by The Howitzer
I think my dog is part beaver. I have never seen a dog that chews on sticks like this one does. I am confident that he ingests at least five pounds of bark and or wood each week. Maybe more! My dog is a golden retriever and his name is Buddy and quite frankly I am not sure what he is doing with his life. He sleeps, he eats, and he runs around in the back yard awaiting someone to come out to play. When we picked him out of the litter as a puppy we had big plans for him but he is living a rather unimaginative lifestyle.
How does my dog have anything to do with defining a life purpose? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Many of us are living dog-like lives. No sense of direction, no sense of purpose. We may be busy but we basically are frittering our lives away with activities and have no sense of a unifying vision. We sleep, we eat, we work and hang out in the backyard waiting for something or someone to come and entertain us. We feel in our gut that there has to be something more but what?
In the personal development model that we are rolling out over at RAL, you will find in the center of the circle the words life purpose. No matter what you call it, life purpose, vision, mission statement or direction each of us needs a unifying vision that permeates each and every part of our lives. Without it we lose our way quickly.
Life purposes consist of 3 key characteristics. They are broad, they are brief and they are Biblical. Let’s talk about those three characteristics.
1) Broad– when we say that your life purpose is broad, we mean your life purpose is something big enough to give direction to the rest of your life. That’s why it is symbolically at the center of the model, it is intended to infuse the rest of the areas with meaning. Many people pick a few of their favorite areas of life and build their existence around those. For example the woman who say her life’s purpose is to “raise a family”. That sounds great unless she never has children or her family is taken away in some tragic accident. Or the man who builds his life around his work and his life purpose is to “make a living”. When he is fired at 55 or has an accident that leaves him disabled, all of a sudden we find that the purpose that was embraced is not big enough to encompass all of life or every circumstance. Four key questions that will give you some guidance here in developing a broad statement are 1) who am I? 2) where did I come from? 3) why am I here? and 4) where am I going? I know those are a bit elusive and hard to pin down but taking a philosophical approach will help you to determine a purpose statement that is broad enough.
2) Brief– you must also be able to capture your life’s direction in a simple statement that is brief enough for you to remember. Most companies have mission statements and values but who really know what it is. When I first joined my current company one of the thing you had to do in the training process was to memorize the mission and values of the company. Our company has done pretty good at keeping these in front of the troops. But as individual most of us would struggle to articulate our sense of mission and value. Be brief. Pithy. Imaginative. Memorable.
3) Biblical– unashamedly, our worldview here at RAL is a Biblical one. It is our conviction that you must base your beliefs on a truth system that has stood the test of time. The Biblical record is one that we have tremendous confidence in and are attempting daily to live out. If you have a different truth system that is fine and you may want to make sure your life purpose lines up with that system. But, it is our conviction that you need to connect to something more than just your own opinion when it comes to setting up something as important as a life mission statement.
Let me illustrate what I am talking. As I worked through the philosophical questions of who am I, where did I come from, why am I here and where am I going it seems to me that I am a created being who was formed by a creator God and I exist to serve and follow Him and someday will find my way back into His presence to serve Him forever. My life purpose statement is “I exist to Glorify God”. Do I live this out everyday? No way! Is it a noble direction for my life? You bet! Your Life Purpose Statement may develop differently than mine but make sure it is Broad, Brief and Embraces your truth system. We do not have to live an aimless, purposeless life. Dog-gone-it we can do better!