“It is very important that each of us think through what meaning fulfillment has for us. The danger of not doing so is that years from now we will say: “I have climbed the ladder of success, only to discover the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall.”
– D. Quinn Mills: How to Live, How to Lead
Connie escaped a bad situation in Cincinnati and moved to Knoxville, TN to hide. She became very depressed. She told Gary, her life coach, that she was very dissatisfied with her life. She began to wonder if life was worth living.
She said, “If this is all there to life, I don’t want to go on.”
After meeting with Gary for several months, her outlook began to change.
It had been two weeks since her boss had given her a hard time about leaving early to meet with Gary, so she quit, giving a three-week notice.
Later that same day, while in Gary’s office she got a call from her boyfriend in Cincinnati, telling her the company she had worked for wanted her to come back as head of a special training department.
After the excitement wore off, she began to think, “Do I really want to go back to the same company doing basically the same thing? What is my purpose? Why am I on this planet? What did God design me to do?”
As she sat in the shop waiting for customers her boss came in carrying a basket of fruit and goodies.
“A peace offering,” she said handing it to Connie. “Please don’t leave. You have done such a great job with the shop. There’s no way I can replace you. I know your boyfriend is in Cincinnati, but please don’t leave.”
Connie turned the basket around looking at all the goodies, “Great basket. All my favorites. I’m still quitting…I think.”
“You think? So, you might not?”
Connie paused for several minutes as she continued to explore the contents.
Finally, she spoke. “I was just thinking. I’m not sure I want to go back to my old job or back to Cincinnati. After working with Gary for several months, I think it’s time for me to find out what I really want to do, what my purpose is.”
“So, you’ll stay?” the boss blurted out in excitement.
“Not forever. Don’t assume,” Connie said.
She smiled thinking about the words she had just said. Six months ago she wouldn’t have dared say anything like that to anyone. Now, it felt good. She was beginning to find her “no.”
“Can we make a deal?” Connie asked.
“Maybe,” the boss said hesitantly. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking,” She paused again. The boss pulled up a stool and sat across the counter from her. “I’ve been thinking about going back to school.”
“And,” the boss said.
“Yes, I’d like to be in Cincinnati, but I have a job, an apartment and my choice of schools here. What if you got, maybe, another student and we’d coordinate our schedules. Or, I take night classes and you tend the store when I have class?
“But, you aren’t sure about any of it are you?”
“No. I meet with Gary tonight. Can we talk later?” Connie asked.
“So, there is a chance I could have you here for another four years or more?”
“Can we table this discussion until after my meeting with Gary?”
“Sure,” the boss answered in quiet excitement.
A Life On Purpose
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ, . . . he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. Ephesians 1:11 (Msg)
Living a Life On Purpose is far greater than personal happiness, even fulfillment, or peace of mind. It’s greater than your career, family, ambitions or even your wildest dreams.
Some people say, “I just want to be happy.” Other people say they want a fulfilling life. Simon Sinek stated in an article on LinkedIn that happiness comes from what you do in life, whereas, fulfillment comes from WHY you do it.
True happiness and fulfillment, though, comes from connecting with your God-Given Purpose. It doesn’t begin with you. It begins with God. You were born to fulfill the purpose that God gave you.
Most people have three basic questions about life according to Warren.
- “Who am I?”
- “Do I matter?”
- “What is my place in life?”
“The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point—ourselves.” – Warren
You can’t find your purpose by focusing on yourself. It’s only when you look to your creator will you be able to find your identity, meaning, purpose, significance and your destiny. It’s only when you begin to walk in your destiny will you begin to feel fulfillment.
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
Connie in Gary’s Office
Connie was lost in thought staring at her phone when Gary opened the door to his office.
“Connie,” Gary said interrupting her deep concentration. “Come on in. Share your thoughts.”
Connie looked at him not really sure what he had said.
