Got Purpose? [v55]

SEPTEMBER 2003

GOT PURPOSE?—Recently I saw the popular 1996 film Jerry Maguire. It’s about a man who knows the ‘score’—as a top agent at Sports Management International, Jerry is unquestionably master of his universe. Trouble is, Jerry’s mind, mouth, and soul are usually on automatic pilot.

But the story changes quickly to his wrestling with a number of issues that have made him question who he has become. These issues offend his set of values—and he goes so far as to say that he “hates himself”, but then corrects himself to say he “hates his place in the world.”

Maguire then writes a stirring, visionary mission statement for SMI entitled “The Things We Think And Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business.” Among the values he talks about in the mission statement are the “simple pleasures,” “protecting clients in health and injury,” “caring,” and being “the me I always wanted to be.” He harkens back to his mentor, Dickie Fox, who said sports agentry is all about personal relationships.

Above all, the mission statement inspires him to say: “I had finally started my life.” As the film progresses, and the mission statement turns out not to be well received by his company, and we realize that what Maguire has written is a personal mission statement for his own life rather than for his company—purpose and meaning for the future of his own life.

Maguire said that people in his business, including himself, had forgotten about what was really important.

What is REALLY IMPORTANT to you? Do you have a personal mission statement? Are you deciding on purpose?

Consider, for example, that every company formulates a mission statement. It is invoked when measuring achievements and failures. If a company does not know why it exists then it will never know if it is failing or succeeding. How indicting, then, is it to all of us who will labor for hours on a mission statement for a company to sell products or services, but never pause long enough to write one out for our individual lives!

Did you ever hear that song from a few decades ago, “Is That All There Is?” (provided below). It’s a strangely haunting song, because it crystalizes some of our own confusion about the meaning of life and the purpose for our existence.

Why am I here? It’s one of those basic questions of life that nibbles around the corners of our minds from time to time. We go through many days on auto-pilot, just following the routine, doing what’s expected. Then come those nagging questions: “What’s the use?”, “What difference does it make?”, and “Why am I here on this planet earth, doing what I’m doing?”

If you had to answer that question right now, “Why am I here?” what would you say? Could you easily articulate your reason for being? If you struggle with that answer, if you have difficulty coming up with a good purpose for your life, then you might be like a ship without a rudder, being tossed, to and fro, by the ‘waves’ of outside influences?

When we have a purpose for our lives, which we clearly understand and are committed to, we go about our daily lives with intention, with enthusiasm, with good work habits, with goals, and with accomplishments. A person who is unsure of why he or she is here is usually one who flounders from one thing to another, who doesn’t seem to be highly motivated, or who is easily persuaded in various directions. That is a double-minded person, unstable in all he or she does.

Maybe you thought when you got ‘that’ job your life would be meaningful. Or when you got married, there would be a reason for living. Or when you accomplished some goal or reached a certain level, then life’s purpose would be realized. And you’ve found that it hasn’t worked out that way. Maybe you’ve been singing that old song, “Is That All There Is?”

In an article contained in Halftime Magazine, Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, said, “Most people struggle with three basic issues in life. The first is the issue of identity: ‘Who am I?’ The second is the issue of importance: ‘Do I matter?’ And the third is the issue of impact: ‘What is my purpose in life?’ ”

Warren went on to say that, “God’s purpose [for] your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It will last longer than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose. Even Bertrand Russell, the renowned atheist admitted, ‘Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.’ ”

Socrates taught that the unexamined life is not worth living. What he meant by that was that it would be a tragedy to go through life and not pursue life’s meaning. But in our day, we have turned the saying around and have said that the examined life is not worth living. In the popular movie “The Matrix,” the plot revolves around a massive illusion or deception that effectively blinds people to the true nature of reality. As long as the routines of life continue unaffected, the people go unreflectively about their daily business, unaware of a sinister delusion.

Counselor and author Richard Leider, has, for nearly 25 years, done such an examination. He has interviewed thousands of senior citizens, who were successful in their jobs, and who retired from leading companies after distinguished careers. He asked them to look back over their lives and talk about what they had learned. Almost without exception, when these older people look back, most say the same things—things, I believe, that can be instructive and useful for the rest of us as we make decisions going forward in our lives.

First, they said that if they could live their lives over again, they would be MORE REFLECTIVE. They got so caught up in the doing, they say, that they often lost sight of the meaning. Usually it took a crisis for them to look at their lives in perspective and try to reestablish the context. Looking back, they wished they had stopped at regular intervals to look at the big picture.

They also sounded a warning: Life picks up speed. The first half of your life is about getting prepared and getting established. Then time shifts gears. You hit the second half of your life, and everything moves faster. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and all of a sudden, you’re 65 years old. Looking back, they say, you realize that time is the most precious currency in life. And as they got older, having time for reflection became even more important.

Second, if they could live their lives over again, they would TAKE MORE RISKS. In relationships, they would have been more courageous, and in expressing their creative side, they would have taken more chances. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us.” Many of these people felt that, despite of their successes, their music was still inside them. Almost all of them said that they felt the most alive when they took risks. Just being busy from business made them numb. “Aliveness” came with learning, growing, stretching, and exploring.

Third, if they could live their lives over again, they would understand what really gave them fulfillment. I call that the POWER OF PURPOSE—doing something that contributes to one’s life now, and leaving a ‘legacy’ after one passes. Purpose seems always to be outside oneself, beyond one’s ego or financial self-interest.

