Friday, March 27, 2009

Passionate Purpose

Last week I had the honor of being part of the teacher interview process at my boys' school. The school is unique in many respects, but one that is most vital to me is that the school has identified a clear and specific purpose. Every decision is made with that purpose in mind. Would this curriculum further our purpose, would this teacher embrace our vision, would this field trip enrich our stated goal for our children? Without a vision it is easy to get off track. And of course, this is the basic premise of Built to Last, the best-selling business book in which successful companies were studied and compared with less successful counterparts. The conclusion was that the companies with "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" fared better. That's not surprising, is it? Having a vision is important, not just for businesses and for schools, but for people.

So what is your big, hairy, audacious, goal? If things like live in a big house, retire early, or travel the world come to mind, let me gently refer you to Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life. By means of introduction and summation, let me just tell you that the first line of his book is, "It's not about you."

To be honest, there is a dark corner of my heart that is disappointed that it's not about me. This prideful corner tirelessly tries to convince me that, in fact, it should be about me--that my happiness is paramount, that life is about my pleasures, my possessions, and my prestige. You are kidding yourself if you think a similar darkness doesn't lurk in your own heart, because it lurks in all of us. As we seek God through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, we can shrink that corner down like some kind of a vile tumor, but we can never eradicate it completely, this side of heaven.

So does that mean we shouldn't have these big, audacious goals? That we should just live day by day and do the best we can. No, of course not. God doesn't want us to just get by. His purpose is not for us to grin and bear it. He wants us to embrace the unique purpose for which we were created, and even more importantly God Almighty wants us to embrace the ultimate purpose of all creation: to glorify Him.

The idea that glorifying God should or even can be a big, hairy, audacious goal does not come naturally. But I am learning that glorifying God is not merely about singing praises and giving thanks, it's about trusting and obeying. God is glorified when in our darkest hour we trust Him. While those around us may complain that life isn't fair, that good guys finish last, that obedience costs too much, that the Christian life is too hard, God is glorified when we stand firm for Him, when we believe and proclaim that God is good, that He loves us, that we are not owed any answers for our heartaches and troubles, that He has a plan for our ultimate good.

Trusting Him is always the answer. And I'm not saying this is easy--that's why it is indeed a big, hairy, audacious goal. But it's a goal that God wants for you and for me, and that's why He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us.

Let us daily remember that "the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 100:5).

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