12.09.2008

My Ten Purposes in Life

At the end of every year, in spite of (and, I suppose, because of) the
typical holiday rush, I try to make time to review the year, in terms
of major milestones and lessons learned. So as to see if my life
priorities have lined up with my daily schedule, I map what I've been
up to against what I want to be about.

On that note, below are my ten purposes in life, which I put together
earlier this decade. Different from goals (like "I want to visit all
seven continents" or "I want to learn a new language") or manifestos
(like "change the world" or "help somebody today"), purposes to me are
distinct expressions of what one understands to be important in life,
unique to the opportunities and talents one has been given to work
with.

I'd like to say that most if not all of these are influence by my
Christian faith, by my read of the Bible, and by the example of Jesus.
And, additionally, those influences are themselves influenced by my
childhood and upbringing, my educational and vocational experiences,
those people who God has put in my life to help shape and mold me, and
other subtle and not so subtle mechanisms by which my Maker has made
and shaped me.

If you know me, please let me know how I'm doing on these fronts, and
whether these represent the best use of my time, personality, and
skills. And whether you know me or not, please chime in as to what
these statements below mean to you, and/or if you have your own
purposes that in sharing them can help clarify what I want to be
about. Life's short, and there's lots to do and experience and enjoy;
let's help each other live the best lives possible, for the greatest
good possible.

1) Be fully allocated. My dad taught me to hate waste, and I've lived
that out to a fault in terms of time management. I probably should
have more down time built into my life, but there's so much I want to
do. I have to remember that the Creator commands rest, and does so for
our good.

2) Blaze a new trail. What's the fun in doing what's been done
before? Better to launch off in a different direction, learn
something new, and tell good stories. This way is way more tiring but
also way more exhilarating.

3) Broadcast good news. As Christians, our primary calling is not
just to live good lives but to live them in such a way that it
announces to the world the good news that is embedded into such a
life. My aspiration is that, amidst the messiness of our world today,
and my growing groundedness as I experience more of that messiness,
yet still I can convey a sense of goodness, possibility, and wonder.

4) Champion and shepherd others along. If life is a journey, it's not
a solo one. We are meant to be fellow sojourners, and the richest
lives come when we walk together. I think of the "Ascent" psalms
(numbers 120 to 134), which were sung by God's people three times a
year as they climbed uphill to Jerusalem; let us also do life
together, singing about joy and sorrow and hope and fear and danger
and rescue along the way.

5) Cross-pollinate between religious and secular. One of my
favorites, straddler that I am. It's fun to shake up both sides with
language and perspectives and causes that they're not used to. Of
course, oftentimes all that means is being misunderstood and
mistrusted from both ends, but who's looking for friends?

6) Give God room to come through. No less challenging even after so
many years of God picking up where I fall short; if anything, I've
gotten worse in this realm, experiencing greater anxiety instead of
deeper peace when I'm at the end of what I can do and am still a long
way from done.

7) Learn, savor, and live God's word. My times in the Bible may have
gotten earlier, shorter, and sleepier, but I still do like studying
it. I haven't been as diligent, and thus there's a lot I've unlearned
that I now have to relearn, so there's still a freshness about the
task on my better days.

8) Love the unlovely with Jesus. I am ever challenged by Jesus'
priorities, in terms of who he spent time with and what he valued. My
roles and gifts find me doing more planning and policy-setting than
doing, but even in that there's the challenge and opportunity to be
mindful of the marginalized, disenfranchised, and impoverished.

9) Mistakes, delays, and losses are opportunities. I am becoming more
acutely aware of how my healthy pursuit of competence and success can
run in opposition to much of how the God of the Bible teaches,
blesses, and uses His followers; and of how rich seemingly awful
seasons can be with rewards and improvements. Each year, may I
embrace more wholeheartedly the good that there is in every instance
and season of suffering.

10) Synthesize, document, and disseminate life lessons. Who knew
blogging could be so useful to the Kingdom of God? Individual
stories, pregnant with meaning and instruction, multiplied over the
blogosphere by faithful saints taking the time to share those stories
and what they learned in the midst. Having read many such accounts, I
am encouraged to record my own, in the hopes that I can help myself
and others.

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