One trend I’ve noticed in men lately is a complete lack of purpose. I don’t say this just to take a potshot at my gender mates. I say this because we crave direction and goals and lately I’m seeing a fair lack in both of those categories. Let me describe for you the purposeless male. He sees only what is directly in front of him. He acts on the immediate without any thought to what might come next. He gives himself entirely to his feelings, doing what seems right in the moment. He can consume hours with aimless activity: video games, TV shows or YouTube videos, eating, drinking (more than water) or just simple nothingness, for lack of a better description. When you look in his eyes you see emptiness. When you talk about deep things, he quickly diverts the conversation. He has no purpose and he knows it.
As prevalent as this kind of lifestyle is, it is fortunately still embarrassing. Guys don’t like to admit the spiral they’ve adopted. It’s shameful for a man to admit he spends 20 hours or more a week playing video games or watching videos. But it happens. And we know it happens. Is there anything we can do to jumpstart a guy with no purpose?
A large company might answer, “Give him a job and work the snot out of him!” A job rarely supplies purpose. It’s hard to find direction while working on a line doing monotonous work. A career gets closer, but he’s got to buy in and that requires strong leadership, which is something else that is in solid demand. A wife might answer, “Unplug the TV and make him wash dishes!” That sounds good and gets some chores accomplished, but honey-do’s won’t give a guy purpose. They will just occupy his time. The Church might say, “The guy needs Jesus!” But in reality, many men who know Jesus are in these shoes. Is there hope for this guy?
Yes! The answer doesn’t lie in more activity, but in his heart. The question of purpose begins with love. What does this man love? The answer is, he doesn’t know. He will tell you he loves God (if he does and sometimes if he doesn’t!). He will say he loves his family and his wife. Jesus says the mouth speaks out of the heart. I’ll add the hands act out of the heart. If there are no words and no actions to prove his love, it isn’t there. What is there is a love for the aimless. Some might call it laziness, but I think it is deeper than that. It is a love for what might be; fantasy hopes. He is a man in waiting. He’s hoping for the next big break. He’s looking for a way to make some money, because SO MANY men believe large amounts of money will fix everything. He’s holding out for the better job. He’s tried a hundred careers and can’t decide on one, so he waits. And while he waits he occupies his time…well, with nothing. He is wandering.
If aimless living is obviously connected to worthless love, what kind of love is required to get a man in gear? The answer lies in creation. God created us in His image. He breathed His very own life into us and set us to work in the Garden. Man lacked no purpose there! We were made to work the soil, tend the animals and care for the creation. Our purpose came in interacting with God and living out the details of life with Him in this world He made for us. Really it was a pretty simple gig. We’ve complicated it with resumes and 401k’s. We get so wrapped up in the idea that purpose requires a list of plans and directives that we’ve forgotten who we are. Simply put, we are men who were made to know and love God and make Him known in a world that has forgotten that. And that is something we can love.
When a man’s heart gets involved, everything begins to change, and when you connect his heart to the One who made him, some pretty cool things start happening.
When a man loves the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, he begins to see the world around him differently. He sees his wife as a gift from God and not a nagging bother. He begins to see his kids as treasures made in God’s image, just like he has been made. He looks at his hands and sees an opportunity to create something and he jumps. He’s not reactionary anymore, so he doesn’t always jump quickly, but he will act. He will get a break to do something productive and he will take it. He will see a chance to serve, to help someone, and he will take it. He will begin to see the world as a kaleidoscope of opportunity rather than a black hole of nothingness.
Jesus gives us the best example here. He was never hurried or rushed. He walked with purpose in each step. Some of His days (and nights) were spent alone on a mountain praying. He sleeps and eats and hangs out with His friends. But, He was always moving toward the goal of knowing God more and making Him more known to those around Him. He knew the direction in which He moved was right.
If you crave that kind of purpose and direction, know that it is as close as a prayer. Ask your Maker to begin to instill in you more purpose than you can find on your own and see what He does. His answer will be simple for sure, but it will also be akin to heart surgery. Give Him your love and see what He gives you back. I promise it will be more than a video game controller.