What does shoe shopping have to do with finding purpose? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s start by picturing yourself in a large shoe store, very similar to the store shown below:
There are rows and rows of shoes with different colors, sizes, shapes and materials. As you peruse through the rows of shoes, you begin to see certain styles and colors that appeal to you. Selecting a few different shoe styles, you begin to try them on, one by one, to see which fits most comfortably. You begin asking yourself, which shoes look the best on you, and which shoes best fit the purpose and reason for their purchase?
Finding purpose, is a lot like shoe shopping.
As we described earlier in this site, Purpose is a deep rooted set of values in which you believe that what you are doing is worthwhile and will have a positive and beneficial impact on others and society. Purpose in Life is the foundation in which all else of a fulfilled life and impactful career is derived. People that have a greater sense of purpose in their lives, resulting from a heightened level of self-awareness, tend to perform to greater extents than their counterparts and are more fulfilled and happy in their lives. Purpose in Life begins from a very intimate, vulnerable understanding on one’s self, including one’s skills & abilities, personality & behavior, passions & desires, as well as a willing and prayerful heart for God’s direction.
From my years of working with college students and in higher education administration, I have found everyone’s process to find purpose is very different. However, I have noticed a particular trend that involves focusing on these areas: (1) skills & abilities, (2) personality & behavior, (3) passions & desires, (4) a willing and prayerful heart for God’s direction.
No one, apart from God, can find your own purpose in life. It is up to the individual to start their journey to see what skills & abilities, personality & behavior, passions & desires they have, and then begin to see what shoe fits. All we can do is take others to the shoe store, provide advice based on our own experiences, and point them in the right direction. The size, style and color is up to the wearer.
If you decide to take this journey, you will encounter some very hard and sometimes scary truths about yourself. However, it is in those moments of vulnerable self-awareness that you can understand what experiences (both good and bad) that have shaped you overtime. I encourage you to map out your skills & abilities, understand your personality & behavior, and cultivate your passions & desires — then bring this all back to God and ask Him what He wants you to do with it.
The bible tells us in 1 John 5:14-15 that if we have confidence to ask in His name and in His will, our Lord will answer us.
I encourage you to begin the journey to understand purpose, you need to start to mediate and “unpack” these areas about yourself.
It’s time to go shoe shopping!
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I have spent the last few years pondering the purpose for Higher Education, specifically the reason for the University. I have considered this reason and can find no better definition than by citing Colombia Professor Andrew Delbanco’s purpose for the university; a place where students are shown how to think and how to choose.
I believe the setting for the American university must be a place where challenging discussions are encouraged, where critical ideas presented and new experiences relating to knowledge are passed onto students. An important component to encourage this kind of environment should be academic freedom — the freedom for discussion, the freedom in teaching and also in research, all in the pursuit of truth.
We must encourage our young students to engage in critical discussion, self-exploration and other measures in order for them to independently learn how to think and how to choose. What better place for this discussion to take place than at the University.
I have come to believe that all pursuits for truth will ultimately lead to one final destination, the understanding that all wisdom is inherently derived from the one true God, who by the grace of Jesus Christ, can we fully have a relationship and understand our purpose in life. I strongly believe that the encouragement for academic freedom also encourages faith in God, rather than refute His existence. Therefore, I consider academic freedom, guided with a belief in the one true, living God and of Jesus Christ, to be of critical importance to that of the university.
I believe that higher education will loose a powerful transformative component if it is not linked to that of Christian perspective. Furthermore, students who are discouraged away from the ideas of faith and the search for purpose, which can only be found through Christ, are lacking a massive piece of their education.
I am reminded of the quote, “Wisdom in knowledge, rightly applied”. You may attain a tremendous amount of knowledge at the University, but what sense does that knowledge have if it is not rightly applied through an understanding that all knowledge ultimately comes from and is used in service of God.
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How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalms 1:1-3
This is a strong tree with roots that dig deep into the ground. It is filled with never ending streams of water as it is planted next to a lake. This trees’ leaves and branches extend powerfully in many directions, giving shade and shelter to the plants and animals that surround it. This tree is alive, it prospers and bears much fruit.
An abundant life can be found in the word of God. Just as the strong and beautiful tree here, which is planted next to streams of water, we too can prosper and not wither if we are firmly planted next to the streams of life, which is found in the Bible.
Just as the tree in the desert, far away from water, without the word of God, we too will wither and die.
Which tree do you want to be?
Let’s focus our hearts and minds onto His word. Just as the tree planted by streams of water, we can trust in His plans to prosper and grow us strong.
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