In his book Forward, David Jeremiah tells the story of swimmer Joseph Schooling, Singapore’s first-ever gold medal winner in the 2016 Olympics.
When Schooling was asked what it was like to be one of the best swimmers in the world and win a gold medal, his reply was surprising.
There’s “a feeling of emptiness,” Schooling confessed. After setting a new record in the 100-meter butterfly and beating Michael Phelp’s record, he admitted that he was unprepared for the pressure of his newfound fame.
“I should have taken more time away from the pool,” Schooling said. “I had to change my mindset…I needed to find my ‘why’ for what I was doing.”
Jeremiah makes the point that many people in the world like Schooling are searching for the “why” of their existence.
As we continue our 2021 theme “Reaching Forward,” based on Philippians 3:13-14, we’re considering ten concepts, one every Monday, and each encapsulated in a single word.
“When you find your purpose, you stop chasing things that will never satisfy you,” observes Jeremiah. “Instead, you find the joy of pursuing the next steps God has for you.”
The ancient philosopher and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius opined that “the true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.”
What are you pursuing? How are you pursuing it? And why are you pursuing it?
Our ultimate goal in running the Christian race is wrapped up in our pursuit of purpose.
If we’re not careful, our good works and spiritual endeavors can become an end within themselves. Like boxes we check off as we complete our daily task list and feel a sense of self-satisfaction.
Daily Bible reading? Check.
Prayed three times today? Check.
Perfect church attendance this week? Check.
Attended a group meeting? Check.
Invited someone to church? Check.
Did a good deed? Check.
While I don’t agree with all of his theology, David Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “You can’t find your purpose in life by focusing on yourself and leaving God out of the picture. Life isn’t about using God for your purposes. It’s about God using you for His purposes.”
Let that sink in. “Life isn’t about using God for your purposes. It’s about God using you for His purposes.”
It’s possible for us to ritualistically engage in spiritual activities, that please us and make us feel good, without truly pursuing God and seeking to please Him.
As Jesus predicted his death on the cross, he prayed, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (Jn. 12:27-28).
Jesus came to fulfill the Father’s purpose. Likewise, as we follow in His footsteps, we are called to pursue and fulfill our purpose in life.
In a general sense, God’s purpose for every person is to obey His Word. To commit your life to Him. To love Him. To serve Him. And to serve the needs of others. This is truly pursuing the two great commandments (Matt. 22:35-40).
Specifically, each of us has different talents, abilities, and skills. Some are five talent people. Some are two talent people. And still others, one talent people (Matt. 25:14-30). Whatever gifts we possess, we are to use them for God’s glory to the best of our ability (1 Pet. 4:10-11).
However, as my friend and preaching colleague Gary Henry wrote, “Even with admirable pursuits, we need to make sure we’re pursuing them in a principled way.” This speaks to our “why” and “how.” And reveals the motivation underlying our ministry.
Reaching forward spiritually demands a pursuit of our eternal purpose. A pursuit both of a knowledge of God and a relationship with Him. And a pursuit of righteousness motivated by divine love.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman.