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Purpose-driving to nowhere

The top-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life” contains a lot of wisdom and has changed many lives. Type A people like me love the title. “What’s the point of following Jesus if you never do anything with you faith?” we ask. It’s a fair question. But it must be balanced against Rich Mullins’ que…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The top-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life” contains a lot of wisdom and has changed many lives. Type A people like me love the title. “What’s the point of following Jesus if you never do anything with you faith?” we ask. It’s a fair question. But it must be balanced against Rich Mullins’ question, “Did you love somebody?” Because that’s the whole point of our purpose-driven lives.

We Americans are by nature more purpose-driven than almost any culture. Europeans take an average of something like five weeks vacation a year. We always seem to be in a hurry to go somewhere. We are task-conscious.

By contrast, most other cultures (Japanese and German cultures are obvious exceptions) are more relational. Purpose and identity are often defined by relationships. We need to see how culturally circumscribed we are.

A task-orientation that ignores relationships is as bankrupt as a navel-gazing, existentially focused life. Both exist at either end of a continuum and reinforce the old dictum: balance is good.

Comments (5)

  • I agree, we are a purpose-driven culture. The real question is: what purposes we are driven by, and how we acquire these life-purposes. I think that PDL is an invaluable book in that it articulates clearly and concisely 5 divine purposes to organize your life around. So many believers have allowed the culture to define our purposes. In Warren’s terms, I think that our culture’s default purposes are as follows:
    Worship: living for my pleasure
    Fellowship: loving myself
    Discipleship: becoming like my idol.
    Ministry: serving myself
    Evangelism: promoting myself
    Sounds like the wicked, lazy servant in Matthew 25. This culture needs a book like PDL.
    What do you think?

  • Hey, I’m just happy to know that anybody bothers to read this blog I just started. Blogging is easy enough, but getting people to read your stuff feels like self-promotion. So I’m left wondering, “Is it better to blog out into thin air with no readers, or to beat my chest and declare to my friends, ‘hey, look at me, I can blog!’”

    s

  • Don’t worry Seth… you have plenty of faithful readers. =)

    When thinking about PDL, my task-oriented nature just lights up (fellowship – check! ministry – check! Now, just need to get a little evangelism into the schedule and I’m all set…), until my skepticism kicks in… (where exactly in the Bible does Jesus lay this out to his disciples, hmmm?). The purposes laid out in Warren’s book may be useful tools to evaluate our spiritual condition, but I don’t think our culture needs a book like PDL as much as a renewed devotion to The Book itself. Why settle for a simplified, highly-marketed version of truth, when we can go straight to the very Creator and Source of purpose in human existence?

  • Seth, thanks for the assumption that we who are a bit longer in the tooth would comprehend a blog.

    Our little church recently completed 40 Days…Our small group found it quite impacful; for me personally one of the things I took from it that I need to devote myself intentionally to making God smile.

    Blessings of the New Year

  • to me, our relationship with Jesus should be more art and romance than science. we should be more head over heels for God. true relationship with Jesus comes from intimacy, not a bulleted list of steps to achieve his love.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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