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The Pathway to Meaning

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Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm. (Proverbs 11:17)

The vast majority of us want to lead a meaningful life. When I was in high school, I had to address my childhood interest in ministry. I met with my pastor and I shadowed him one whole day. He let me know about the challenges of manipulative people, the long hours, and the low pay most ministers endure. Thankfully, he continued to share. He said, but the positives out way the negatives. If you go into the ministry, you will be able to wake up every day, knowing you will make a positive difference in the world. You will be able to provide others with hope and offer faith in God. Then he said, besides, you get to eat lunch whenever you want!

I chose to live a meaningful life, doing the thing that means the most to me: honoring God. You do not have to make ministry your occupation to honor God and live a meaningful life. The talented writer, Darius Foroux, in his article “To Live a Meaningful Life, Remember This One Thing” writes, “To live a meaningful life, you must know that one thing is true: What you do already matters.” Even when you feel you are just going through the motions, you are interacting with people, making some type of difference. Foroux challenges, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” Every interaction, sometimes even a glance, can be positively or negatively impactful. You can make a difference even when you feel you aren’t doing the right job, or have the right attitude, or the right life. Even with all those not-rights, your life can be meaningful!

Foroux helps me explain this when he says, “What you’re forgetting is that happiness is a byproduct of usefulness.” Even when things are not perfect, or when they do not feel right, your usefulness in the course of your day can bring meaning to your life. Having everything just right isn’t as important to life as bringing a sense of usefulness to the experiences of your everyday life. When you bring warmth, care, and integrity to your daily tasks, meaning will not be far behind.

Today, ask God to address the life you’ve been given. Walk through an average day, struggles and all, and together with the Holy Spirit, envision the ways you might have been useful in your work, and useful in your interpersonal interactions with others. Kindness is a powerful means of being useful. If being useful brings meaning to your life, the simple act of kindness brings a life of meaning. You could be a rich businessperson, a healing doctor, or a minister, and not provide as much meaning as you can in your daily interactions. Focus less on the title or job description and focus more on the kindness you offer to others. Not only will others benefit, but a meaningful life will be yours!