What’s Your Life Purpose?
I Just returned from a festive weekend at Princeton for what is called “reunions” weekend. Alumni from all different graduation years come back for a festive and nostalgic celebration in remembrance of their youthful days at Old Nassau. Decked out in orange and black, Princetonians of all ages sing the tune of the centuries-old fight song against the historic backdrop of the ivy-covered gothic architecture–quite a sight to see.
This year was my 5th reunion, which brought back over 80% of our class body. Over the course of two and half days we mingled from one event to the next, one person to the next re-connecting and filling each other in on our lives–what we’ve been doing, achieving and accomplishing the past five years since graduating. But no matter who it was or how much had been achieved, I sensed many of my classmates (myself included) were beginning to ask the deeper questions: What am I doing with my life? What is my purpose? Where am I headed?
Clayton M. Christensen, a Professor at Harvard Business School wrote in the Harvard Business Review last year how startled he was how few of the world’s best students at Harvard Business School had given little thought to the purpose of their lives. According to him, having a clear and defined purpose is essential to one’s well-being in life. But it is not something that just falls into one’s lap, but must be searched for and sought after as he did in his own life. He recounts his experience as a Rhodes Scholar,
“I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life…It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.”
Wow. I wonder what each of our lives would look like if we made a similar commitment to spending an hour every day reading, thinking, and praying about why God put us here on this earth. There will always be other things competing for our time and energy, but if we catch this principle of searching and commit to it, unimaginable treasures are to be found:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
“…if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:4-5)
Looking, searching, asking, seeking is part of the deal if we ever want to discover our life purpose. But so few of us do it, letting the busyness of life take precedence. The tyranny of the urgent often wins. Like Christensen so wisely did many years ago, take some time out each day to take stock of your own life–not just what you are doing but why you are doing it and who you are becoming in the process. You don’t have to be overly religious or spiritual about it. Simply decide to set aside some time each day to read, think, and pray about why YOU were put on this earth. And then dedicate your life to doing it with all your heart, mind, body and soul. Treasures of peace, joy and fulfillment are sure to follow!