Friday, July 4, 2014

PURPOSE – DO YOU HAVE ONE?

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Have you found your purpose in life? How do you find it? This need is so deeply rooted in our human spirit that we often find ourselves desperate to discover it. We recognize that there's something greater than ourselves that we must participate ina larger role in life that only we can fulfill and which extends beyond our existence as a solitary human being.

My guest this month, Craig Lounsbrough, M. Div., LPC, a Licensed Professional Counselor and ordained minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance, zeroes in on this crucial matter and offers profound, intuitive insight on what purpose is and how to find it. He explains that next to our search for God, it is a “treasure hunt of the greatest sort.” I’m honored to have his article appear on my blog.



PURPOSE – DO YOU HAVE ONE?©
by
Craig Lounsbrough

The need to have a sense of purpose seems to be irrefutably engrained within each and every one of us. When we can't find a sense of purpose, we set out on a journey to discover our purpose. And if we struggle finding it, we often find ourselves desperate. But our purpose is there to be found if we're brave enough to search for it.

Then, there's the world
 around us that proclaims that there is no purpose, there is no meaning, and that we are just happenstance carbon-based life forms that will live and then die having accomplished little more than living and dying. And then to top it off, we see an escalating sense of desperation all around us that causes us to ask "what's the sense anyway?" And out of those feelings of desperation we make poor choices. All because we've forsaken our purpose. We each have a purpose, and it's in ferreting it out and living it out that we live vigorous and fulfilling lives.

Purpose - Do you have one?
We all throw around the idea of having a purpose, or not having one, or wondering if we're supposed to have one, or whatever we're wondering. We wonder if we really need a purpose, and if so do we create it or does it already exist and we just haven't happened to happen upon it just yet. For some of us, we think that the whole idea of having a purpose suggests that life is much more intentional than maybe we thought it was, and that maybe we're all part of a grand design of some sort. For others of us who tend to see life as more happenstance, it's more about figuring out how we can figure ourselves in to whatever's being figured out around us. In that sense, we create a purpose if what's around us appears to make it worthwhile or possibly necessary to do so. However or in whatever way we go about it, we all ponder this whole idea of having a purpose.

We need a purpose

Whatever the nature of our orientation might be, it seems that we need a purpose. There's a lot of things that we talk about and discuss and debate and ponder and pontificate about in life. We analyze and scrutinize a whole bunch of stuff. And most of those discussions are really all about sizing all of that stuff up in order to determine if we want to engage in them or not. Do we want to invest in those things, or learn more about them, or build some part of them into our lives? Or do we categorize them as wholly irrelevant, blithely toss them aside, and move on from them to whatever the next thing's going to be? Most of our discussions are about making determinations where we're actually doing a bit of shopping in order to determine to if we want to purchase the product or pass on it.

But when it comes to purpose, it's not about shopping. Shopping implies that we have a choice. We can purchase something or not purchase something. The sense is that we can live with or without whatever it is that we're considering. Whatever we're looking at is not a 'must' or a 'necessity.' There's a very real option where we can take it or leave it, and whether we take it or leave it we'll be fine either way.

But purpose doesn't appear to be an option. It's not an item that we choose to select or not select. Purpose doesn't even come close to leaving us with the luxury of deciding whether we'll choose it or whether we won't. By virtue of its inborn centrality and completely core necessity, it's simply not optional for purpose to be an option at all. If we're going to live with fullness, we have to be fully committed to seeking out and working out our purpose.

Therefore, the question regarding purpose is not "do we need one?" The question regarding purpose is far beyond any tangled debate as to whether one is necessary. In reality, the question is simple, direct, but inherently complicated. The question demands bravery and it rises on the belief that we have an utterly indispensable role to play in our own existence, and an equally critical role to play in the existence of others. In fact, to not ask the question is to relegate our lives to mediocrity of the basest sort. The question is, "what is my purpose?" It's embracing that question, and insistently asking it until we have the answer squarely in our hands. That action both defines and breaks open our existence in ways few other things do.

