You Don’t Need a Purpose in Life, You Just Need to Participate

Trying to focus our lives around a purpose just closes us off to life itself.

What do we mean when we say “Purpose”?

The idea of finding a purpose is so alluring because a lot of very real and very important psychological needs get bundled up inside it. We all need to feel accepted. We all need to feel our work has a positive effect on the world around us. We need to know we have a place among others.

In the market for a good purpose? Come on in, we got the best purpose money can buy!

A big part of Billy Graham’s success was that he was “first to market” with the whole “Purpose” thing. John Maxwell succeeded by opening up a new market with business leaders. Today the market is saturated with people, organizations, institutions, and political groups offering a “higher purpose”.

A Bad Social Contract

“Purpose” has come to be less a term that implies intent or design, and more of an ambiguous social contract. When preachers, politicians, influencers, and overreaching sales coaches talk about “Purpose”, they imply that all the important things you need in life (acceptance, relevance, validation, etc.) can be yours if only you act, believe, and do what they tell you…. Oh yeah, and give them money.

Purpose is a Dangerous Delusion

If this article is your first encounter with my work, let me establish that I am a Christian myself. Not that there are many Christians left in America who would award me such a label (or should I say “right in America”). While I have spent a hearty few paragraphs tracing the origins of our confusion around “Purpose” to Christians, they truth is, that it was never a part of Scripture or Jesus’s teachings.

Living Today Beats Living for Tomorrow, Any Day.

The Greatest Obstacle to Getting What You Need, is Chasing After What You Want

Purpose Comes Like a Thief and Can Only Be Seen in Hindsight

As I finish this article, John Lewis, the life long civil rights activist and congressional representative has recently passed away. No one can question that John lived a life with purpose. It was not because he lived in pursuit of purpose, but rather because he lived ON purpose.

“I say to people today, ‘You must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.”
John Lewis

….You don’t know what your life can be, or what impact it will have, or how it will be remembered. All you can know is what choices you have today. Make good choices and leave “Purpose” to reveal itself in your obituary.

A practical mystic, a paltry poet, and a prolific ponderer. I write about the intersections of mental health, social justice, and Scripture.

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