CHAPTER ONE Understanding Purpose Until purpose is discovered, existence has no meaning, for purpose is the source of fulfillment. It was the moment for which everyone had been waiting all evening. The thunderous applause of the excited crowd filled the air after the mayor made the announcement, 'Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present the annual Outstanding Citizen of the Year award to Dr. Clyde Wilson, Jr., for his distinguished service to this community.' A well-built, clean-cut young man rose to his feet and walked confidently toward the stage. Sitting at the table he had left were his father, Mr. Clyde Wilson, Sr., and his mother, Emily. This was the moment for which they had waited all their lives--to see their son become all they had ever envisioned for him. As pride filled their hearts, they knew that no one in the room could understand their sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and fulfillment. Mr. Wilson had always dreamed of being a medical doctor. While his son was still quite young, the father had told him that he would do whatever it took to see that the son could become the doctor the father had never been. Young Clyde's parents had labored at many jobs over the years and had lived without the conveniences of life just to make it possible for their son to attend medical school and to complete his internship. This evening made those sacrifices worthwhile, as Clyde junior now brought honor and respect to the family. As Dr. Wilson stood on stage, holding the plaque, the crowd rose to their feet. Cameras flashed and shouts of adulation filled the room. Then, as the applause subsided, silence filled the room. Everyone waited for the response of the good doctor. For a moment he stood erect, poised to speak. Then his composure broke and, with tears flooding his eyes, the young doctor pleaded with his parents in a loud voice that mirrored the despair in his eyes, 'Please, Mom and Dad, forgive me. I am sorry, but I can't go on.' Bewildered and embarrassed by the moment, the chairman helped the doctor off the stage. The crowd stood in questioning shock. What could possibly be stealing this great moment from this successful individual? As Clyde and his parents drove home that evening, Clyde attempted to explain to his perplexed parents the cause of his uncontrollable behavior. As his words spilled over one another, he tried to describe the frustration that had built within him over the past ten years. 'Everything I have accomplished and achieved during these years has been done to please you, Dad, and to fulfill your life-long dreams. I have become what you wanted me to be, but I have never become who I am,' he said. 'In spite of all the cars, homes and other material things I now have, my life is empty. I never wanted to be a doctor like you did, Dad. In truth, I hate being a doctor. I always wanted to be a musician, but you and Mom would not allow me to follow that dream. 'Please understand. I love and respect you deeply. I know all you have sacrificed to provide me with my education, and I thank you for it. But tonight I realized that I cannot continue living to fulfill your dreams and expectations. I must start fulfilling my own. When I accepted that award tonight, I felt like a hypocrite. Someone I don't even know earned that award because I don't know myself. I want to live. I want to come alive. I want to be what I was born to be. Please set me free and let me live.' There are millions of Clyde Wilson juniors in our world. Perhaps you are one of them. They are busy, active, dedicated, faithful, famous people who are accepted, respected, revered and admired. But deep inside, they are tired, frustrated, bored, disillusioned, confused, empty and depressed. Their lives are aimless. Day after day they go on smiling, pretending and living up to an identity and a reputation that is different from their true selves. The lie they live and the inner yearning to be freed from the tyranny that binds them are a constant source of internal conflict. Whether black, brown, yellow, red or white, you and I are pulled by destiny toward a meaningful, fulfilling life. This human need for personal meaning and satisfaction is universal. Each of us must discover this personal purpose and pursue it relentlessly, or we will fail to live a rich, whole, meaningful life. Success Without Fulfillment Human beings, no matter who they are or where they live, all want to be 'successful.' This success is usually defined by the superficial rewards that are so glorified by the media: wealth, power, fame, luxury and prestige. The goal of material achievement is drilled into us from an early age. Parents urge their children to work hard so they can be 'somebody.' Schools add to the pressure by using competitive grading and by offering rewards for outstanding performances. Bookstores are loaded with manuals that instruct readers how to get to the top of their fields so they can accumulate power, wealth and influence, and magazines, complete with cover photos that glamorize the rich and the famous, boldly promise shortcuts to success. This relentless pursuit of 'success' has produced some unglamorous results. Divorce and suicide rates continually climb. Violence, environmental destruction and white collar crime plague every community. Emotional depression, particularly in men and women between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four, has multiplied tenfold over the last two generations. The internal benchmarks that denote personal and corporate fulfillment are noticeably missing from our world, and a positive sense of direction that encompasses the totality of life is obviously lacking for the majority of people. This poverty of satisfaction and meaningful existence is no small matter. A professional career and a large bank account cannot provide these absent ingredients. No amount of accomplishments can replace the power and the motivation of finding your own special niche and working toward your dreams. Inner emptiness is the lot of those who lack a clarity of purpose or those who struggle to live up to someone else's definition of success, be it that of a parent, a spouse, a boss or society in general. Reaching the top of the professional or social ladder is meaningless if it sacrifices personal gratification and well-being. No amount of accomplishments can replace the power and the motivation of finding your own special niche and working toward your dreams. As children, we learned to see academic, professional and financial achievements as good, and failures of any kind as bad. Thus, the measures of achievement we received from the previous generations have always been outwardly directed. Success in the eyes of others has been assumed to be personal success, for acclaim from others is the accepted requirement for receiving the 'successful' label. In many cases, the acclaim of others and our personal assessment do not match. Too often, personal satisfaction has been sacrificed to the societal norm of making coincidence, imitation and economic urgency, rather than aptitude, passion and a sense of individual purpose, the basis for critical career decisions. In