What Is Your Purpose?
- Aug. 27, 2012
- Fritz Klumpp
“You look pretty good,” my high school track coach said to me. “If only you would not run so long in one place!” That was his sarcastic way of saying that like a man in a rocking chair, my running style showed a lot of activity, but not much progress. For many of us, our lives tend to look that way, too. We keep busy, but what have we accomplished? If we have accomplished little, why do we continue to do the things we have been doing?
I have been fascinated with the life of the person known as the wisest man who ever lived: King Solomon, son of David and Israel’s third king. Solomon reigned during the 10th century B.C., presiding over Israel’s golden age. Despite his amazing accomplishments and notoriety, however, his summation of life, from a perspective near the end of his days, was that “all is vanity (meaningless)” (Ecclesiastes 1:2,14).
Looking at Solomon and all he achieved during his celebrated lifetime, I cannot help but ask, “How could one who started so well and did so much, arrive at the end of his life and conclude that everything that he accomplished was meaningless?”
Many of us idealistically start out doing something we feel will give meaning to our lives, but in time we become disillusioned. I have observed this with many who begin careers in the military. They are idealistic, thinking they can help to accomplish important things, but the realities of war can lead to disillusionment. The resulting loss of purpose can even contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The same disillusionment is often experienced by people engaged in politics – or the workplace.
Everyone wants life to count for something; we all desire to live a life of meaning. I have often thought of philosopher Blaise Pascal’s statement about the “God-shaped vacuum” that exists in every person’s heart; a vacuum only the Lord can fill. Author John Maxwell in The Maxwell Leadership Bible refers to another vacuum – the life-sized vacuum that only a life mission can fill.
Solomon’s conclusion that “all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:3) pertains to works done “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 4:7). If meaningful purpose for life cannot be found “under the sun,” then we must look elsewhere; we must look toward the heavens. If we are to find real meaning and purpose, we must look to God Himself.
My longtime friend and mentor, Joe Coggeshall, challenged me for many years to write a “life purpose statement.” “Successful companies have a purpose or mission statement,” he would tell me, “so why don’t you?” I finally accepted his challenge and have since found that considering and putting my life purpose into words has become a compass allowing me to reject the good in favor of seeking the best.
In the Amplified Version of the Bible, the apostle Paul writes, “(For my determined purpose is) that I may know Him (Jesus Christ) – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding (the wonders of His person) more strongly and more clearly…” (Philippians 3:10). As life purposes go, that seems like a reasonable one.
What is your purpose? Why you do what you do? If you do not have a life purpose statement, why not?
Fritz Klumpp and his wife, Ann, live in Ashland, Virginia, U.S.A. He was a U.S. Navy pilot, having served during the Vietnam War, retired after a career as a jet pilot for Delta Air Lines, served several years as executive director for CBMC-USA, and has been in the real estate business. He has a website, http://fritzklumpp.com.
1. Have there ever been times in your life when it seemed despite great activity and much effort, you were not accomplishing much? Perhaps this describes your life right now. Why do you think that has been the case?
2. What do you think of King Solomon’s somewhat dismal appraisal of life – “all is vanity (meaningless) and grasping for the wind?
3. Mr. Klumpp suggests the idea of taking the time to consider your own purpose in life, and then putting that into a formal life purpose statement. How do you respond to that idea?
4. If someone were to ask you today about your life purpose, how would you answer?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:
Proverbs 6:20-23, 14:12, 17:24, 19:20; Ecclesiastes 12:9-14; Matthew 5:16, 6:19-21,33