It seems that I have always been on a quest to find “my mission.” As a Christ follower I’ve come to believe that my personal mission is wrapped up closely with my faith in Christ. I’ve also been very interested in how difficult life circumstances are great teachers and that our greatest growth comes from negative turns in our life. Don Miller writes about this extensively in “Storyline.”
Let me share something first about Viktor Frankl’s logotheapy and how it relates to discovering our mission. What he has written has influence a great deal of what I am going to share this week and much of what I seek to understand in my own life. Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy is based on the premise that humans are motivated by a “will toward meaning,” an inner pull to find a meaning in life. The following list of tenets represents basic principles of logotherapy:
Life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most tragic ones.
Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
The human spirit referred to in Logotherapy is defined as that which is uniquely human. Jesus came to be human and identify with us. Although Logothearpy is not a uniquely Christian therapeutic approach it fits well with what Jesus wanted to lead us to understand. God loves us – identifies with us through Jesus – and calls us to become fully “ourselves” and discover our mission in life. Finding that mission is a life-long pursuit. Some will discover it early and some later. Some will identify it and live it through their faith and others will just discover it and live it.
According to Frankl, “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating value in our work or doing that work; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward “unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of the human freedom — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”.
So the pursuit of our mission comes first by hearing what Jesus says to his followers: “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) It is daily learning from failures and the negativity of life and learning more and more from Jesus.
The first step for the Christ follower is to acknowledge Jesus’ humanity and the journey will require the cross as a part of it. The negatives of your past as well as the positives have led you to this point. Acknowledging that the negative turns have taught us more is important. It doesn’t mean we should have enjoyed them or even repeat them but we have learned something.
We should also not fear the future – it holds successes and failure (probably more failures if you are normal). If we are not risking we really don’t know Jesus at all. He will ultimately lead us into risks. Risking will be inevitable – it is the very act of taking up our cross daily. This simply means trying to know Jesus and understand ourselves as human. Humans find value in work and learn the most in failure.
What should I do today to take a step toward understanding my life mission. Just acknowledge your humanity. Think about the positive experiences of your life and the negative and ask, what did I learn from these experiences and how did they lead me to this point? We can only start from where we are right now.