Finding and fulfilling your purpose — some might call it dharma — is what life is all about. Yet many people never find the path to purpose, or they get lost along the way, sidetracked by other things, or frozen in place by fear. This is part one of a three-part series, inspired by my dad, about the people and resources I’ve found to be excellent companions to get and keep you on the path to purpose. Part 1 is inspiration, followed by exploration, and finally execution.
As a German-Polish, recovering-Catholic Midwestian, I never expected an evangelistic southern preacher to inspire me to do the hard work necessary to fulfill my purpose in life. I basically equated the phrase “evangelical preacher” with Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, not exactly inspirational. And yet, that’s exactly what T.D. Jakes did through his appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class and Next Chapter, and his book called Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits.
T.D. Jakes on Life Class
Jakes is pastor of The Potter’s House, a “mega church” in Dallas, Texas. While his talks are based on Bible stories, his messages resonate with all human beings, regardless of religious beliefs. Everyone will take something different away from listening to him speak. Here are the valuable messages I gained from listening to Jakes on Life Class:
- If you’re not living your life on purpose, you’re just wasting time. (Guilty as charged.)
- Passion and purpose are partners. (I hadn’t felt either as a driver in my life for quite some time.)
- There’s nothing worse than working in an area where you have no passion, even if you have talent in that area. Talent and passion/purpose are not the same things. (Aha! I have talent for my current job, but no passion.)
- If you’re the person in the room that everyone goes to for answers, it’s time to move into a new room! Go into a room that makes you dream again, think again, read again, learn again, a room with people who make deposits and not just withdrawals in your life. (Definitely time for me to move into a new room.)
- Move into the territory where you have passion, even if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do there. Do something you’ve never done before. Put yourself in an environment that’s conducive to where you want to go. (This is what I’ve started doing, and I can’t tell you how good and right it feels, like being born again.)
- You may need to take baby steps, and wait for the payback. Don’t be impatient. (Still working on this one. Patience isn’t my strong suit.)
- To live on purpose, you have to fully invest, and have courage to take risks. (So true! Without courage to change, we can be stuck in the dreadful no-passion zone for life.)
Jakes on Repositioning Yourself
After watching Jakes on Life Class, I read his book called Reposition Yourself. One of the stories he writes about is that of Jesus instructing Peter – after a long, hard and unsuccessful night of fishing – to go into more dangerous, deeper waters and try again. If my Catholic priest would’ve explained Bible stories like this, I would’ve gone to church every day and twice on Sundays:
“It’s interesting that Jesus tells Peter to ‘put out into deep water’ as if perhaps he has been casting in the shallows. Sometimes it’s easy for us to stay in the safety of shallow water, splashing and casting, wading and wandering around, without ever risking deeper water. We stay in our current position rather than asking for a promotion or applying elsewhere. We resign ourselves to our present relationship even after it’s clear to both parties that it’s going nowhere. The shallow water feels so much safer – we can both see and touch the bottom of the pool. But this apparent security also imposes limitations and keeps us moored in the safe harbor. Just as in Peter’s case, we often have to discover the hard way that the deeper water holds the fish!”
As Jakes explains, to get out into the deeper water and find the fish, you need the right crew on your boat:
“I challenge you to begin to design an environment that is conducive to where you are going. Most of us are stuck because we live in an environment that is based on where we have been. We may even cling to places from the past and ‘retro’ relationships that retard our progress. A healthy environment must include people who will support and encourage you, challenge and stimulate you. …. Do you have the right people around you for where you are going? Identify those who are navigationally right for you and build those relationships.”
Even if you’re monetarily successful, you can’t let that hold you back from going into the deep waters to pursue your purpose:
“Are you willing to humble yourself and do what’s required to attain your goals of success in all areas of your life? Will you allow yourself to act like a kid again, to think outside the box and to go beyond the socially acceptable behavior for someone of your stature? Too often we allow our success in life to hem us in and create a new set of limitations that really aren’t much different from the old ones, only with more expensive taste! We think that just because we can afford to wear an Armani suit and drive a Mercedes that we no longer need to look ahead and see where we need to be next. …. What does it matter what you have to show for your success if who you truly were meant to be remains hidden?”
Jakes’ words inspired me to start living my life on purpose, to take risks, and to move into a “new room” that’s conducive to where I want to go. If you’ve been casting in the shallows like me (and Peter) and need some inspiration to go into the deep waters, Jakes can help take you there, too.