I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve asked yourself about what’s the purpose of life, not just any life, but your life. This is part of a series of posts, called Living With Purpose. I’m writing this in part as a case study of sorts, but really, I’m just sharing my own journey of finding out about purpose, and it’s far from over. Still there’s so much to unpack, and you might find it helpful or insightful for your own journey too. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here: Living With Purpose – Part 1 (Case Study)
Before I get into talking about being more intentional about living with purpose, I need to talk a bit about how I was definitely not living with purpose.
We need to go back in time a bit, but let me first give you a bit of context.
So I had just been working for about a year, having started work straight after graduating from university. I had just been through a process of recovering from burnout, and I would have to say that this was still in progress.
I won’t talk about my burnout now, as it’s too big a topic to explain for the purpose of context, but just know that my burnout was birthed out of a striving to live as a Christian in my own strength, with a severe lack of boundaries and an inability to say no.
This is quite important to know in my journey with purpose, and if you’ve ever experienced burnout or know that you struggle with boundaries, then you’ll probably appreciate this more.
Work was great. Everything was quite fresh, I was earning my own salary, and I was learning a lot.
I was also really comfortable.
Having been recovering from burnout, there was also this fear that I had of commitments. From flooding my life with too many commitments, I had almost shifted to the other side of the scale, avoiding many responsibilities and commitments. Connected with this, my faith was pretty lukewarm. In fact, it was around this time that I started this blog, and I even wrote about how I was a recovering lukewarm Christian.
I can’t remember exactly how I came to be aware of my lukewarm faith, and what encouraged me to choose to follow Jesus more genuinely, but I do remember this: it was because of God’s unfailing grace.
It was during this period where I was reminded of wisdom and understanding that I thought I knew but had forgotten about.
There’s something I learned through my burnout that’s been so crucial for me, even today. In fact, not understanding this was part of the reason I had gone through burnout.
I had learned that there are things that only you can do, roles and responsibilities that are unique to you, that only you can do.
My role as an engineer at work is not one of them.
But my relationship with Jesus is one of them. My own spiritual growth is unique to me.
My relationships with my family, my parents, and siblings.
Self-care. (Self-explanatory right? ;) )
So What Does That Mean Exactly?
It means that if I stop paying attention to these things, or neglect them, then they will simply start to stagnate or head downhill. Either way, they will deteriorate.
Someone else cannot become more intimate with my Savior on my behalf.
Someone else cannot grow spiritually mature on my behalf either.
My other relationships? Same thing.
So, if I choose instead to fill my time and schedule with other things, what’s going to happen to them? Deteriorate. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken recorder, but it’s true. And just like I’ve been a culprit in this, I would hazard a guess that you’ve been guilty of this too at some point.
How Does This Tie In With Purpose?
Jesus summed up all the commandments with these two:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:31)
Before we look any further at specifics and other things like work and career and so on, as a Christian, is your life centered around the greatest of commandments?
Or have we traded our main purpose for selfish dreams and desires?
Before we even talk about talents, personality, your heart’s desires, and spiritual gifts, what about your love for God?
What actually happens with this in your life?
Let’s be very practical about this. In your normal day, how much space do you allow for studying and meditating on God’s Word?
According to how you spend your time on a normal day, what portion of that is devoted to prayer and just spending time with God?
Not so long ago, I was with a few friends during our life group where we were discussing the analogy of God’s Word as our daily bread.
It came up in the discussion that when it comes to eating and having our regular meals on a daily basis, we often structure our schedule according to when typically eat. Even at work, we stop working around 12 to eat lunch. Our social life is often structured around meal times. Even if you don’t have the most regular schedule of meal times in your life, you understand the importance of it.
So what about God’s Word? Jesus reminds us that its value for us is clear:
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt 4:4)
He even said this after 40 days of fasting.
So then, how much do you structure your schedule around spending time with God’s Word?
If God’s Word is so important to you, then what have you been willing to do to make sure it really is? How much of your life reflects this? How much of your schedule reflects this?
My Silly Example
For myself, I specifically enjoy meditating on God’s Word in the morning. It’s not at all restricted to the morning, but I prefer that time. It’s quiet and the day is fresh, so there are less distractions. I have plenty of energy and focus to give in the early mornings.
It seemed that time was not always on my side though.
You see, even though I have flexible hours (this means that my starting time can change, as long as I’m within our core business hours.), I like starting work earlier if I can, or at least, not starting too late. I do appreciate that many people don’t have this luxury, but even then, as spoilt as I was, things weren’t working out so well.
I would sometimes sleep late, which meant I woke up late, which meant that I only had enough time to get ready and go to work. Of course, this also happened because I wanted to be at the office by 7am, the latest.
Now, you may be reading all this and thinking to yourself that this is so trivial.
In some ways it was. My reason for skipping my time with God’s Word that is. Looking back, it was so silly and incredibly foolish how I refused to sacrifice my 7am start for my daily bread. Sure, starting at my ideal time meant less time in traffic and more of the afternoon being freed up, but compared to living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God”, well, it’s hardly a comparison.
And that’s just my silly example. Where others in this world are risking their very lives for God’s Word, I have free access and ignore it. It’s not so much about comparison, but more about really understanding what’s right in front of me.
Do we love God with our actions as much as we love Him with our lips? We all treasure our time, so how do we spend it? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)
Stop And Think About It
How much is your time worth to you? How much is God worth to you?
So before we delve into all the seemingly more interesting aspects of our purpose, how does our most fundamental and most significant aspect of being a disciple of Jesus feature in our lives?
Because if we neglect it, then the rest is pointless. The rest won’t really make any sense, and it might be the reason why we seem so directionless while we’re asking, and even demanding at times of where and what we’re supposed to be doing.
Perhaps the most significant and most purposeful thing you can do today is spend time meditating in God’s Word.
Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
Abide in Him.
(to be continued ;) )