Living with purpose


Last week, a friend of mine that I respect, gave me the following quote from Lynn Miller, “Stewardship is the act of arranging your life so that God can spend you.” A great quote about living my life with purpose. Yet, what does it mean to arrange my life so that God can spend me?

Another friend told me about a former boss who was able to bring about significant change in their organization. My friend said his former boss was a driven man but his drivenness was a good kind of drivenness. My own drivenness has had many negative consequences for me and for others and so I was a bit confused trying to put together living purposefully, arranging my life so God can spend me and living with drivenness. Mark Buchanan in his book, The Rest of God helped me think about this topic. Buchanan warns:

“We should be a little uneasy about the pairing of purposefulness with drivenness.” He says, “A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget the purpose. They lose the point. . . . Drivenness erodes purposefulness.” 77

Now, that resonates with me and explains much of my experience with drivenness and burnout. I forgot why I was doing what I was doing!

Maybe I like what Buchanan writes next because it appeals to my sense of time. He writes:

“The difference between living on purpose and being driven surfaces most clearly in what we do with time. The driven are fanatical time managers–time mongers, time herders, time hoarders. Living on purpose requires time management, true, but not the kind that turns brittle, that attempts to quarantine most of what makes life itself–the mess, the surprise, the breakdowns, the breakthroughs. Too much rigidity stifles purpose. I find the more I try to manage time, the more anxious I get about it.

And the more prone I am to lose my purpose.

The truly purposeful have an ironic secret: they manage time less and pay attention more. . .It’s that they notice. They’re fully awake.” 77-78

A few pages later he says, “Purposefulness requires paying attention and paying attention means–almost by definition–that we make room for surprise. We become hospitable to interruptions.” 80

Buchanan asks us, “Think a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions?” 80

I know my answer to those questions, how about you?

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  1. May 3, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Interrupts disrupt every phase of your life. I’d avoid them at all costs.

  1. April 2, 2007 at 4:39 pm

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