If I were a betting man (which I am from time to time…LOL) I’d be willing to wager four hard earned quarters that every person reading this blog has heard at least one talk, lecture or sermon dealing with purpose. Not that you had to listen from start to finish, although that likelihood is just as high. As a society, we are inundated with this whole idea of discovering, finding, or unlocking our purpose. Given its obvious popularity, my question is how important is purpose when it comes to understanding who we really are?
Does it sound like a loaded question? Well, it should because within the question is a major assumption that can’t be ignored. Again, given the obvious popularity of purpose within our society, we can assume our purpose is what defines us and tells the world who we really are. It’s as if our identity is tied to this thing that we do or better yet, this purpose we’ve unearthed. Quite frankly, I have a real problem with being defined by what I do. And, you should too.
Now, this isn’t an indictment on finding our purpose and being clear on the things that bring us fulfillment. I’ve given time and energy discovering those things myself. However, we are so much more than what we do! I love how Mary Pritchard addressed this in her Huffington Post article, “Society praises those who do: It’s more about what you accomplish than who you are as a person.” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, there’s usually a pattern we all typically follow when conducting business or simply meeting someone for the first time. The exchange usually happens like this:
Good Afternoon, my name is Sam.
Hey, Sam…my name is Brent.
Great meeting you, Brent…so what do you do?
I’m in Sales, you?
I’m a mechanic.
Is this not the unofficial format for getting to know a person? We’re not as concerned about likes or dislikes, proclivities or tendencies. We’ve convinced ourselves along the way that if we know what a person does, we can mysteriously surmise who a person is.
In a previous blog, I made this statement: Our being finds meaning in relationship with our Creator. The strength of this statement is the word meaning. It’s the thing we all crave and long to experience. Having a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose is the cry of every human heart. As long as we’re able to do, able to provide something of worth, we have meaning. The minute we lose that ability, we can easily fall into despair.
So, what does it mean to find “meaning in relationship with our Creator?” Well, if we revisit a few verses in Psalm 139, we observe David, Israel’s greatest king celebrating two critical truths. The first six verses, he celebrates that God knows Him. In the next six, he celebrates God being with him. Each is extremely important for finding our being in something outside of our doing.
David continues with a reason to celebrate all the more…
“13For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Here’s an interesting fact: David could have used this poem as a way to celebrate the different roles he’s served and things he’s done. Not one time did he mention being a shepherd, a musician, a warrior…not even the slightest mention of being king. Instead, he chooses to celebrate God designing him. Is there something David realized that perhaps we’re overlooking? Absolutely!
Whether we realize it or not, the value of our being far outweighs any value ascribed to our doing. And, when I say far outweighs, I mean far outweighs. Not only do we see this in the life of David, we also observe in the life of Christ. Before his first miracle, even before his initial sermon, Jesus is baptized and receives the affirmation we all long to hear from the Father, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I’m well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). Imagine that. Having done nothing and yet receiving everything.
This is the desire of the Creator. As quiet as it’s kept, it’s also our desire to have a being, not solely defined by our doing but finding complete meaning in relationship with our Creator.