What "Purpose" tells us: We're more than just the sum total of our existence

The fact that we have a purpose evidences the fact that we are more than just the sum total of whoever it is that we are. A purpose says that we have a much larger role in this thing that we call life than just the living out of our individual lives. Life is bigger than any of us will ever be as an individual. Purpose tells us that we're specifically designed to engage every bit of that. Purpose tells us that everything that's within us is designed to engage everything that's outside of us, and there's a whole lot out there. A purpose tells us that we are far more than just the sum total of our existence because we are called to do something in an existence that far exceeds us. A purpose tells us that we are more than just "us."


There is something greater than us that we're invited to participate in

The fact that we have a purpose tells us that there is 'something else' out there. It tells us that the horizons in life don't come anywhere close to ending at the end of our existence as the single, solitary human beings that all of us are. The nature of purpose is such that it will always be bigger than us and it always go beyond us. That unshakeable reality substantiates the fact that there's more out there than we can possibly imagine. Purpose not only invites us out to embrace the wonder of imagining all of that, but it extends us a priceless invitation to actually step out into it. Gratefully, a purpose tells us that we are not the end of all that there is. In fact, 'we' are barely the beginning, and that in and of itself is wildly exciting. A purpose says that the 'out there' is far, far greater than the 'in here.' And it invites us out to freely run in it, to exuberantly play in it, and to transform all of it in the running and the playing.


We're a piece of a much larger puzzle that would be incomplete without us

Our purpose tells us that this massive world out there, as huge as it is, is sorely incomplete without us. As big and as enormous and as complicated and as intricate as the world is, it remains less than completely complete without us. We have a purpose in this world that only we can complete. Large or small, complicated or simple, breathtaking or life giving, regardless of what our purpose is, the world will be incomplete unless we fulfill it. That makes each and every one of us terribly important in ways that most of us never even consider, and few of us even remotely conceptualize. We are utterly irreplaceable which makes every one of us invaluable beyond any sort of monetary reckoning that we could hope to calculate. Everything that's out there will be less than everything that's out there if we forsake our purpose. And that fact makes us incredibly valuable.


We don't have to create a purpose, we only have to find it

Purpose is not something that we create or have to create. It's something that we have to find. It's not about tediously constructing some sort of purpose out of the scattered pieces and errant parts of whatever we understand ourselves and our lives to be. It's not about figuring out how we build it. God's done that work already, and He's done it with absolute perfection. We just need to commit ourselves to finding it. Next to our search for God, seeking out our passion is one of the most phenomenal adventures that we will ever have the privilege of undertaking. It's a treasure hunt of the greatest sort. It's an adventure that leaves all other adventures as largely adventure-less. It's seeking out the very thing that we were designed to do. And it's there to be found if we commit to the search.


To not seek out your purpose is only to exist

Yet, many choose not to believe that they have a purpose, or they believe that they have one but don't bother themselves with finding it. There are those of us who succumb to a life of mindless tedium, or a pathetic routine where we senselessly march in lock-step with a world around us that's forsaken its purpose as well. There are those of us who readily embrace the pabulum of mediocrity which declares that things are about as good as they can get, so we'd better just settle for what we've got. We surrender to a purposeless existence which is surrendering to death way ahead of death's actual arrival. And the sad story around all of this is that the majority of people will walk the journey of life down a road flat, never ascending, and rarely challenging. Many of us with know nothing other than a directionless cadence, having left the footprints of our lives meandering down a road that's meandering itself. Eventually the road will lead to wherever apathy and mediocrity pave it. And we can be certain that it will never lead to whatever our purpose was.


Your purpose awaits

You have a purpose. It stands eager and ready to be discovered. Purpose is never going to be so elusive that you can't find it simply because purpose is deeply desirous of being found, seized, unleashed and ultimately achieved. In doing so, you will change your life and the lives of those around you, because when you embrace your purpose nothing less than change can happen. If you don't seize your purpose, you will live out an anemic life and the world will be the poorer for it. Your existence will be of marginal effect, if any effect at all. And that is nothing short of tragic. It's time to ask one of the largest questions that you will ever ask yourself. And that question is, "what is my purpose?" 

~
Craig Lounsbrough, M. Div., LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an author, and an ordained minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance. Based in Parker, Colorado, he has 25 years of counseling experience and over ten years in pastoral ministry where he served as youth pastor, associate pastor and senior pastor. He holds a Master of Divinity degree in Family Pastoral Care and Counseling from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Denver Seminary. He can be contacted at his website: http://www.craiglpc.com.

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