Digging Deeper into Your Life Purpose

by Andy Wood on March 6, 2015

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Time

Your Purpose Green Road Sign

Welcome back to the tour.  Hope you enjoyed the break, and I hope you have a good, roughed up version of a personal mission statement.  We’re ready to move to the advanced part of the lab.  Before we go in, remember, this is MY lab and it’s still messy.  Also remember that this work was done because of a felt need for change.  If you are absolutely satisfied that your personal mission statement is something you can organize your work and life around, with conviction and passion, leave it alone.

Oh… and if you haven’t taken the time to do a little soul work and put your mission statement together, back up to the first part of the tour and get caught up.  Otherwise, we may hijack your tombstone and just say, “He (or she) was too busy to wonder why.”

Ready to go in?  Let’s to this.

Revisiting the First Part

The mission statement I made at the seminar wasn’t too bad:

My primary purpose in life is to create a world of personal fulfillment by communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

But I can’t remember where all the interest in personal fulfillment came from, or even how I defined it.  So I decide to revisit that. What does a “world of personal fulfillment” look like?  Is there a better answer to the question, “I would like to live in a world of…”  So I brainstorm that again:

I would like to live in a world of… (1) love, (2) peace, (3) laughter, (4) personal fulfillment, (5) freedom, (6) growth, (7) delight, (8) discovery, (9) joy, (10) encouragement, (11) motivation, (12) opportunity, (13) possibilities.

I don’t see anything on that list that improves on it, but I’m still not satisfied.  Let’s try rewording:

My primary purpose in life is to communicate truth with passion and personally encourage others so that we all live in a world of fulfilled potential.

I think that’s what I’m looking for.  Fulfillment of what?  Good feelings?  No.  We fulfill our purpose and potential and promises.  Fulfillment means bringing to realization what has only been started or talked about.  But fulfillment can be applied in so many ways, maybe that’s why I kept it vague to start with.  I’ve slept since then.

More brainstorming:  Fulfilled dreams… Fulfilled needs… Fulfilled prophecies… Fulfilled promises… Fulfilled potential… Fulfilled purpose… Those last three – promise, potential and purpose are what resonate the most.

A dictionary definition of fulfillment tells me that it is about realization (make actual), execution, satisfaction, completion, and perfection (improvement).

I think I’m back at personal fulfillment.  Or maybe organizational fulfillment too?  Should it just be “a world of fulfillment?”  Or… here it is, even at the risk of redundancy – fulfilled purpose.  I want to live in a world of fulfilled purpose, where

  • promises are realized, not just talked about. Principle:  actualization
  • orders or commands are executed. Principle:  execution
  • potential is satisfied Principle: satisfaction
  • what’s started gets completed. Principle:  completion
  • what’s good today gets better tomorrow. Principle:  perfection

I don’t just want to live in that world – I want to help create it for others.  So the three pillars of my life:

  • Fulfilled purpose (that’s why I love the idea of coaching and consulting)
  • Passionate communication (that why I love writing, preaching and teaching)
  • Personal encouragement (that’s why I love counseling and coaching)

But I just realized that fulfilled purpose is the key, and that the other two are the means to get there.  That’s huge.  It’s one foundation, with two support beams.

Let’s do clean up the first phrase, though. It’s wordy and passive and sleepy.  Instead of “My primary purpose in life is,” let’s change it to “I live to…”  That’s a nice reminder that I’m not dead yet. And it’s more, well, alive!

I live to create a world of fulfilled purpose by communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

Where’s God in All This?

Hmmm.  While the mission statement involves reflections of the image of God, it leaves God out of the equation.  So what if were more explicit about that?

I live to glorify God by creating a world of fulfilled purpose through communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

I like that. It rings true.  It combines a PURPOSE statement with a MISSION statement.  Purpose answers the question, “why?”  Mission answers the question, “what?” Purpose is about being, mission is about doing.  Purpose is about results, mission is about how to deliver them.

Now… do I want to enhance the phrase “glorify God” (works for Chick Fil-A) or reframe it to reflect what “glorify” – I love the definition that says “to make beautiful.”

I live to make the name of God beautiful?

Poetic. But raises more questions than answers.

