For the past several years, I’ve felt pressure to make my life mean something. I’ve spent many hours taking personality profiles, strengths tests, skill finders, and still look in the mirror wondering:
- Why am I here? and…
- What am I supposed to do with my life?
Have you ever asked those two questions?
I remember the first time those questions bounced around my brain. I was approaching my senior year of high school, and was looking for a college that I wanted to go to. I visited several schools, and was convinced that NC State was the place for me. But there was a problem, my grades did not support my choice. Although I was crushed, I accepted the offer from Appalachian State University, instead.
Then I hit another speed bump: what am I going to major in?
I didn’t have time to stress over my major for long because immediately after high school graduation I flew to Romania for the summer. That summer was amazing. Working with, serving, and loving on orphans was rewarding and life-giving. I felt purposeful, important, and like I was making a positive difference in the world. And then I came home.
I got back to the U.S. and within a week sat through freshman orientation. After orientation, school began, and once again I was faced with the overwhelming question of a major. Unlike most college students, I changed my major a few times looking for my perfect fit. And again, unlike most college students — I never found it! Looking back, I am still bewildered that I majored in business — it was the only major that I told myself I didn’t want!
After college, I labored as a marketing guy and struggled to find meaning and purpose in my work. I designed rack cards, brochures, websites, and blogs — and felt further, and further, and further away from my purpose in life.
Finally, I left that job and began working at a ministry, and for a while I felt it — I felt like I was making a difference. But over time, I found myself writing copy for websites, making brochures, and designing stuff that felt devoid of eternal significance or purpose.
And then I came up with the idea of 10 Days Without, and once again I thought I had it all figured out. I was participating in a personal sacrifice, raising money for great organizations that fight real social issues, and sharing my experiences on the blog so that I could challenge others. And yet, once again, after a few months I felt like there was a gap between how my life was and how I wanted it to be.
I don’t know why I struggle with these questions. I’m not sure if it’s a sense of pride — that I want my life to be important because I want to impress people. Or maybe, it’s good to struggle with these questions, and I’m going through a normal process. I don’t have it figured out yet, so I can’t say.
But there are two overarching lessons that I have learned during the past decade:
1. A man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps. (paraphrase from Proverbs 16) and…
2. Our calling as believers is the same for everyone: to love God, and love others every day.
You may be struggling with some of these questions, and if you are — I know how you feel. I know that it’s mentally and emotionally stressful. I know that it consumes your energy and your thoughts. That’s okay. It happens to me too.
But even in the darkest moments of questioning, when we feel like our lives are meaningless or that we are far away from God — we can find comfort and encouragement in the truth that God will direct our steps. I can see examples of God using my business major for his glory in ways I could not have imagined. I can see how the Lord is using my job to open up doors like this blog, and the book to be released in December.
A man plans his way — he should plan his way — but the Lord directs his steps. (Prov.16)
Lastly, the question of calling and purpose can mislead us. It can distract us from the greatest two commandments in the Bible, and make us focus on ourselves. But Jesus gave us all, as Christians, the same purpose and calling. He said,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22)
That’s it. That is our purpose in life — to love God and love others. That is what 10 Days Without is about, and that is what all of our lives should be about.
If you’re like me, you may not find this blog very helpful because it doesn’t answer the questions of a major or what job you should pursue. But, if you’re like me, you need the reminder because it’s easy to get focused on the wrong things.
Do you struggle with the questions of purpose and calling? You may comment below…