“You looked like you were in Never Never Land. Fill me in. What’s going on? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so engrossed in your thoughts. You don’t seem depressed, just lost in thought.”
“Well, you know I have one more week before I am supposed to quit my job and go back to Cincinnati, right?”
Gary nodded as he leaned forward resting his elbows on his desk giving Connie his full attention.
“First of all, I’m so excited. My boss asked me to stay. I was able to tell her, “Not forever. Don’t assume.” That’s the first time, I think ever, that I’ve been able to say anything like that to someone. I was so excited.”
“But I did say, ‘not forever,’” she paused. The excitement in her face began to fade.
Gary waited, not wanting to interrupt her thoughts.
Connie looked up and smiled, “No, I’m not depressed if that’s what you’re wondering. I’ve been trying to figure out what my purpose is, what do I really want to do? I have the opportunity to change the whole direction of my life. I don’t have to go back to my old job and my old life. I have the opportunity to, as you’ve said, ‘create my life on purpose.’ I’m just not sure how to do that. And I’ve been trying to figure out what my God-Given Purpose is.”
“Then let’s get started,” Gary said. “Before we start, I want you to close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a minute or two. As you breathe, allow your body to relax. Once you are relaxed, Ask God to show you your purpose through the exercises we’ll be doing.”
“God tells us when we lack wisdom to ask and he gives to us generously. Write down whatever comes into your mind after you ask. Take as long as you need when you open your eyes we’ll start the exercises.”
James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Connie looked up, “I’m ready.”
“Did you write down anything?”
“I did. It says ‘help others.’ But, I don’t know exactly what that means.”
“That’s okay. Let’s keep going. The first one is called The Tombstone Exercise.”
Connie looked up, “Tombstone Exercise?”
- “Imagine looking back over your life immediately after your death. Draw the shape of a tombstone on your paper. Write your name on the top of the tombstone. Under your name write the phrase, ‘A person who…‘”
“Now, close your eyes imagine that you have just died. Your tombstone is being carved with a single sentence that captures what your life is about, expressing a vision of what matters most to you. This is the core of your life, what you are here to do. It’s okay if it’s not true right now. That’s what we’re working on. This is the core of your purpose, what you are here on the earth to do. Let it settle into your spirit. Feel it down deep inside.”
Connie sat with her eyes closed for a while then began to write.
“Do you want me to read it now?” she asked.
2. “No, not yet. God has given you special gifts and strengths that are uniquely you. God’s purpose for you usually involves the things that you are already good at. List the special gifts and strengths that are uniquely you.”
Connie settled back into her seat and began to write.
When she looked up, he continued.
3. “Now it’s time to find your Passion. This will take a little more time. He handed her a sheet with the questions. I want you to answer these questions in your journaling over the next week. Really be aware of how you feel while you are answering them. Write it down. Write down everything that comes to your mind.”
- What personal qualities or strengths are you trying to develop? For example compassion, perseverance, acceptance, the ability to express or receive love, or courage, etc.
- Choose one quality and imagine that you already have that quality. Write what your life would look like and how it would be different.
- What subject could you read 500 books about without getting bored?
- What could you do for five years straight without getting paid?
- What would you spend your time doing if money wasn’t an issue?
- Pay attention to your feelings of well-being, rightness, significance, etc. Write about the event that created these feelings.
- What actions did you take that were guided by that sense of well-being? Explain.
- Use the questions above, describe what matters most to you, and remember that talents, gifts, passion, and purpose go hand in hand.
- Using the answers and journaling to the above questions, distill your life purpose into one or two sentences.
- How close are you to your purpose?
“I want you to keep something in mind while you’re answering these questions. The more mindful you are of your God-Given Purpose, the greater impact it will have on your life and the lives of those around you. By going through this exercise, you are intentionally and on purpose creating your life around your God-Given Purpose.”
“It’s been said that God works at the intersection of your gifts and your passion.”-Mike Ward.