SUMMARY: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” You know Mark Twain was spot on with this quote. And as some of us know, the payoff of purposeful living is incredible. If we find and leverage our purpose, then the way we live is impacted. With purpose, we view life with a new perspective, and we handle our circumstances with different enthusiasm. Today’s Resolute Podcast gives us the framework for thinking about our purpose.
Let’s begin this series by clearly defining the pivotal word of this series – purpose. A purpose is defined as “the reason for which some action is done or something is created.” While I assume most of us already understood this, it is not the definition that alludes us but rather discovering why, how, and for what we were made. I know many men I meet often find themselves perplexed by this question and are at a loss for direction as they seek their unique purpose in this life. And this lost feeling can produce feelings of confusion, anger, and even a downward spiral of hopelessness. You know my wife and daughter often lose their car keys around our home. I am not sure if this happens in your home, but it’s going on in our home all the time. And for them, this produces feelings that often resemble the lostness of living devoid of purpose. While this is a little bit of a reach, I think it captures on a myopic level many of the same feelings. As they are frantically searching the house for their keys, I think of men I know who are frantically searching for their purpose in this life. And I often explain to my wife if she would just consistently put her keys in the same place each time she came in the door, that she would find herself less confused, angry, and hopeless at the moment she is racing out the door to the next appointment. Years ago I used to misplace my keys all the time as well. But one day I simply had enough and determined a location that I was going to set my keys every time I entered the home. And guess what they are always there. When I look for my keys, I know where they are. They are setting on my dresser next to my bed! And I mean always. And since I do this every time, I never search for them. And guess what, the accompanying feelings of confusion, anger, and hopeless have gone away only because I have purposed a pattern, behavior, and location for my keys. And I believe if we could find and determine our purpose then life would be much less frustrating. While our purpose may feel like it eludes us, like a ring of lost keys, this does not have to be the case. We can find our purpose! And we can live more purposeful lives, with much less confusion and discover the power and freedom of a life lived on purpose. But we must remember that our personal pursuit of purpose is not as simple as finding our keys. While the definition of purpose comes easy for objects (like a hammer for instance whose purpose is to drive nails into wood) or for a process (like finding our keys), a human purpose is more complex and unique to each to each person. And this will require us to ask some probing questions of ourselves. Mark Twain touches on this in his renown quote, where he says. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” You know Mark Twain was spot on. And as some of us know, the payoff of purposeful living is incredible. If we find and leverage our purpose, then the way we live is impacted. With purpose, we view life with a new perspective, we handle our circumstances with different enthusiasm, and we have a higher potential for influencing others. When we live on, and within our purpose, we become less prone to distraction and our thoughts and actions align for maximum impact. In today’s podcast, we are looking to clarify to a man’s pursuit of purpose by giving you a framework for thinking about your pursuit of purpose. I believe for some of you this framework will be revolutionary for you. For others, it might be a fresh reminder, but if we see our purpose through this framework, then our purpose will always be more clear to us. First, we must understand that purpose begins with God, and He has divine purposes. These purposes fall into something theologians call God’s sovereign will. Divine purposes are a predestined and unstoppable act of God in which there is no way it will not happen. These are what make God – The God of the universe. And we must say that God is sovereign and must allow whatever occurs to occur or He ceases to be God. Even when God passively allows things to happen, He chooses to let them in a way that He has the power and right to intervene. So even when God has “allowed” them, He has still purposed them. And while this may be disturbing to our souls, God can do and allow whatever he wants; otherwise, our definition and understanding of God are insufficient. We also know there are things that God cannot do. For example, God cannot sin. Again just because he cannot sin, this does not infer that God is not in giving oversight to the parameters of sin, but that he allows it, but sin never exceeds his divine purposes. In fact, to not digress too much here, God deals a fatal blow to the spiritual and eternal consequences of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Sin, while not initiated by God, yet has no power over our divine destiny. For Christ, following men, this means we must recognize that