Friday, May 31, 2013

Having a Purpose

eye of the wall

Photo rights KS Photoprints

Ever meet someone who’s magnetism is matched by his or her humility and genuine concern for others?  In my life B.C. (before children), I taught at a middle school in the area and had the privilege of working with a woman who was magnetic.  Not magnetic in the sense that she was boisterous and the life of the party, but magnetic in the sense that she lived life differently.  She seemed to work and live at a different pace.  She wasn’t frenzied or worried and possessed an enviable sense of peace.  She was soft spoken, slow to speak, and quick to listen.

My sister-in-law is another such woman.  Rarely angered, quick to find the best in others, and never given to gossip or degrading talk about others but rather seeks to always find the best in people and situations.  A doting wife and loving mother who lives simply and loves deeply.  Never tries to top others’ stories and experiences with her own or to “1 up” others.  Again, soft spoken, slow to speak, and quick to listen.  Truly a life of integrity.

And another one.  The guy who took the photo at the top of this post?  Yeah, he's one of those, too.  A guy who genuinely loves people, looks for beauty in everything, and is grateful for every day.  One who asks and listens before he speaks and takes great joy in the smallest of things.

So how does one become that way?  The world would tell us it’s simply personality (no doubt Myers-Briggs would assign four letters to them) or possibly how they were raised.  But I would say a great deal of it is learned.  It is not natural for any of us to be unselfish; we are all egocentric and want others to listen to us, connect with us, and need us, so to learn to listen first and speak second has to be learned.  It is my observation that all three of these people and others like them live life with a sense of purpose.  They know who they are and where they’re going.

But sadly the world views this type of person as weak, and she is often overlooked or taken advantage of because she doesn’t assert her rights or demand to be noticed.  But when these men and women do speak up, they’re met with opposition because they speak the truth.  They’re “goodness” makes the rest of us wrestle with our lack thereof, and because they make us feel uncomfortable we often keep them at arm’s length and steer our conversations the the shallow end of the pool.  Often, we are condescending and strive to talk down at such a person because if we allow ourselves to be the expert then we don’t have to be confronted with our own “badness” or allow them to speak truth into areas where we don’t want to face it.

The reason these truth-speakers live with a sense of purpose and have learned such behavior is because they’ve learned to model their lives after the One absolute truth-speaker.  One whose very being is truth and peace--not personality, not something learned.  Jesus lived his life in a way that threatened those in authority because he lived with purpose.  He knew he had come to die for us and bring us life, and the trivial things of this world did not matter.  He need not power.  He need not fame.  He need not the praise of men.  I can imagine that he was not frenzied, was not worried, and seemed to live life at a different pace than those who swarmed him.  His eyes were ever on the Father and on his purpose.

We don’t need personality tests or spiritual gift inventories to reveal our purpose in life.  It is not some great mystery.  The mystery is that a loving God would send his perfect son Jesus Christ to die for us that we might live.  And that mystery has been made known (Ephesians 1:9).   Our purpose is to keep our eyes on our Father and imitate the life of his perfect son, and in doing so we’ll become a person who is magnetic in her humility, love, and concern for others.