In a 2014 survey, the Barna Group found that three-quarters of American adults (75%) are looking for ways to live a “more meaningful life.”
This simple statistic raises so many questions in my mind—the most obvious one being this: What exactly do we mean when we say that we want a “more meaningful life”?
Certainly, the sentiment carries a sense of longing at its core—a desire, a discontent, a stirring, a striving, a searching…for something we don’t yet have.
But for what?
What gives life that abstract and elusive “meaning” that we crave?
Is it the nature of the work or the project itself? Are some activities simply and inherently more “full of meaning” than others?
Is it the amount of “good” that a task accomplishes in this world?
Is it the size of the job that matters most for “meaning”? Is big always better?
Is it the number of people that the project affects?
Is it the status that we obtain that brings meaning to our lives? A certain position or title attached to our name that means we have arrived?
Is it the compensation we accrue? The validation we receive? The awards we win?
Is it the level of enjoyment we experience along the way?
Or…is our sense of “meaning” simply a fleeting emotional high that we chase over and over again?
Our answers to these questions matter much because—if we are looking to get “more meaning” into our lives—we certainly must understand by what yardstick this “meaning” is being measured.
All the Wrong Questions
As you may have already guessed, I think our collective, American search for “more meaning” is misguided and misplaced.
I believe our desire for “more meaning” is actually a cry for CALLING.
It is a longing to know that we are doing what we were created to do—no matter the nature or size or status of the work. And such a confidence can only come from communion with the One who does both the creating and the calling.
But sadly, even many Christ-followers feel lost and let down in this way. The same Barna study found that only 40% of practicing Christians have a clear sense of God’s calling on their lives.
Why is that? I wonder.
Do we lack understanding on the subject? The Barna report suggests that this could be the case: “Most churchgoers are craving more direction and discipleship when it comes to the theology of calling, especially as it relates to work.”
Are we just jumping on the cultural bandwagon and confusing the popular “search for meaning” for the clear call of God?
Perhaps…because — at its core — the call of God is just this simple…
Draw near to Him. And do what He puts in front of you.
Love Him. And love your neighbor as yourself.
What could possibly be more “meaning-full” than that?
“Having made the love of God the end of all his actions, he found this decision most satisfactory. That he was gratified when he could pick up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him alone and nothing else, not even His gifts.”
Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
This is the third post in a series on how to clarify our CALLING. Read the introductory post here. And stay tuned for more posts in the weeks to come.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and stories on the subject!
I invite you to email me, comment here, or find me on Facebook.