Monday, January 07, 2013

How You Can Find Your Purpose In Life

Are you living with a clearly defined purpose? Is that purpose guiding your daily decisions and actions?

Will Mancini of Auxano likes to say, "Clarity isn't everything but clarity changes everything." Are you clear when it comes to your purpose?

Sadly, many of us are not clear on why we are here. So, we run from activity to activity based on our own feelings and the opportunities that present themselves. We let others dictate our agenda by responding appropriately (or sometimes inappropriately) when called upon.

A purpose will give you clarity, focus, strength, motivation, consistency. It will be attractive and draw the involvement of others.

Last year, I took our sons, Evan and Ryan, to see the film Hugo. It's a film by Martin Scorsese. The film certainly entertains while making a major point about the importance of each person finding and living out his/her unique purpose.

Hugo, filmed in 3D, earned 5 Oscars. It won the awards for cinematography (Robert Richardson) and art direction (Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo). It captured the Academy Awards for sound editing (Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty) and sound mixing (Tom Fleischman and John Midgley). Hugo also took the prize for best visual effects (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning).

Hugo is an orphan boy living in a train station in 1930s Paris. He learned to fix clocks and other gadgets from his father and uncle which he puts to use keeping the train station clocks running. The only thing that he has left that connects him to his dead father is a mechanical man that doesn't work without a special key which Hugo needs to find to unlock the secret he believes it contains.

On his adventures, he meets with a shopkeeper who works in the train station and his adventure-seeking god-daughter. This grumpy old man, played by Ben Kingsley, is the preeminent French film pioneer, George Melies, who was also the original inventor of the mechanical man.

By film's end, Hugo finds his purpose and helps others find theirs as he unlocks some memories that Melies has buried inside regarding his past.

In a remarkable scene in the film, Hugo says, "A broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do. Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose, it's like you're broken... I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too." 

Have you found your unique purpose yet? Can you clearly articulate it? Do you see that you are more than just an extra part? Have you found your reason for living? Are you clear that you are doing what you are meant to do?

Here’s a simple 30-minute exercise to help you find your purpose:

1. Write a prayer at the top of a piece of paper, “Father God, what is my true purpose in life? Why did You make me? How can I best glorify You? Lord, how am I supposed to make disciples? Holy Spirit, would You speak to my heart and reveal to me my mission?"

2. Quiet your heart. Be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). It's in returning to the Lord, resting in Him, being quiet before Him, and trusting in Him that we find our strength (Isaiah 30:15). Learn to listen for the Lord's still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

3. Write what comes into your mind. It doesn't have to be well-crafted or even profound. This is a rough, rough, rough draft. You might write a word, a phrase, or a sentence. Now, skip a space. Clear your mind, pray again, and write again - a word, a phrase, a sentence. For the next 30 minutes, repeat this process - mixing words, concepts, phrases, and ideas. Repeat these steps until you write something that moves you, that feels right - that brings a tear to your eye or a smile to your face. Listen for the Spirit's voice that says, "This is the way; walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

4. Take your personal purpose statement out for a "test drive." Review it everyday. Post it in a prominent place. Use your statement as a grid through which you will make all your decisions. Do the words inspire you? Does the purpose help guide you? Do other people think that your purpose fits you?"

5. Tweak your purpose periodically. As you grow in your understanding of God and yourself, then your understanding of your purpose will change. As your circumstances and responsibilities change, then your purpose must morph.

You are not an extra part. As Hugo says, "If you lose your purpose, it's like you're broken... I [realized I] had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too."

Find your purpose to lose your brokenness and gain your focus. Find your purpose. You will be better for it. And so will be the world.

Question: What do you think keeps many people from finding their purpose?

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