this, our world has missed the item of true value. Career success does not automatically yield the desired end of personal fulfillment, which is the only true measure of success. Private disillusionment and despair characterize many who have allowed the prescriptions of society to dictate their lives. Fulfilling purpose must be the primary goal of every person. Without a commitment to that purpose, there can be no lasting success. Fulfilling purpose must be the primary goal of every person. What Is Purpose? Everything in life has a purpose. Everyone on this planet was born with and for a purpose. It is this purpose that is the only source of meaning. Without purpose, life is an experiment or a haphazard journey that results in frustration, disappointment and failure. Without purpose, life is subjective, or it is a trial and error game that is ruled by environmental influences and the circumstances of the moment. Likewise, in the absence of purpose, time has no meaning, energy has no reason and life has no precision. Therefore, it is essential that we understand and discover our purpose in life so that we can experience an effective, full and rewarding life. Purpose is... ...the original intent for the creation of a thing, ...the original reason for the existence of a thing, ...the end for which the means exist, ...the cause for the creation of a thing, ...the desired result that initiates production, ...the need that makes a manufacturer produce a specific product, ...the destination that prompts the journey, ...the expectation of the source, ...the objective for the subject, ...the aspiration for the inspiration, and ...the object one wills or resolves to have. Purpose, therefore, is the original intent in the mind of the creator that motivated him to create a particular item. It is the why that explains the reason for existence. Every product is a child of purpose. In other words, before any product is made, there is a purpose established in the mind of the manufacturer that gives conception to the idea that becomes the substance for the design and production of the product. Thus, purpose precedes production. Every product is produced by purpose for a purpose. It exists for its original purpose and thus can find its true fulfillment only in performing the purpose for which it was created. Until purpose is discovered, existence has no meaning. Let us consider, for example, an electric fan. If it were possible for us to enter the mind of the person who invented this product, we might see a desire or an intent to circulate or move air, thus producing a cooling effect. This intent would be established both as the desired end or result and the predetermined purpose for the product, which is the first stage of production. After the purpose of the product has been determined, the second stage of production follows, which is the development of a design to produce the function that will fulfill the purpose. The design dictates the necessary components and materials for production, which is then incorporated into the product's specifications. When all the drawings, specifications and designs are completed and the materials have been procured, production can begin. It is essential to note that the production of the product does not begin until the purpose for the product has been established, and the success of the project is not determined until the product does exactly what its purpose requires. Thus, all things begin and end with purpose. All things begin and end with purpose. This principle pervades all creation. Nature abounds with evidence of this eternal law. The Master Manufacturer of all created things has made all His creations for a definite purpose and has established that purpose as the ultimate definition of success. You and I are products of His purposeful creating. Your Purpose Is an Integral Part of You Like the manufacturer who created the electric fan for a specific purpose, so God created you with a definite purpose in mind. Your existence is evidence that this generation needs something that your life contains. You are the creation that can meet God's desired result. Your existence is evidence that this generation needs something that your life contains. Consummating that purpose does not just happen as a by-product of life. You are responsible for the intentional fulfillment of your purpose so the world may benefit from your contribution, just like millions of people are benefiting from the purpose of the electric fan. In essence, you were born for a purpose and with a purpose. Your personal fulfillment is possible only in so far as you complete your destiny. The discovery of your personal purpose and its relationship to God's universal purpose must be the basis from which you live. You must strive to be who you were born to be. As you discover who you are, you will learn that your purpose, your identity, your uniqueness and your potential are interdependent. You cannot truly 'know thyself,' as the great Greek philosophers admonished, until you discover your purpose. This is true because known purpose reveals the particular components God built into you to enable you to achieve all that He prepared for you. Nothing is truly yours until you understand it--not even yourself. Some people are born knowing what they want to do and even how to do it. The rest of us must spend hours figuring out what to do with our lives. Vague goals such as 'I want to be happy,' 'I want to make the world a better place to live,' or even 'I want to be rich' are nearly useless. We must ask the primary question--'Why am I here?'--and reply with an unqualified answer--'To be myself and to express myself fully.' Concern for doing the right thing rather than a desire to do things right must always guide you. That right thing is the purpose for which God created you and gave you breath. You are special and unique. God made you from an original mold, then threw it away when you were completed. Check out your uniqueness and find out what differentiates you from the billions of people who inhabit this planet. Then pursue your aspiration deliberately and consistently. Be what you are. Capitalize on the natural skills and talents with which you were born, and don't lose them. When others belittle your special gifts and try to remake you according to their plans and purposes, refuse to yield to their domination. Don't let anyone prevent you from becoming and doing all that you were born to be and do. Remember, if you don't deploy yourself, others will soon employ you. Above all else, pursue purpose with a passion and experience the reason for your life. The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. Proverbs 20:5 PRINCIPLES 1. The human need for personal meaning and satisfaction is universal. 2. Personal fulfillment is the only true measure of success. 3. fulfilling purpose must be the primary goal of every person. 4. Everything in life has a purpose. 5. Purpose is the original intent in the mind of the creator that motivated him to create a particular item. 6. Purpose always precedes production. 7. All things begin and end with purpose. 8. God created you with a definite purpose in mind.