THINK ON THESE: Finding your life’s purpose

It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, handsome/beautiful or ugly, fat or thin, intelligent or dull, famous or ordinary, married or single. We are here in this world for a purpose.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy,” wrote American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. “It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Unless you know your true purpose in this world, you will never find the true meaning of your life. It’s as if there is always something lacking. There is always that question which needs an answer.

“I shall pass through this world but once,” Stephen Grellet, a prominent French-born American missionary, once said. “Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it for I shall not pass this way again.”

Does the name George Washington Carver ring a bell to you? He was a man who lived with purpose, goodness, and balance. Born as a slave into a family of slaves, he struggled against tremendous odds to finally achieve a formal education.

After years of abuse, Carver did finish his master’s degree and was invited to accept a position with Iowa University . It was a coveted position and no other black had ever been appointed to such a prestigious faculty in that university. Other members of the faculty learned to love him and students eagerly sought to be in his classes. Life was wonderful for him for the first time in his life.

Then, a letter arrived from Booker T. Washington asking George to join together with him in a dream to educate the blacks of the South. After some soul-searching, he resigned for his job to give himself to the dream of Booker. Leaving the comforts of his prestigious position, he traveled to the parched cotton fields of the South to live and work and educate his starving people. People were not only starved for food but for learning and the opportunity to do better. Years of sacrifice and many insults followed but surely and slowly he started to make his mark.

Whenever he was questioned about his brilliance as a scientist, George always said that the good Lord gave him everything. An unheard of characteristic was that he refused to accept money for any of his discoveries and would freely give those secrets to anyone who asked for them or their use!

Three American presidents would claim him as their friend and confidant. Industries would vie for his services.

At one time, Thomas Alva Edison offered him a beautiful laboratory to be built to his specifications along with an unheard of salary in his day, US$100,000 per year, if he would bring his services to the Edison laboratories.

When George turned down the very lucrative and enticing offer, some of his critics commented and questioned his motives. He was challenged: “If you had all this money, you could help your people more.” George’s reply was: “If I had all that money, I might forget my people.”

Charles Fillmore pointed this out: “The value of all service lies in the spirit in which you serve and not in the importance or magnitude of the service. Even the lowliest task or deed is made holy, joyous, and prosperous when it is filled with love.”

Years ago, while unearthing an ancient Egyptian tomb, an archaeologist came upon seeds buried in a piece of wood. Planted, the seeds realized their potential after more than 3,000 years!

“I visualized where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become,” American basketball superstar Michael Jordan disclosed. “I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.”

We are who we are because that is what we want ourselves to be. Some of us would like to become stars but not everyone could reach the “impossible star.” If you cannot be a star, then be a tree that bears fruits. And if it can’t still be a tree, then be a grass. But just don’t be content with being a grass; instead, be the best grass of all grasses.

Don’t be mediocre – even in the work you have chosen. Never settled for less. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds, “We are challenged on every hand to work untiringly to achieve excellence in our lifework. Not all men are called to specialized or professional jobs; even fewer rise to the heights of genius in arts and sciences; many are called to be laborers in factories. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep even as Michelangelo painted, Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Our purpose in this life differs from each other. But we are the ones who shape our destiny. “The human race may be compared to a writer,” Felix Adler once wrote. “At the outset a writer has often only a vague general notion of the plan of his work, and of the thought he intends to elaborate. As he proceeds, penetrating his material, laboring to express himself fitly, he lays a firmer grasp on his thought; he finds himself. So the human race is writing its story, finding itself, discovering its own underlying purpose, revising, recasting a tale pathetic often, yet none the less sublime.”

We only have one life to live in this world. We are here to uplift our fellow beings. We have to follow the golden rule: Do to others what you would like others to do to you. You reap what you sow.

As Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, summed it: “Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.”

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