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).