You want to live a life of significance. That makes you human. You want to make a difference in the lives of your children, spouse, friends, colleagues, community, and world. That makes you a compassionate human. You work to make your efforts be worth something.
But, let me ask this question: Are your actions aligned with your values and what you do best? It's likely there is a lack of focus for you. Again, welcome to being human.
It could even be that as much as you want to make a difference, you live with internal conflict and uncertainty that demands your attention. Let's explore what and where you can focus so that you can accomplish your desired outcomes.
At work, your company has a mission. The mission is posted on the wall in strategic places throughout the building. As much as you seek to align your work with the mission, you notice that when it comes to making decisions, the mission is nowhere to be found as a guide in moving forward. It is on the wall, but it never becomes part of the culture.
Over the past 45 years, I have intentionally focused on the mission of the church. I help develop systems that focus on assisting individuals to discover and develop their purpose. I also help people do this as a congregation. Ultimately, I want individuals and congregations to keep the focus of their ministry aligned with their mission.
Focused to a Fault
At times, keeping a focus upon the mission has been offensive and inconvenient. There have been times when I was accused of being "focused to a fault."
At those moments I am challenged to be centered upon the God who has created me, live into who God created me to be and to reaffirm my purpose. Through prayer and reflection, I turn to search the scriptures for direction and confirmation.
When it comes to focus, I often turn to Luke 9:51-53. It reads like this:
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem."
Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem because he was focused upon being who God had created him to be. His purpose was to be the Christ, the anointed one.
To live into his purpose, he was obedient to God by caring for the people he encountered each day. He gave his life in such a way that he was living beyond himself. In Luke's story, we read of Jesus feeding, healing, caring, loving, dying as he lived into his purpose.
What I have learned is that you have an ultimate purpose that is greater than your own life. To be focused upon your purpose is to live beyond yourself. Let me illustrate with a story.
Is Your Purpose Greater Than You
Terry Fox was eighteen years old when he discovered he had cancer. He was diagnosed with fast-metastasizing cancer. He settled in his legs and arms and later spreads to his lungs, brain, and liver. After the agony of his new reality set in, Terry basically had two choices: give up hope and wait for death or discover something meaningful for which to live.
He chose the latter. Cancer meant he would lose his leg. As he lay in his hospital bed, he dreamed of running across Canada. That day he made a commitment to make his dream a reality.
By committing his life to make a difference in the fight against cancer, he created a true purpose. The goal of his one-legged run, named the Marathon of Hope, was to raise one million dollars for cancer research.
A New Purpose: Hope
Terry discovered a purpose so great it uplifted him physically and mentally. This power of purpose drove him to remarkable heights of performance. Even though he had only one healthy leg, a prosthesis attached to the stump of his other leg enabled him to run.
While running, he often wore running shorts. This, of course, exposed his false leg and made some people feel uncomfortable. Instead of trying to please the people who were offended, he lived into who he was.
His response was, "This is me, why hide it?" Starting out on April 12, 1980, he ran the equivalent of a marathon (twenty-six miles) almost every day, covering a total of 3,339 miles in only 143 days. His amazing feat provided hope for thousands of people all over the world.
In the midst of cancer, Terry Fox successfully forged a new purpose. His purpose was to help eliminate cancer. His goal was to raise one million dollars for cancer research. He met his goal living into his purpose. When he aligned his everyday living, his goals, with his purpose, he enjoyed the peace of mind and a wonderful sense of being alive.
Becoming Who God Created You to Be
What does that story have to do with you? I am convinced you can do the same. You can become who God created you to be by focusing upon your purpose. As you live into your purpose will you make a difference, a life-changing difference, in the lives of the people around you and the world?
First - Discover Your Purpose
Here are a few questions to consider:
- What are your strengths and talents?
- What do you do best?
- What do you really enjoy?
- Where do you feel you are making a difference?
- What do you care so deeply about that you are ready to give your life to make it happen?
Terry Fox was profoundly touched by younger cancer victims. Those persons spurred him on every day, despite the hardships.
Remember, your purpose is bigger than you and will live on after you. What legacy will you leave for those who follow you?
If you want to explore how to leverage your strengths or help your team leverage their strengths, contact us.
Second - Align Your Purpose with Your Natural Strengths and Talents.
Terry Fox aligned his purpose with something he really enjoyed. He excelled at running, so running across the country became a natural vehicle for him to achieve his goal.
You have unique strengths and talents. Discovering your strengths is part of living your life.
Once you have discovered your strengths, then use your natural strengths and talents to live out your purpose. Remember, the greatest joy and peace of your life comes when you align your everyday living, your goals, with your purpose.
Third - Stay Focused on Your Purpose
Every day Terry Fox stayed true to his purpose. Despite snow, rain, and sleet, he set his heart, soul, mind, and strength on something bigger than himself. In the early stages of his run, there was almost no media coverage. He sometimes felt alone and misunderstood. He overcame that by keeping his purpose at the forefront of his mind.
It is okay to be "focused to a fault."
Too often, you lose your direction in life because you are easily distracted or influenced by other people. Living your purpose requires single-mindedness, a resolve to do whatever it takes. Staying focused will create a deep passion and a sense of significance deep within which will shape your everyday living and relationships.
Remember, it is a compliment to be "focused to a fault," especially when your purpose is assisting others to become who God created them to be.
Fourth - Stay True to Your Purpose
In the later stages of his Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox attracted thousands of people in every major city. His attitude throughout was, "Whom am I among all these people? I am no better or no worse than anyone else. There are a lot of other people involved with this, and they deserve recognition too."
It was this humble outlook and genuine concern for others, plus his never-give-up attitude as he battled adversity, that endeared him to millions of people. Even after cancer spread to his lungs, he was determined to carry on.
Terry never got to finish his run. He died on June 28, 1981. Yet, the ongoing legacy he left continues to help cancer victims. Terry Fox stayed true to his purpose which allowed him to live beyond himself.
So, stay true to your purpose. Don't allow an unhealthy ego to override your good intentions. You will have your greatest and most positive impact on your family, friends, and community because you are focused upon something greater than yourself.
Align Your Strengths & Purpose
Remember, when you align your strengths with your purpose and stay focused upon your purpose, your life will have meaning. You will close your eyes at night with a feeling of fulfillment instead of worrying about all the day-to-day stuff that creates stress and tension.
I don't know what season of life you are living at the moment, but I do know this; discovering and developing your purpose, then living your purpose indicates that you will make a significant difference in the lives of your family, friends, and community.
You will leave a legacy.
So, set your heart and mind upon the person God has created you to be. As you live into your purpose, care for God's people you encounter along the way each day. Give your life in such a way that you live beyond yourself.
Your Next Step
Wondering your next step to grow as a Jesus? Take the quick, 5 question quiz. You'll unlock your "Season" and learn your next steps to grow as a Jesus follower.
As you'll soon learn, two of the Seasons of Following Jesus focus on claiming your gifts and talents and aligning your purpose. What season are you in the midst of right now? Learn more with the quiz.
Rev. Dr. Tim Bias