This past week I had a nuclear stress test and the instructions had a suggestion to bring something to read as the whole process takes several hours. Much of that time is waiting between pictures of the heart at rest and after being on the treadmill. So I noticed in my books to read pile was a small book, Noble Purpose: The Joy of Living a Meaningful Life by William Damon. Dr. Damon is a Professor of Education at Stanford University. I took it to the Heart Clinic.
This book is a short book as I finished it during my time in the waiting room during the 3 ½ hours. Even though it was short, the impact of the message was very big in my thoughts. This is one of those books where I feel the world would be a better place if everyone would read it. I truly believe we are created as purpose driven. God has a purpose for each of us. So connecting our interests and God given strengths helps us to discover our career and non-career purposes in life.
I feel the core of his book is found in these statements by the author, “A life built around noble purpose is a life well spent….Commitment to a noble purpose, apart from the good that it produces for the world, endows a person with joy in good times and resilience in hard times.” (pgs. 66-67). That is what living more than ok is all about. In living a more than OK life we need to be following God’s purposes for our lives. What causes are important to you? How does the life you live impact your family and friends for the better?
That word “noble” in the title, I had never thought of before in relation to purpose in life. The author made me realize that we need to reflect over our purposes. My purpose does not have to be at the level of a hero or famous person. The key is -- are my purposes moral? Is my purpose just for selfishness of acquiring as much stuff I can store in my house or storage center? Is my purpose just about money? God centered purposes focus outward from the self to touch others’ lives for the better.
Near the end of the book, Dr. Damon presents 9 principles to help in our building a purpose filled life. I will paraphrase them here. First of all is to start with a purpose. Find an interest or cause you are passionate about and become involved. If you are having difficulty finding a purpose look at the close areas of your life as in your family, your church, social organizations, your career. Wherever you find most of your energy expended is a good place to find a purpose. Next, look for purpose driven examples in others that you can follow. These may be found in a mentor at your workplace or maybe a historical figure you have read about. Another good idea is to look for support from others. Share your purpose with others and see if anyone wants to join you. Or maybe your purpose in found in your religious faith sod in your local congregation you can find others to join you. With following your purpose be wary of perfectionism. There are always bumps along the way to discourage you. Don’t let discouragement defeat your purpose God has given you.
If you are counting -- the next is his sixth principle of keeping a humble heart in following your purpose. This fits well with his concept of noble purpose. To keep our spiritual compass on a moral plane, we need to keep our pride in check with humility. Along with humility then keep a focus on keeping your purpose noble by reviewing the means you are using to reach the goal of your purpose. This is counter culture in a world where the emphasis is use any means even immoral means of lying and cheating to gain your advantage. Staying noble is looking at the morality of your purpose journey from point A to point B. Number 8 is have a thankful heart of celebration for the purpose you are seeking to achieve. This allows for joy in the journey in what you are trying to accomplish in your career or other aspects of your life. Then the last principle is just as in point three, you should look for examples to follow. Principle 9 is be an example yourself to others. Disciple others, especially younger people, in living a purpose driven life so others can have “… a life well spent”.
There is much more than these 9 principles packed into this little powerful book. I again highly recommend it. But more importantly take time to look at your purposes for living your life journey.
Reflection: Take some time to think over what are purposes that are driving your life direction? What is your career purpose? Is it a noble purpose? Outside of your work do you have a purpose or do you just exist? Consider a purpose you would like to follow to have a more than ok life and write it down with plans to follow a purpose driven life.