I have chosen to do this piece out of a need I perceived in my interaction with people, especially my younger friends and to be precise my students (those in Benkum Senior High School, Larteh-Akwapim).
In most of our conversation, this subject popped up inadvertently. Usually, it surfaced each time the question of future career direction and personal ambition came to the fore in such discourses.
I do not claim to be an expert on this subject matter – in fact, I am learning myself. I am doing this primarily because of the reason I alluded to early on viz., helping out friends and younger ones for that matter.
There are a few questions to address as I attempt to make a contribution towards Purpose, Achievement and Fulfilment.
Purpose is simply the reason for which something is done or for which something exists. Other words or synonyms include aim, ambition, aspiration, bourne (also bourn), design, dream, end, idea, ideal, intent, intention, mark, meaning, object, objective, plan, point, pretension, goal, target, and thing. Why is it important for a person to be purposeful? It is because by our nature, we are designed for fulfillment. We want to do or become something that gives us a sense of completion, which is Achievement, and pleasure.
This could be as silly as a little boy shooting at lizards and toads and killing them for the fun of it. Hitting those helpless creatures is the fulfilment of the little boy. It could also be as sweet as a little girl conceiving and executing a room décor or a doll’s dress. The magnitude of the mission accomplished is not as exciting to purpose as is the achievement of the goal one sets out to do. So, even a terrorist seeing innocent hundreds perishing in a planned bomb-blast gets a high because it is his set target. He has succeeded; he has an ACHIEVEMENT to his credit.
But away from the terror, if you have a Christian point of view, then a few Scriptures should help our discourse. Let’s begin with John the Revelator, he writes in Revelation 4: 11
“…for Thou [God] hast created all things, for thy pleasure Thy are and were created”
Straightway, the understanding for me here is that EVERYTHING God created was created with a mind that it should produce pleasure to God. This is the intention behind everything God created. And you would recall Genesis 1: 1 says:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
And Psalms 24: 1 (amongst other Scriptures) says,
“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein”
But moving away from ALL things in the general sense to Humans (Man) in specific, the Bible says
“And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after our likeness: and let them have DOMINION…”
Paul the apostle also writes,
“…We are His workmanship [Products], created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2: 10)
Lest I lose you, let me do a quick explanation and a midway summary. God made all things including you as a human. He did so to have pleasure. And to have that pleasure, there’s an assignment(s) [“Good works”] God attached to each of our lives to execute while we are on this side of eternity called LIFE. The ultimate of this is to have DOMINION is in essence is to bring a purpose to a head, that is to SUCCEED or ACHIEVE.
So then, if we are products made by God, we have a specific purpose (or assignment) for our existence, in the same way that a toothbrush maker makes that product with specific plans or ends in mind. If we find out our reason for being, and succeed in executing it, we find joy and an inexplicable sense of satisfaction. And until we come to that point, LIFE wouldn’t make the kind of sense or significance we desire. Living and Life itself would be pointless. It is at this point that some contemplate SUICIDE, or adopt unhealthy lifestyles such as DRUG ABUSE, ALCOHOLISM, SEXUAL PERVERSION etcetera.
By now, you’d notice that Knowledge is key in this endeavor of finding Fulfillment through Purposefulness. It is so because until you know WHY you are here on earth and WHAT it is you are here for, doing or being those things doesn’t even arise. Thus, in my contemplation, I have come to understand that there are four (4) personalities or entities every human being MUST KNOW. In decreasing order of importance, they are:
Scriptures says “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM: and the KNOWLEDGE of the Holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9: 10) and Psalm 36: 9 “…In Thy [God’s] light shall we see light”.
Who you are is not your name. Danso is my name, Engineering is my professional training and African is my race. All of these are either changeable or changing. Who I am, is my Purpose by Design (I’d come back t this very shortly).
#3: MAN (Humans)
You need to understand human beings first and foremost because our assignment or purpose in life affects men and we live on this planet with men. They would either end or hinder us in our pursuit. And finally,
#4: The devil
“…We are not ignorant of his [the devil’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2: 11)
Our arch-enemy, the devil, is a formidable but defeat-able opponent. Martin Luther King in his hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, he writes
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate –
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He!
Lord Sabaoth is His name,
From age to age the same;
And He must win the battle.
So our first ingredient in pursuit of purpose is Knowledge. Know GOD, YOURSELF, HUMANS and The devil (and I must credit Reverend George Adegboye from whom I learnt this).
