When something big happens in your life – people notice and ask a lot of questions. Some questions are from curious onlookers who simply want to know the facts. Other questions come from people who are following behind you and want to know the path you have taken. Stepping away from paid employment is a BIG thing – and now that I have done it – people want to chat about life and work. Unemployment is also a form of retirement. So, sharing ideas and information has enabled me to help others. Not through my particularly clever mind – rather I am a “noticer” and collector of great ideas! These ideas are gathered from people, books, ministries and events that have helped change my thinking and life.
Maybe stepping away from paid employment isn’t the path for you. Or can’t be your reality – so what about work? Do you want to find meaning in your work and joy in your vocation? Whether you are unemployed, underemployed or looking for more significance in your work there is hope.
We are created to work and our work can honor God, satisfy our souls, and change the lives of people around us. Does that sound too good to be true?
If you have ever witnessed a child at play, you know that there are moments when their gifts and talents are demonstrated spontaneously. These God-given passions, talents, and abilities often lead to our work. But how do you find work that satisfies?
God’s word provides enlightenment in the Old Testament from the wisest man who ever lived: King Solomon.
That every man finds pleasure in his work- This is a gift from God.
As well, Paul who had an encounter with Jesus shares:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know.…The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do…. to find the idea for which I can live and die.”
Working for success often does not bring us the fulfillment and sense of an idea worth living for, rather it leaves us wanting more. Discovering our strengths and using them to help make a difference that changes the world; that is the idea that Kierkegaard struggled to define. Where do you start to make such a big difference and capture an inner heartbeat that sets the timing for your life?
In most of the western world people have “two lives”. Our first life is the typical work life from 20 to 60 years old. Our second is the 20 to 30 extra years of life. In the developing world like Kenya, where I’ve just returned from, the average life expectancy is 45 years old. Like generations before us, they don’t have the benefit of this second stage of life.
“The 20th century is the first in which substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have real choices about how they will invest their time and talent. . . . Most people are totally unprepared for it.”
Peter Drucker, Renowned Business Expert
If we have no historical framework to base this extra time on what are we to do? How are we to find that one idea we can live and die for? With 5,000 advertising messages high jacking our attention, how are we to know if we are being effective and doing the right things?
God provides illumination, meaning, purpose and hope in his word the Bible.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Movies, novels, and folklore have all influenced what you think about heaven. If you believe in heaven or not, you have some ideas about what it will be like. Every major religion has a view of heaven, but what about Christians? What do they think heaven will be like?
John Eldridge describes in The Journey of Desire, an image I can relate to.
“Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an un-ending church service… We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing –along in the sky,….. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news? And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual.’ We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”
Is that true? What will Heaven be like? Where do we go when we die? We all want to know what the destination after this life will be like.
I believe God has placed within all humans an understanding of the eternal. We all have a sense that we will live forever somewhere. But what specifically happens after death? Where do we go?
Jesus provides illumination in his words of comfort to his disciples before his death.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
In the movie Pay It Forward a fictional social studies teacher gives an assignment to his junior high class to think of an idea to change the world for the better. Then put it in action.
One student passionately contrives a plan of paying forward good deeds for 3 other people. Choose the people do the good deeds. The story unfolds his actions which not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but also starts a wave of human kindness that grows into a national movement to change the world.
A feel good movie that stirs in everyone who watches it the good intentions to put the concept into practice. It’s exciting to think that a small act on our part can have big and far reaching impact. But for many that intention just fizzles – it gets parked along with the other “someday” to-dos. That’s how it used to be for me. But I’ve learned something.
When you watch a movie or read a book it summons a response from you. Some you either love, hate or are unaffected by. You’re engaged by the characters and themes or disenchanted with who they are and the lives they live. What if your life was unveiled as a “story”?
Did you know the most impactful and memorable are based on true-life stories? As Joseph Campbell mentions in The Hero With a Thousand Faces it’s human nature to relate to story.
Up until this year my life story was concealed, shared only with those who lived it alongside me. Most of us share safe “bullet points” – basically demographic information that keeps us in a safe zone because we fail to understand the impact of our own story or know how to live a better story. If you think that you are watching a badly lived life unfold before you watch this 2-minute video called A Better Story.
Learning to live and tell a better story are skills we can learn.
Doing the right thing, for the right reason and at the right time is the sweet spot of success. Sometimes being stretched by too many tasks in life others are making the choices for me and I bet it’s the same for you. We often confuse being busy with being productive with little Margin. Accepting every opportunity, squeeze in one more commitment, one more phone call, one more email. We operate on the principle of scarcity rather than abundance and are tempted to take everything on all at once! Change your thinking and it will change your life.
In ancient times, Moses father in law Jethro was the first life coach and business consultant. Watching Moses exhausting himself judging all the Israelites, he suggested the appointment of others to handle the simpler cases and freeing Moses to judge the complex ones.
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
We talk a lot about growth in our culture. Personal growth, economic growth, population growth and more! In the church these days we use language that is sometime confusing – after all, what does it mean to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I just returned from a Build-Up Conference and it seems to me, we need to shed some light on this phrase.
God provides illumination in the words of Jesus in the story of the Roman centurion who demonstrated such great faith it was preserved as a model in the Bible.
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
Stop looking around, over your shoulder or to social media to find a hero. Look in the mirror instead. You were created for a purpose and your life has meaning. Do you consider doing something unimaginably courageous? You can make a world of difference.
Whether you’re a Christian or not, doing this one thing will make you a hero and make a difference to the lives of millions of people! If you’re a Christian, even better, because we’re called by God to make disciples in all nations.
Three years ago, in a small rural Kenyan village, I saw a glorious thing. A dug well that provided water for thousands of villagers. But horror hit me when I took two steps and was introduced to the graves of the patriarchs of the village. Grandma and Grandpa were buried within feet of this precious water source were decomposing and turning this precious well into a contaminated water source that was killing villagers. The image continues to haunt me.
Sit with a toddler for more than a few minutes and you will discover a repeated question – “Why?” Curiosity, persistence and observation are a toddler’s key strengths. Then we “grow up” and stop asking “why” and focus on “what”. Most of us get drawn into the motions of life without thinking or inspiration. Reactive and missing a framework for understanding THE Story of life we don’t see how life matters or WHY? Where do you turn for inspiration, meaning and purpose?
For me, God provides illumination. The purpose of my life as a believer in Christ is to obey Jesus when He said,
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t imagine? Seriously, complicated or simple our lives can be influenced by what we imagine. Strategically we call this vision. Our vision, passion and purpose are of utmost importance. Most people’s biggest deathbed regrets could have been avoided if they’d thought about vision, passion and purpose.
But what if you are doing your best? Isn’t that good enough? NO! This isn’t about effort or intentions, it’s about your vision, purpose and passions coming together to guide your efforts.
Everyone ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose. Many people spend their days and even lead organizations with only a sense of plodding along and not working with vision, passion and purpose. Are you ready for a change?
God through King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived provides us with truth.
Where there is no vision the people perish
Proverbs 29:18 KJV