Meaning before Mission

There's one belief that all humans share, an unshakeable inner conviction that drives some to heroism, others to faith and still others to charity. It pushes us through our bad times and defines our good times. With it, we have everything; without it, we are driven to despair...even death.


Purpose.


To say we each have an inner conviction doesn't mean that we have it completely figured out. I know people who've spent years wondering about their purpose, but never discovering or living it. I know people who don't believe purpose is possible (they think life is a result of evolutionary accidents), yet even they want to do something that validates their existence.


How about you? Do you feel purposeful day-to-day? Do you know what your priorities are?


With the New Year around the corner, many of us take time to consider our resolutions and priorities. But before you do that, why not consider your purpose? After all, life isn't just about what you do; it's about why you do it, and for whom.


Purpose can be divided into two categories: meaning and mission. Humans share the same meaning, but can fulfill different missions. You can open the Bible to discover why you are here and how to live, but your mission is more specific. Meaning deals with the type of person I should be. Mission answers the question: "What task does God want me to accomplish?"


If you're anything like me, you're interested in the mission part of the equation. "What am I supposed to do? Should I move here or there? Should I take this job or not? Should I start this business or that? Where should I volunteer? Where should I donate money? How should I invest my time?"


But I'm convinced that we won't know the answers to any of those "specific" questions until we start obeying the truth we already have in the Bible. Meaning comes before mission.


So, what is the meaning of our lives?


1. We were created for God's honor. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). God's design for us is that we would bring him honor - that the way we live would reflect his image to the world (2 Cor. 3:18).


2. We were created to love God and others. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30, NIV). Jesus said that the most important commandment in the Bible is to love God, to be passionate about worshipping and obeying him. And the second greatest commandment? "Love your neighbor as yourself."

3. We were created for joyful life that is focused on God.
God built the possibility of joy into creation at every level: color, taste, sensation, scent, fun, laughter, marriage, friendship, etc. Just like a parent enjoying his child, God wants to enjoy a personal relationship with us. As God himself said, "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (2 Cor. 6:16, NIV).


As you consider your personal purpose, and how you will accomplish it next year, don't forget the most important thing of all: God's meaning for your life.


Ask yourself:


How is God honored by my life?


Do I love God, and show it by my actions? How do I love my neighbor as myself?


And am I experiencing a life of joy that is focused on God?


Am I being a light in the darkness? How could I begin doing that more?"


Start with this, and you'll be on the road to a fruitful and fulfilling new year. Disregard it, and you'll never know what exciting mission God had in mind for your future.


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I originally wrote this article for the Marco Island Sun Times.

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