Well, as individuals we can all get lost in life’s shuffle when we don’t have a strong purpose and an underlying understanding of why we exist.

I submit that true meaning in life can only come by being in harmony with the reason our Creator, the God of the Bible, made us in the first place. The Bible says, “For everything—absolutely everything—above and below, visible and invisible everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him” [Colossians 1:16 ]. You were made by God—and you were made for God. I believe that until this truly resonates inside us, life will not make sense. We were not put on this earth for our own satisfaction. We were not put on this earth for our own fulfillment. We were not put on this earth for our own happiness. God made us for His purposes.

There is a sense in which each of us is unique, and I believe that God has a personal, unique, and specific purpose for your life waiting to be discovered.

How can we discover God’s personal purpose for our lives? One way is to prepare a written “Life Purpose” statement. I believe that every person should prepare a statement that reflects their understanding of “what his or her life is all about”—a thread of continuity that you can weave into your long-term view of life. It describes how you perceive the meaning of your life.

It has been said that creating a personal mission statement will be, without question, one of the most powerful and significant things one can ever do to take leadership of one’s life. In it you will identify the first, most important roles, relationships, and things in your life–who you want to be, what you want to do, to whom and what you want to give your life, the principles you want to anchor your life to, and the legacy you want to leave. All the goals and decisions you will make in the future will be based upon it. It’s like deciding first which wall you want to lean your ladder of life against, and then beginning to climb. It will be a compass—a strong source of guidance amid the stormy seas and pressing, pulling ‘currents’ of your life.

Another ‘tool’ that has been valuable to many people is considering the principles and concepts put forth by Rick Warren in his #1 best-selling book, “THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE.”

Self-help books often suggest that one try to discover the meaning and purpose of one’s life by looking within oneself, but Warren says that is the wrong place to start. He also suggests that we must begin with God, and His reasons for creating you—and until we understand that, life will never make sense.

This book proposes to help us understand why we are alive and God’s amazing plan for us. The book is structured as a personal 40-DAY JOURNEY that will help you answer one of life’s most important questions: WHAT ON EARTH AM I HERE FOR?

Warren submits that knowing God’s purpose for creating you will reduce your stress, focus your energy, simplify your decisions, give meaning to your life, and, most importantly, prepare you for eternity.

Today the ‘average’ life expectancy in America is 25,550 days. Don’t you think it would be a wise use of time to set aside 40 of those days to figure out what you should do with the rest you have coming?

The book is divided into 40 small chapters (about 5 pages each)—something even the busiest people can ‘fit’ into their daily routine.

To get the most out of this journey, Warren encourages the ‘wayfarer’ to write down their thoughts in the margins of the book or in some kind of journal—to enable one to review where they have come from. That is why he has also developed an optional “Life Journal” as a companion to the book.

Warren also encourages people to “share” this journey with others—with a partner or a small “reading group” so one can discuss what one has read and ‘bounce’ ideas off each other—helping one better understand the material.

Personally, I am very excited to embark on this journey. Would any of you like to JOIN ME in this ‘adventure’?

We could all start the book on the same day and coordinate by doing one or more of the following:

– All of us read a chapter each day and ‘swap’ e-mails once a week with everyone else interested

– Pick a “partner” to meet with regularly to discuss further

– Pick a day(s) during the week that most of us could meet together as a group

QUESTION: ARE YOU INTERESTED IN DOING THIS?

Having had, in the past, very enlightening experiences as a part of a group, I am offering to be the ‘host’ for anyone who would like to get together on a weekly basis. So, PLEASE REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL on whether or not you are at all interested in joining me in this ‘adventure’.

Let me challenge you to ask yourself, Why are you here, and what are you living for? Only when you sort out the answers will you truly be ready to live. Or in the words of the now-famous Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, “Everyone dies; but not everyone truly lives.”

[Excerpts from: Ravi Zacharias; Don Johnson; Mary Whelchel]

P.S. If you would like more information about the book and available resources, click on this link:
http://www.purposedrivenlife.com/

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v55) for SEPTEMBER 2003.
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net

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IS THAT ALL THERE IS?
I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, “Is that all there is to a fire”

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears.
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle.
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don’t know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, “is that all there is to a circus?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

Then I fell in love, head over heels in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day he went away and I thought I’d die, but I didn’t,
and when I didn’t I said to myself, “is that all there is to love?”

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing

I know what you must be saying to yourselves,
if that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me. I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment,
for I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I’m breathing my lst breath, I’ll be saying to myself

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is.
[Peggy Lee]

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ALL THERE IS
In the eyes of the world your touch is like gold
Your reputation’s so cool and cruel and controlled
You count your money in your prison tower
Made of concrete, glass, and steel
Feeling cozy in the hollow warmth of another business deal

You’ve climbed your way to the top but lately it seems
That there’s a hole in the heart of the American dream
Sittin’ pretty in your trophy room with your shining souvenirs
That just remind you of the wasted time and the lateness of the years

Is that all, is that all there is
Is that all, there must be more than this

In the eyes of the world your touch is like gold
Your reputation’s so cool and cruel and controlled
In a moment it could all be gone in the twinkling of an eye
Then what’s your pile of precious pride worth then
If you’ve never wondered why

Is that all, is that all there is
Is that all, there must be more than this
Is that all, is that all there is
Is that all, there must be more than this
[Dan Fogelberg]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”  [St. Augustine]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails”  [Proverbs 19:21].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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