This post speaks universal truths, which is why it certainly falls under this blog's central theme of "meaning before money, purpose before planning."
Also, at a time of national tragedy, we need to dig deeper within ourselves, to move beyond the superficial lights and gifts, to connect and reconnect to the spirit of others, and to reflect on life's meaning and purpose. This reflection is more than a question of what to do but one of how to be...
For example, when people ask, "What would Jesus do?", what are they really asking? More importantly, what is the answer? This question is so famous it has its own acronymn (WWJD?). But in the opinion and observations of your humble author, most people completely miss the underlying message, which may be the most powerful and life-changing for the individual and for the world, regardless of religious orientation.
In my forthcoming book, to be published early 2013, I address the same question at length. Here's an excerpt from the chapter on life-purpose:
Consider the popular Christian creed, "What Would Jesus Do?" It is too common, that by focusing on the word do in this question, that some may overlook a greater guiding purpose. There is nothing wrong with virtue and morality, what some call good deeds. However, if one is to really do as Jesus did, they will not focus first on life-actions but on life-purpose. To do as Jesus did, one’s life-purpose will be a guiding force for all actions: Purpose leads, actions follow.
If you act virtuous just for the sake of being virtuous—religious for the sake of being religious—you may overlook your purpose for living on earth because you focus too much on how you exist and too little on why you exist. You may find redemption but lose yourself along the way—a paradox.
I humbly submit to you this: To serve God is to fulfill one’s life-purpose, not just to fill one’s life with good deeds. As Jesus said, "No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house." Your purpose is the lamp; and it is only the authentic Self that can produce the light, whereas many act as if the light produces the lamp; the action is placing the lamp well. Again, purpose leads; actions follow.
Ask the question a different way: What would Jesus not do? He would not tell you to ask another person what they would do and then plan life accordingly; instead Christ, or any other great leader, might tell you today: "Find your purpose and fulfill it; this is what I did; this is why I was successful; and this is what you can also do."
Christ's message is universal; it is spiritual, not just religious. His example is a shining light that benefits anyone and everyone, regardless of religion or life philosophy. Define things for yourself and stop leading your life by abstract meanings, social conventions, and financial pursuits.
Be your own light. Focus first on be; then the do will take care of itself...
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year and best of anything and everything you celebrate. 2013 will be the year you shine your light brighter on the world.
image by Shannon