At some point, we all ponder that age old question, “Why am I here?” I believe we’re all created with a deep inner desire to discover our purpose in life, to find our true calling. It would sure simplify matters if God would just part the heavens, and illuminate us with knowledge of His plan! In my experience however, He rarely (Never!) feels obligated to clue me in on the details; not even a hint, never mind something as dramatic as a burning bush! I suspect we benefit as much from seeking the answer as in actually finding it.
Even for those who don’t believe in the notion of a divine destiny, this search for meaning and significance is still just as real. In today’s culture, there is a lot of emphasis placed on finding your passion and pursuing your dreams. We buy into that entrepreneurial mantra that “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” There are many who have managed to find that sweet spot where their passion, talent, and skill set intersect with a need in the market place. We call them successful.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with such lofty pursuits, I think there is an inherent danger in this mind set. If your “dream job” seems forever out of reach, it could be easy to conclude that you have somehow failed, that your life has no meaning or purpose. In all honesty, I’ve felt this way before, and I can tell you that nothing feels quite as hopeless as being consigned to a life of insignificance.
Thankfully, I’ve learned that my sense of purpose or self worth is not contingent on outward circumstances, but rather on my perception. And believe me, the latter is often much easier to change than the former! In seeking a more accurate perspective, I’ve become convinced that our passion and purpose isn’t defined nearly as much by what we do, as it is by how we do it and who we’re doing it for!
I agree that passion is extremely important in life, much too important to be confined to a particular job you think you’d love to do. Passion should be a quality of character that we carry with us at all times, and applied to everything we do. Back in the day this was called “taking pride” in your work. Hell, anybody can be happy herding unicorns through fields of lilacs and rainbows for a living! But show me someone who can dig a ditch with a smile on his face, and I’ll show you a man of character. Choosing to be grateful just to have a job, and then performing it to the very best of your ability looks a lot like passion!
Finally, any measure of success that doesn’t focus on serving others is shallow and short lived at best. Renowned motivational Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” That gets pretty close to the root of finding your purpose in life; if not in detail, at least in principle. A dear mentor of mine, John “Moe” Holleran, used to quote a poem that I think best illustrates the point:
- I sought my God; my God I could not see
- I sought my soul; my soul eluded me
- I sought my fellow man, and I found all three.
When I think only of my own happiness or personal sense of fulfillment, the idea of getting in that 18 wheeler later tonight and driving to San Antonio would feel like meaningless drudgery. But when I focus on the family I have to support, being an example to my kids and grandkids of what a work ethic looks like, and the many others who depend on me safely delivering that freight on time, suddenly this J.O.B. feels a little more important, almost like a noble calling. In fact, I’m not so sure I would ever deserve anything more out of life if I couldn’t first be faithful, and thankful, with what I’ve already been given.
So what’s the moral to the story? If you can’t find passion and purpose where you’re at, you’re not likely to find it somewhere else. Besides, all the cool unicorn herding jobs are already taken!