Tag Archives: purpose in life

Purpose and Meaning; the difference matters

I often hear people say, ‘What’s my purpose in life?’ or, ‘What does life mean?’  purpose

It’s helpful to not confuse purpose and meaning. Purpose is about intention. It’s an interior motivation that directs our choices toward an end. Meaning is about effect. It’s an external conferring of value to things we have done.

Many of us are so desperate to make our lives ‘mean’ something that meaningfulness becomes our purpose. By confusing purpose with meaning this way, we end up spending our time desperately trying to control our life’s effect. If our lives are characterized by frustration, disappointment, intensity, depression, et al, then we probably have done just that.  The truth is, we can’t make our lives meaningful.  As Stonewall Jackson famously said, ‘Duty (commitment to purpose) is ours, the consequences (effects) belong to God.’ In the end, what our lives will have meant will be determined by others.

However, we can make our lives truly purposeful. We can decide to live our lives according to a different intention. Historic Christianity claims that the primary purpose of humans is to enjoy harmony with God.  Living according to this intention leaves little room to obsess about the meaningfulness of our Selves. Now, to be sure, it is satisfying to be recognized, to be successful, to achieve. But as Jesus said, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God (harmony with God) , then all these other things (the satisfactions of meaningfulness and more) will come to you.’


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Why Get Out of Bed?

in bedWHY GET UP IN THE MORNING? It seems like time simply gnaws away at our lives one day at a time, leaving us little to show for our efforts, even our best efforts to accomplish good things. Looking at life this way can be frustrating and very discouraging.
A friend of mine and former nun from Scotland wrote a profoundly wise response to this: “Dear David, ultimately the important thing is not what you achieve for God but that you receive God’s love, that you love God, and that you love those around you as well as you know how. This is how you live as a Christian.”
Three awesome reasons to get out of bed!


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