Outcomes: Purpose

June 19, 2013

When I was growing up, my little sister would sometimes do something”accidentally.”  I’m not going to argue whether or not it really was an accident.  In all likelihood, it was…every time.  Of course as a kid I wouldn’t say that. When my little sister would do something unintentional she would say, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to do it on purpose.”  She wouldn’t say, “I didn’t mean to do it.”  She wouldn’t say, “I didn’t do it on purpose.” She would say, “I didn’t mean to do it on purpose.”  Confusing two legitimate apologies into one admission of guilt, without really knowing it. As a cruel brother, I confess to taking advantage of my sisters misplayed apologies.

What differentiates accidents from other actions is purpose.  And most people go through life in an aimless purposelessness that leads to depression and despair.  Or as Thoreau would say, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”*

As we work with children and families, one of the key flames I  hope we can ignite is a sense of Purpose.  And yes, I capitalized that word on purpose.  When we help people find their purpose then they can live their lives on purpose.  And when they are living with purpose, on purpose, their song is freed from within them.

PURPOSE – Beyond Doing

I don’t know if people use this phrase anymore, but when I made a decision to become a follower of Jesus, the key phrase was, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”  In newer evangelism books and publications it is not nearly so ubiquitous, but there is still that undercurrent of discovering what God wants me to do.  Having gone through the aimless wandering called “the teens”  I longed for a purpose bigger than myself.  Most teens do.  America’s bars and nightspots are filled with adults, young and old, looking for something bigger than the here and now.  Let’s face it most people spend at least some time looking in the mirror and thinking, “There has to be more to life than this.”   As I have matured, I have been acutely aware of the need for believers, as well as seekers, to come to grips with Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. A verse like this is something we can grab a hold of in times of doubt.  But the question has to be raised, if we are going to bring the next generation face to face with Jesus, how do we help children find purpose in their lives? Bigger than sports, or school, or music, or friends, the question will arise in every mind:  “Is what I am doing (as a kid, a teen, or an adult) making a difference?” “Does what I do matter?”  “Do I matter?” One of the most important things we can do as leaders, teachers, and friends of children, is to help them realize their intrinsic worth in the eyes of God.  They matter whether they have accomplished something important or not.   One of the best ways to teach this is to model it.  Kids need to know we value them, that we love them.  Most kids will flourish if they have a loving relationship with an adult or older teen who doesn’t have to love them.  Through this relationship trust can grow, so when we tell a child he can, he will, and he does have a purpose in the universe, he will believe it. The reason we need to help kids focus on all six elements of their journey (Joy, Hope, Imagination, Purpose, Faith, and Love) is to avoid over balance.  Some kids are raised believing that they are the center of the universe.  I believe the reason Calvin and Hobbs was such a popular comic strip, for a full decade, was because Calvin is so much like many of us.  Except we usually don’t let the “Calvin” part of our personality show the way he did.  That doesn’t mean we don’t feel entitled the way he did.  We just hide it better. While building into kids a strong sense of purpose and value we need to be sure that they don’t come to the conclusion that they are the center of the Universe.    We need to build into kids the understanding that it is God, ultimately, who gives them their purpose.  It is God who is the center of their lives and the universe. Understanding that concept will help them lead lives knowing they do have tremendous value, and even more importantly, WHO gives them their value and purpose. How do you build a sense of purpose into the lives of the children you reach?   What is the purpose that drives you?  How did you arrive at that conclusion?  

*Henry David ThoreauCivil Disobedience and Other Essays 

If this post has blessed or encouraged you in any way you could bless me by sharing it with your circle of influence.

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