When I was young, young children were encouraged to dream of being firefighters or policemen, nurses or mothers. In the last twenty-four years, that ideal of heroism has been exchanged for a much lesser goal. Just last semester, a student in my English class wrote that his goal in life was to be the life of the party. Other students aspired to be couch potatoes, hipsters, and gamers. In my younger sister’s dual-credit Literature class, the selection of short stories she is reading exemplifies this life: an existence void of heroes, hope, or purpose. Its no wonder her appreciation of literature is dying as quickly as the wondrous world of Narnia was locked in the frozen clutches of the White Witch. Such is the effect of a drifting generation.
I cannot take credit for this term. Dr. Dusseau, a wise elder and the adult moderator of the college and career group I’m attending made the comment during tonight’s study that today’s generation (including myself) is indeed a generation of drifters. When he was in college, students attended classes for a purpose, unlike the aimless students drifting their way through his college statistics class over the last eighteen years. A piece of wood floating on the open sea is unlikely to reach any predetermined destination, and, unfortunately, unless we as a generation stop drifting and start thinking, we too will be floating through life with no destination and no purpose.
Christians especially need to consider their ways. Scripture is packed with the lives of men and women who “considered the measure of their days,” and lived with a set goal. And their goal wasn’t to throw parties, get fat, or play video games all day. Men like David, Elijah, Moses, and Paul did not become “Heroes of the Faith” by accident. They aimed to know and love God and they lived their daily lives with that goal in mind.
For the last few years, I have identified my life purpose with the cliche phrase: Love God & Love People. When I write in my journal, sit through a sermon, or read a good book, those four words resonate in my heart. But when I play volleyball, teach uninterested students, or honk at the slow driver in front of me, I typically do a far better job of loving myself than I do of loving God or people. Business planners and fitness coaches refuse to leave a client alone with an ill-defined or immeasurable goal, because they know that such goals are rarely accomplished. Instead, successful businesses create maps beginning with a specific purpose that branches out into several long and short-term benchmarks. These benchmarks remind the individual or business that there is a bigger picture at hand, and allow them to measure their progress towards meeting that. “Doc” encouraged the college and career students to do the same with our spiritual aspirations.
If we desire to emulate the lives of faithful men and women who are nearing the end of their journey of faith, we must have a plan to get there. If I put a picture on my wall of a girl with defined muscles and a six-pack, but make no plan to eat healthy and work out, I will never ever resemble that image. The Christian walk is no different. Paul ended his life by saying, “I have fought well. I have finished well. I have kept the faith.” What am I doing right now to be able to say that as my final words?
After some thought, I redefined my mission statement to read: My life purpose is that Christ would be known and glorified in and through my life as I strive to love God and love people as He first loved me. In the next year, I specifically want to focus on four areas. (1) Patience: I want to be unconcerned with my time, so that I see waiting as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. To achieve that, in the next three months, I will aim to state three things that I am grateful for each time that I become angry or impatient. (2) Prayer: I want to be characterized by prayer, taking each concern, joy, or decision to the Lord first and faithfully. To reinforce a habit of prayer, in the next three months, I will use my daily driving time to talk to God, using a small 3×5 “talking points” card for the days of dryness. (3) Pride: I want to develop humility, where I become forgetful of self, not thinking of my wants, complaints, or accomplishments, but instead seeing conversations and challenges as opportunities to make God known and know Him more. In the next three months, I will seek to honestly admit when I don’t know the answer and, when in disagreement with another, instead of arguing to maintain my image of being “right,” let the issue drop. (4) People: I want to learn the skill of effective and engaging conversation by asking questions and being sincerely interested in the lives of others. To begin this process, over the next three months, I will initiate a conversation with at least one person each week. By focusing on patience, prayer, pride, and people, I hope to lay the foundation for continued growth in faith, character, and love.
After all, it is nigh time I align the compass, adjust the sails, and adjourn drifting. I have somewhere to go and right now is the time to start getting there, or I will never make it! Who knows, maybe I’ll start eating right and working out too.