By MARTIN E. WILLOUGHBY, JR.
Over the years, I like to survey my kids on what they want to do when they grow up. As you might imagine, I have heard many of the normal responses—fireman, policeman, teacher, doctor, etc. What is interesting to me is that most children when asked the same question have the same sort of response. While there are certainly exceptions, including being a professional athlete (which my son Trey is convinced he is going to be), the type jobs they describe are usually service oriented. I believe when we are growing up we have hopes and dreams of having a life of purpose. I don’t recall ever hearing a child say his or her goal in life was to make a bunch of money and accumulate stuff. As we get older, the realities of life set in and dreams are usually set aside to pursue more pragmatic paths.
Rick Warren’s mega bestseller, A Purpose Drive Life, struck a chord when it was first published in 2002. Over 30 million copies were sold, and he reminded us why we are here. Not to be served, but to serve. I know very few people who truly have joy and peace in their life that live self-centeredly. Our flesh wants to be self-centered and it is certainly encouraged by our culture. We are tempted to spend all of our time and money improving the status of our looks, transportation, housing, and travel. While these can all be good things, it is such a challenge to not let them take over the focus and purpose of our lives.
Having lived through financial hardship when our family business went under when I was in high school, I became very focused as I began my career on seeking money and financial security. I still had dreams and ambitions, but they lay dormant while I chased these worldly ambitions. When I became follower of Christ, I started to question this path and wondered if there was a better way. In addition, I was getting older. I had several family members who died young, and I started to question this “deferred life” program I was on. It no longer became acceptable to wait until “Some Day” to live the life of mission and purpose I craved in my heart. I have made many mistakes along this journey, but I have tried my best to get off the deferred life program.
I am afraid that the myth of the deferred life program is alive and well in our society. However, Scripture tells us that we are not guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:14). While we don’t need to be foolish, we need to realize that God has given us the present. How will we live it? Will we be people of purpose, faith, and character today? Or, will we postpone that life to “One Day?” While he was not a follower of Christ, Apple founder Steve Jobs wisely noted in a speech at Stanford that, “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.” He went on to remind them, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
In my executive coaching practice, I often spend time considering with my clients what their true goals and ambitions are in life. To do that, you have to ask the hard questions. It can be uncomfortable, but it is also liberating. Perhaps you could consider today whether you are on the deferred life program. What things are you hoping to accomplish “Some Day?” Perhaps today is the day to start working on making that “Some Day” a reality today!