For nearly as long as I have been a believer, if someone asks me what my favorite verse in the Bible was, probably to this day I would say Philippians 1:20:

“according to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed(!), but that, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

I’ve always been drawn to the phrase “Christ shall be magnified.”  I’ve done a horrible job of living up to it throughout my life.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the reason I live is Christ (v. 21) and to die is gain… another of Paul’s purpose statements.  Why has that always been something I have gravitated to since my high school or college days?

I think that is one of God’s archetypes for me.  It was the text of the first sermon I ever preached.  It was the scriptural signature I added to my name for a long time – Philippians 1:20-21.

So, what if the Lord is drawing me back to this theme?  That would change the purpose statement to read:

I live to magnify Christ by creating a world of fulfilled purpose through communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

In a World…

I’m still not sure about the “create a world of…” language.  First of all “a world” is a bit of a cliché.  “Create,” unless understood in the context of being made in the image of God, is a bit presumptuous or arrogant.  On the other hand, if I say, “I live to glorify God by helping others fulfill their purpose…” then “helping others” seems too weak and even cliché-ish itself.

So let’s hash this out some…

This is the “purpose” end of the mission statement – it has to do with the impact my life has on the world around me, expressed in terms of their experience, not mine.  That’s why “fulfilled purpose” is such a nice fit.  No arguing there.  But what is/are the verb(s)?

Create?  Help?  It’s more than these words, but entails…

  • Challenge
  • Help
  • Empower (I like that)
  • Motivate
  • Exhort
  • Enlighten
  • Coach

Definitions for “empower” are:

  • give (someone) the authority or power to do something.
  • make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

If I changed it to “empower” it would be:

I live to magnify Christ by empowering people to fulfill their purpose through communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

Downside:  it leaves out organizations.  To add that would read:

I live to magnify Christ by empowering people and organizations to fulfill their purpose through communicating truth with passion and personally encouraging others.

Now it’s getting a little wordy.  The other problem is the preposition “through.”  If I’m not careful it reads as if THEY are the ones doing the passionate communicating and personal encouragement.

While I like “empower,” I don’t like the limitations of “people” alone and I don’t like “organizations” in my mission statement.

Back to the Archetypes

“Personally encouraging” is meaningful, but feels incomplete.  The Greek word – another archetype for me – is parakaleo, and personal encouragement is only one expression of the original word.  It means “call alongside.”  It’s the word for the Holy Spirit, and means “comfort,” “encourage,” “call”.  It speaks of encouragement to be sure, and also counseling, coaching.

That’s the problem – one English word can’t contain it.  “Shepherding” or “pastoring” would work if they weren’t so vocational in English.  So would coaching.  It involves pacing and presence (hence the idea of “alongside”).  At the end of the day “encouraging” works OK if it is understood correctly as being more than just feeling better (comforting).  I suppose I could reword it as “giving courage to others.”  That captures more of the “take action” form of the word.

So…

I live to magnify Christ by creating a world of fulfilled purpose through communicating truth with passion and giving courage to others.

A Minimalist Approach

Still not all the way there, but getting closer.

Simplest the best?  What about a minimalist approach?

I live to magnify Christ by empowering people to fulfill their purpose.

Hmmm.  I like it.  But it neglects passionate communication and personal encouragement.  Are those contained in the words “empower” and “fulfill?”  Somewhat.  Actually for me, totally.  Other people may empower in other ways, but that’s how I do it.   But leaving them out puts some pop into the statement and greatly simplifies it.  I can always add the second sentence.  So…

I live to magnify Christ by empowering people to fulfill their purpose.

I do this by communicating truth with passion and giving courage to others.

I may be there.  Purpose and Mission.

Okay, I told you the lab was still messy.  Want to see the finished project?  It also includes a slightly revised Values Statement.  Click here

Thanks for joining the tour.  But now it’s your turn.

  • Does your mission or purpose statement describe your impact on the world around you?
  • Does it reflect your spiritual values or relationship with God?
  • Does it reflect your archetypes – the symbols and themes of your life to this point?
  • Does it cut through the clichés and energize you just to read it?

This may seem tedious now, but it can keep you from wasting the one life you have in the pursuit of trivia or busyness.  Dig deep here, and you’ll find a wellspring of clarity and joy.

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