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In Pursuit of Purpose

Laura, my wife, has been undergoing a bit of metamorphosis as of late, and I’m not talking about a new diet plan, hairstyle, or clothing budget. I’m talking about purpose.

Now that Laura and I are moving into the “empty nest” phase of life, Laura has been searching for a new purpose (her words, not mine). Some of you moms reading this may know exactly what Laura is going through. (By the way, Laura gave me the thumbs up to write about this.)

Much of Laura’s life centered around raising our three kids. Getting them to school or homeschooling them. Feeding them. Clothing them. Loving them. Laura was, and is, a great mom. From sun up to sun down, she focused on our kids’ needs, discipline, and instruction.

And now? Good question, which she has been asking a lot.

In a study on business professionals, University of California Berkley professor, Morten Hansen, discovered that purpose trumps passion. His research showed that employees with high purpose and low passion outperform those with high passion and low purpose every time. Of course, as Hansen points out, high purpose and high passion are always the ideal.

Passion is important, but purpose is paramount. Note to graduation speakers: Your best message is not, “Pursue your passion!” It’s “Pursue your purpose!”

But how do you find your purpose? Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski conducts research on how people discover meaning in their work. She indicates that people wrongly believe they need to “find” their calling as though it is some magical entity waiting to be discovered. “She believes purpose isn’t discovered, it’s cultivated” (The Power of Moments, 219).

Finding purpose is like finding happiness—you discover happiness as a byproduct of living well. You discover purpose as a byproduct of cultivating a holistic life centered on Jesus Christ.

The more you search for happiness, the more unhappy you become. The more you live your life surrendered to Jesus, the more you discover happiness along the way. Likewise, the more you search for purpose, the more un-purposeful you become. The more you discover Jesus, the more He cultivates purpose in your life.

As usual, Laura is already one step ahead of me. She’s not sitting around wringing her hands in a desperate plight to discover her new purpose. She’s stepping out in faith and following Jesus, and her purpose is discovering her.

The challenge is clear. Purpose is not found in a life goal, target or objective. Purpose is cultivated in a relationship with Jesus. As you cultivate the character of Christ, you align yourself with His purposes, which don’t need to be discovered; they just need to be lived.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

No Regrets

“Would’a. Could’a. Should’a.” Have you ever found yourself saying something like, “I would have done that, but I didn’t. I could have accomplished such-and-such, but I didn’t try. I should have spent more time with my kids, but I worked too much.”

As a palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware served patients in the final weeks of their lives. In a remarkable article called “Regrets of the Dying,” she shared the five most common regrets given by the patients she served:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (“Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.”)
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. (“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.”)
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. (“Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.”)

There is a myth to improving one’s life: Spend the bulk of your time trying to fix your problems. Should you work on solving your problems? You bet. But the way to improve your life doesn’t come from primarily focusing on what’s wrong but by increasing what’s right. In fact, according to the Apostle Paul when we place the bulk of our attention on what is right, we begin to discover ways to improve what is wrong at the same time.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

If you allow the demands of the present to interfere with your hopes for the future, you are letting your thoughts be overrun with what isn’t instead of what can be. Daily pressures should never outweigh future dreams. Yes, we live in reality, and we do have responsibilities in the moment. But we can also create moments that lead to a better future.

Chip and Dan Heath put it this way, “In life, we can work so hard to get the kinks out that we forget to put the peaks in” (The Power of Moments, 258).

Perhaps one of the best ways you can work on your problems is by putting in more peaks. Stretch yourself. Be creative. Practice courage. Stay connected to Jesus and others. Create moments of elevation that help you break the old script and move beyond past patterns and habits. If you practice these things, then maybe you will discover how to live a life of no regrets.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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