I was conducting some team-building sessions for a nonprofit organization in Dallas, Texas last Friday when a woman asked me a question; "Does not being in your purpose cause health problems?" The question surprised me, not because I did not have an answer, but because I have never been asked that before. My answer was an immediate, "Yes!" My reason for the answer was, "Because people without purpose have to swallow a lot that is difficult or impossible to digest!"
You may ask, "What do people like that have to swallow?" My answer to that is: "Regret, bitterness, anxiety, boredom, guilt and a sense of meaninglessness" just to name a few. People without purpose or who know but are not doing purpose can often live in daily regret and they work hard to 'digest' that regret - to make excuses - or to self medicate by making false promises to themselves ("next year I am going to do this or that"). That regret, however, doesn't go away. It stays in their system and ventually causes aches, pains and more serious maladies the longer the regret or boredom are part of the eater's diet.
I have written in the past about John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. John Wesley found his purpose and therefore was able to produce "healthy" results. Read this excerpt from Christian History Magazine to see what I mean:
Wesley would preach three times a day, beginning at 5:00 a.m. since workers could stop to hear him as they walked to their daily drudgery. He sometimes covered sixty miles a day on horseback. Weather conditions made no difference; he made his schedule and kept it regardless. He would flee an angry mob by jumping into a cold pond, swim out and go on to preach again. He had the ability to turn hostile people his way. In all he went to Ireland forty-two times and to Scotland twenty-two times.
John Wesley taught as much by example as by his measured sermons. He published many volumes for use in devotions and turned profits into such projects as a dispensary for the poor. His personal life was beyond reproach. He translated hymns, interpreted scripture, wrote hundreds of letters, trained hundreds of men and women, and kept in his journals a record of expended energy that has hardly a rival in western literature.
He made the following diary entry on Tuesday, June 28, 1774:
This being my birthday, the first day of my seventy-scond year, I was considering: How is this, that I find just the same strength as I did thirty years ago? That my sight is considerably better now, and my nerves firmer than they were then? That I have none of the infirmities of old age, and have lost several I had in my youth? The grand reason is the good pleasure of God, who doth whatsoever pleaseth him. The chief means are: 1) my constantly rising at four, for about fifty years; 2) my generally preaching at five in the morning, one of the most healthy exercises in the world; 3) my never travelling less, by sea or land, than four thousand five hundred miles a year.
During his ministry, Wesley rode over 250,000 miles on horseback, a distance equal to ten circuits of the globe along the equator. He preached over 40,000 sermons. Today his followers number 40 million people.
The conclusion: John Wesley's purpose was good for his health - and purpose will be good for your health, too. As you enter another week, ask yourself whether or not you are achieving purpose results that are good for your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Are you accomplishing all that you were created to do, or are you achieving far below your potential? Is it costing you something in energy, causing you to be more self-focused instead of God- or others-focused?
If you aren't happy with your results, then you need to change your 'diet." Instead of a steady diet of regret and guilt, perhaps it's time to dine on the excitment and exhilaration of a life filled with purpose. I pray that you will find ways to 'eat' better purpose food and that you will change the world, just like John Wesley did. Have a great week!