apply the lessons.
Many of those lessons will stem from my own life experiences, if I dare to share them. That is where the life-giving part comes into play. So I can choose to hide behind the knowledge I have and speak from a very impersonal place, or I can become a life-giver by sharing the ugly and not so happy moments that brings an array of hope, real truth, and life to my audience. Suddenly I am no longer just a teacher, but a student as well. Open to all that I seek to give.
Never forget that living out purpose is directly tied to our choice to serve others. When we fail to see that, we miss the most essential part to sustaining it. It’s not not enough to know it, we must also live it and ultimately give it.