Thus knowing and walking with God is not an option or an activity reserved for after retirement. It is not an ex gratia package bequeathed to God. It is integral to our living on this planet. Serving God is not to be left to old age. The smartest guy ever to live on the surface of the earth wrote:
“Remember your creator in the days of your YOUTH…”
“Fear God and keep HIS commandments, for THIS IS THE WHOLE DUTY of man” [Ecclesiastes 12: 1, 13]
Knowing yourself means knowing what we are designed to do. Just as the toothbrush – the bristles, handle and entire curvature tells us exactly what that little device is designed to do – our makeup gives us a clue as to what we are designed to do.
In our case though, our physique isn’t all there is. In fact, in some cases, that isn’t relevant. The core of our purpose by design is in things like, what we love or are passionate about; what we dislike, hate or are disgusted about; what tickles or stirs our fancy or fantasy (your “wild” dreams); what we do effortlessly etc.
If you are able to tell the things you hate from what you like, and can identify your passion, then choosing a career path would be much easier. By the way, don’t lose breath if you are having difficulty with this. Purpose is always unfolding; we know a bit at a time. Progressively, the picture gets clearer.
Let’s come to a closure by answering the question HOW DO WE CHOOSE A PROFESSION OR CAREER? And lest we confuse ourselves, the two words though often used interchangeably do not always mean the same. A “career is the progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person’s occupations. A career is often composed of the jobs held, titles earned and work accomplished over a long period of time, rather than just referring to one position”[i] [meaning that you could switch severally]. A “Profession on the other hand is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain”[ii]. It could also be seen as “a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science:”[iii] for example, the profession of teaching.
Hence a profession is formed or arises when any trade or occupation transforms itself through “the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship, and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights.”[ii] This also means that career is the summation of all of a person’s work pursuits; while a profession is the training(s) such a person has received with a view of using them for work purposes. In choosing a profession, I hold that as much as possible, every person should go along the path of our passion (what we love to do or hate to see around us).
Often when asked, I hear people say, “I’d like to become a Lawyer, Journalist, Doctor, Nurse, Dietician” etc. I have noticed that these answers are only a reflection of the magnitude of the range of their horizon. If you have never heard of NASA or aeronautics, it isn’t likely you’d mention Astronomy as a profession to pursue. In addition, I see that the society also influences our thinking, in that if we find a set of people, say Doctors and Artistes having all the wealth and fame, then it is likely people would gravitate in that direction.
All of these are wrong approaches in choosing a profession. We should simply identify our likes and dislikes; look into yourself and identify the things that excite or disgusts you. It was Dr. Myles Munroe who once said, “Your JOB is what they pay you to do. Your WORK is what you were born to do.” What irritates you gives a clue as to what you have a passion to change. In the same way, the things which excite you (even if it’s a fantasy) give an indication as to what new thing would be coming through you. That is being yourself, and the easiest thing to do in life is to be yourself. When these have been identified, then the subjects or courses that fit these interests should be pursued, period!
Having identified these, another thing to look at is your world. The question to answer in this consideration is: What would I love to change, contribute or add to this planet (this side of my world) before leaving?
I often hear people say things like, “I want to build an Orphanage” and the like. Hearing this gives me the sneaky suspicion that a good number of those who say so would never do it. And this is not because they are unfaithful; it is often because for the vast majority this is sounds like CHARITY, something that would make God happy – almost like PENANCE. They think (in some cases) that it should make God happy with them. Some even think that becoming a Missionary, Priest or Pastor (Man/Woman of God) is the ultimate. This is by no means so.
Human need is God’s priority, and human needs are vast and varied. So, every time a legitimate human need is met, God is pleased. If human need is bread, Bakery is a ministry (service); if human need is water, Plumbing, Civil and Hydro-Engineering is ministry; if human need includes healthy eating, Food Technology, Cookery, Catering, Dietetics and all such is ministry; if human need is laughter or fun, then Music, Artistry, Comedy etc are God’s work; if baby needs are human needs, then Babysitting, Nursing and the like are as ministry as being in the Clergy which by the way answers the human need of connecting with God.
Having said this, let me add, and here I’m quoting someone, I believe it was either Dr, Myles Munroe, Dr. Mike Murdock or John C. Maxwell who said “Money is a reward for meeting human needs”. In summary, on this point, if you recognize and meet human needs based on what you’re designed or wired to do, you would be doing God’s work and you will definitely be rewarded with CASH – that simple.
I have tried to delineate these facts about Purpose, Achievement and Fulfillment. I do not think I have said all that must be said about the subject. But as I said at the beginning, I did this piece to meet a need. I hope to get cash off it, but one thing is sure, I do not hope for it, if I have been of help then I already have it – I’m fulfilled! Are you? Let’s Talk…
NB: All Scriptures quoted are from the King James’ Version of the Bible unless otherwise stated. Also, all emphases and annotations are mine.