Paddy Kelly grew up surrounded by music. The tenth child in an American family living in Ireland, he joined his older siblings’ band, the Kelly Family, at a young age. When he was fifteen, he wrote a song that propelled the family to stardom, and the group became a global sensation. With money and fame came great opportunities, such as singing in stadiums to 250,000 screaming fans.
In time, Paddy moved into a seventeenth-century castle. He traveled by private plane and helicopter. His family was near him in his pursuits, and he was never far from their love. Yet something strange happened. Paddy felt empty, lost. The higher he rose the lower he felt. He asked himself a haunting question: “If all this doesn’t make me happy, then what is the sense of life. Why do I exist?”
He eventually retired to a monastery in France seeking answers.1
Joseph Schooling is one of the best swimmers in the world. His youthful face and friendly grin make him a crowd favorite—especially after he won Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in 2016. He’s one of a small group of people who breathe the rareified air of being the best in the world.
But how does it feel to be a gold medalist? According to Schooling, there’s a “feeling of emptiness.” Schooling concedes he didn’t know how to respond to fame and pressure. “I should have taken more time away from the pool,” he said. “I had to change my mindset as I was no longer chasing, I was being chased. . . . I needed to find my ‘why’ for what I was doing.”2
Like Paddy Kelly and Joseph Schooling, millions of people are searching for the why of their existence. Maybe that includes you.
In chapter one I wrote about your dreams and how to build a vision for your future. Your vision answers the “What?” questions: What could my life look like in the future? What do I see myself doing?
Now I encourage you to pursue your purpose. Your purpose is about meaning and motivation. It’s the reason behind your actions and decisions. It answers that nagging “Why?” question. Why am I pursuing this dream? Paddy Kelly knew the what of his life—singing. Joseph knew the what of his life—swimming. But they couldn’t figure out the why. Was it for applause? Money? Achievement? Self-fulfillment? National pride?
Your vision keeps your hopes alive; it’s your dream of a better tomorrow. Your purpose gives you strength to move forward even when times are tough. Purpose stabilizes your life. With a clear purpose, you persevere because you know there’s a reason, a cause.
Do you ever end the day, or the year, asking yourself, “What was all that for? What did I really accomplish? What difference did I truly make?” When you find your purpose, you stop chasing things that will never satisfy you. Instead, you find the joy of pursuing the next steps God has for you.
What if you could close out the day, the month, and the year knowing you’re fulfilling your true purpose and calling in life? Imagine being certain beyond doubt that your efforts weren’t wasted because they were God-conceived, God-directed, and God-honoring.
What Paddy Kelly and Joseph Schooling longed for, Jesus possessed. He knew He was placed on earth for a reason, and He pursued His God-ordained purpose at every step. In Mark 1:38, He told His disciples, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
In John 12:27, He prayed, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”
The apostle John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Jesus knew His purpose in life, and He was compelled to fulfill it. You also can have this sense of certainty to move you toward your goal. You can do what Jesus did, and you can live the rest of your life with no regrets.
How do you discover your “why”? Your journey begins by committing your life to God.
David Jeremiah, Forward: Discovering God’s Presence and Purpose in Your Tomorrow (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2020), xii–xvi.
We have just released a new Bible Study on the book Forward, by David Jeremiah
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.