all-purpose comes from, by, and through God. He is after all the designer and the one who defines divine purpose. Psalm 139:13-14 is very illuminating about this. David writes here, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And God, the creator of man, will not conceal his divine purposes from his creation. By creating us, he gives purpose, because everything created has a purpose, as do you and me. God is revealing these to us, so we will be amazed, as David here is, by our Creator and how he condescends to use us. And I believe this is staggering. Second, we must also realize that God has also defined moral purpose. I believe most men who follow Christ understand this but often forget that moral purpose intersects with our purpose. Perhaps one of the greatest treatise in the Bible on moral purpose is found in the Ten Commandments. Ten moral laws were given to us for right living and relationship between God and other people. Jesus later summarizes these ten into two in the gospels giving us the Great Commandments – loving God and loving others. Much of our purpose is to strive to live under God’s divine purposes and within his moral purpose. Connecting these dots is another step to successfully constructing our framework. When we live within God’s moral purposes, we are aligning the divine with the human. At this point, the human meets with the divine. And while God does give us the freedom to live outside his moral purpose, we do not have the right to violate it when indwelled by the Spirit. God wants us to live a life of righteousness when we surrender our will to his. Note what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” God’s purpose for us is to live within His moral purposes. But remember, while we will attempt to live a moral life we will at many points fail. Here is where we lean on God’s divine purpose in, through, and by His Son – Jesus Christ. We must be careful here to clarify that the Bible never suggests that we have the power to achieve righteousness based on our morality, but rather righteousness based on Christ’s morality. In moral purpose, we live between a great tension. The tension between trusting in our moral inadequacy and striving in the power of the Spirit. Third, and finally, we discover our unique purpose. When it comes to our finding our purpose, this is where we want immediate answers. While we may want to begin here, this is not the place to begin, but this should be the place we end. Beginning here can lead to conceit and self-centeredness where were rely on our strength rather than God’s strength. Divine and moral purpose are the leading priority for the Christian man even when we feel like our unique purpose evades us. And it is alignment with these that reveals our unique purpose. I have always appreciated the way my Texas friend Lance Linnartz from Cru illustrated this to students in his college ministry. Often, he would find young men and young women felt overwhelming pressure to find the right spouse while in college. The imagery he leaned on as he counseled them was the image of a man running a marathon through life. At the start, he was running alone and focused on running with diligence toward the prize. And instead of being obsessed with running around looking for a spouse, he suggested that if far more important to be focused on running the race with Christ. And through this obedience one day he would look over and see a woman running with him. And at this moment, they may decide to run the race of Christ together with them. What a great illustration that I believe applies to not only finding a mate but finding our unique purpose. You see we run a race seeking purpose and what we are looking for is the moment God’s divine and moral purpose meet up with our unique purpose. Our unique purpose is something we often attach to our work or vocation, but it is not exclusive to this. And each of us is designed to serve in this life uniquely. To a high degree, your spiritual gifting, personal talents, and unique passion play a significant role in revealing this. But this is only discovered over time. And while we may want to rush this, we cannot. But it will get clearer or perhaps more refined as we run the race. And order here is critical using this framework. While we do find some purpose in our work and vocation, this is not who we are, but rather what we do. Our identity is found only in Jesus Christ and in His divine and moral purpose. Men who attach their identity to their unique purpose are often disappointed to discover that this is not purposeful Christian living. Jesus was explicit about this in Luke 14:26. It reads, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus here was after everything. Especially our unique purpose. And for Jews, this statement would have been the greatest sacrifice, since all their identity was wrapped up in their family. It was all they had. So, there you have it a framework for thinking through your purpose. Divine purpose, moral purpose, and unique purpose. The previous two are unchanging and our priority when living out our identity. But God has also designed us each uniquely for a purpose in this life. A contribution that you will make to this life that will uphold both of His previous two purposes. To find purpose, we must strive for alignment between these three over our lifetime.