Rabbi Harold Kushner writes: "Our souls are not hungry for fame, wealth, comfort, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning. For the sense that we have gifted out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world would be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it."
What meaning does your insides crave? How do you want to make a difference in this world? How can you uniquely add value to others. What skills do you have that could help other's lives transform? How can you be significant?
I believe everybody has a purpose and has an ability to find it. Why am I convinced of this? Because every person was created to do his/her part to better this world. Every person is given talents that will help better others. Every person is given an opportunity to better others. Every person has a purpose that they were created for. And everyone has to look inside themselves to discover their purpose. That includes you.
Some people were born with a sense of their purpose. I think Dolly Parton was one of those people. Not long ago, there was an article in Guidepost Magazine about Dolly. From the time she was a child, she knew what she was meant to do. In the article, Dolly says, "I put a tin can on a stick for a microphone, and jabbed on end in a crack on the porch of our cabin, and sing a song that I'd made up. All at once those weren't our chickens listening to me out in the yard, they were an audience full of people clapping and cheering." Dolly sang at every opportunity she got, and performed on the radio when she was just a kid. As a young women, her talent was quickly recognized in Nashville, and she soon started performing with Porter Wagner. Her WHY was fueled when one of Porter's musicians gave her a book for her birthday: The Power of Positive Thinking. "He knew how to talk to a country girl like me. Dream big, think big, pray big. Lord, I thought that's just want to spend my life doing!"
Maybe you already have a strong sense of your why, just like Dolly. If so, you have a great head start on your life of impact. But, if you're like most people, you would be grateful to have some help figuring out your purpose. And I want to help you with that. The process begins with asking questions, and listening for the answers:
How can you add value to others?
When you can identify that, you'll begin to understand your purpose. This question will be the foundation and fuel of every act of impact in your life. Living a life that matters comes from your ability to add value to others. This is where impact starts.
Three Clues to Your Purpose
1. What do you cry about? What breaks your heart? What disturbs you? What inflicts emotional pain? What causes you so much discomfort that you are motivated to take action and bring healing to that situation? Think back to your personal history, your childhood, social justice issues, the last thing you got emotional about, or the thing you always get emotional about. Any of these can be clues as to what makes you tick, and they can help you identify your purpose.
2. What do you sing about? What makes you happy? Puts a bounce in your step? Makes you jump for joy? This is deeper than mere entertainment. This is what gives you a deep sense of joy and fulfillment. There's an old hebrew phrase, "tikum ulum", which means 'repairing the world.' This is a beautiful way to see our work. No one should live in this world without trying to find some way to make it better. That's a perfect way to think about living a life that matters: doing acts of impact brings deeper satisfaction than doing any other work I've ever known. And that's the key to transforming the world. Author Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "the purpose of life is not to be happy...its to make some difference that you have lived and lived well. When you live like this, you'll discover your greatest source of joy.
3. What do you dream about? This is the question that brings in the "WHAT IF?" factor. What if...you could do anything to make the world better? What if...you could make a difference on a larger scale? What if...you could do something that would impact others and outlast you?
My heart breaks when I see people fall short of who they could be. And so many people today live broken and unfulfilled lives. But when I see others, I see their greatest potential. I see them as tens in the making. My overwhelming desire is that they see that too. It weighs on my heart, and I feel a responsibility to help people in this area. To inspire them to change and grow toward who they were created to be. That responsibility weighs on me every day. And that means I'm always conscious of my calling: to help people find meaning and mission in their lives.
I want them to shake off the mental and emotional shackles, and run the race of live, with excellence and excitement. And any time I can help someone do that, it fills up my heart, and makes me think: this is why I'm here. I'm here to hold a mirror to people and help them realize their unique value and their God-given potential. I want to use my voice to call people to live lives of impact; to put into words people's unspoken longing to make a difference in the lives of others; and to let them know it's within their reach. I believe I'm supposed to empower people to do work that matters. To make a positive impact in their lives and in the lives of others. And today, nothing makes me happier than to see people intentional about making a difference.
Now look at your personality, your abilities, your passions, and your experiences. You were given the canvas, the tools, and the paints. It's up to you to paint the picture that your life will look like. No one else can paint the picture for you. The brush is in your hands. Act with prayer and intention as you choose the colors and make your strokes. What could your picture be? What do you dream about? If you could accomplish anything in the world that would make a difference in the lives of others, what would it be? If you could do anything you wanted, and knew you couldn't fail, what would you do? If you could live out your wildest dream, what would it look like? The process of allowing yourself to dream big things is good for you. It helps you understand who you are. And WHY you are.
You may not know your whole purpose at once, but as soon as you understand the direction you're meant to go, you're well on your way. After that it's just a matter of refining you're why. And I hope it continues to grow, evolve, and sharpen.
Remember, you were made to make a positive difference in the lives of many.
Uncover your purpose.