Saturday, May 10

Charting the Course

In my quest for living a purposeful and meaningful life, I have made a recent discovery that should not have come as a huge surprise. I learned that I need to know myself before I can really make any solid plans. Yes, I know that I probably should have understood this need sooner, but, hey, we all have to learn at our own (albeit slow) pace, right? Right.

There are many great resources out there to help people find their way in the the world. People are tired of boring work and boring lives. The pastor at church this Sunday quoted a book calling this the "drone zone." I think I have lived my entire working life in the drone zone. In the midst of this, I hear a lot of people talking about living out their dreams and passions. I am hearing it at church and on the radio and reading it in books. We were meant for a purpose and we hurt ourselves and others when we don't seek out and embrace that calling.

One of the best authors I've read lately is Dan Miller. He encourages people to realize that there is no longer any security in today's workplace and that each of us should identify our dreams and passions and find ways to incorporate that into our work. He says you need to identify your natural skills and talents, your personality type and then your dreams and passions. Where those areas coincide you will find fulfilling work.

The problem I always ran into was that I didn't know myself well enough to do this. I would get really excited about finding my calling and then hit a brick wall when I tried to make a plan. People sometimes say, "find what you'd do for no pay at all and then find a way to get paid for it." This is fine advice if you know what you would do for nothing. You have to know what you like, you have to know in what environments you work best. I really struggle with figuring this out. In the past, when people would ask me what I did for fun, I had no answer for them. I was always so busy and so concerned with fulfilling my obligations that I lost touch with myself.

So the first step in figuring out what God wants for your life is to learn how he made you. Figure out what makes you tick. Certain things make you happy; other things annoy you. Learn that stuff. It's a huge puzzle piece in determining how to have a fulfilling life.

Here's an analogy I'll leave you with. I was part of a garage sale this weekend. In fact, it was my first garage sale. As I walked among the many "experienced" items I spotted something that I could only describe as the top half of a pogo stick. I asked what it was and no one really knew. The discussion began as we began to examine this strange piece of hardware. It had two small handles at the top that came together to form a single, double-barreled shaft. The bottom had 2 prongs sticking down, set about 8 inches apart. Someone said, "Maybe it's missing something." Another said, "Maybe it's broken." We were confused but we noticed that these two prongs at the bottom are hollow. Someone then surmised that this might be a tool to push down into the soil and then plant seeds into the holes that would be left behind. This made sense and we could all see that this tool would do the job perfectly. However, when we put a tag on this item, the only description was "tool, $2." We learned its purpose when we discovered how it was put together. It was no longer just a tool. I believe the same applies to us all. As Shakespeare said, "Know thyself."

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