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Your Life is Driven by Something

Everyone’s life is driven by something.


Thomas Carlyle said, “The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.”


None of us want to be a ship without a rudder. In all the talk about purpose, direction, finding our why, we seldom stop to realize our life is already driven by something. If not by purpose, by something else. That is why the conversation about living intentionally, with a mission, or an assignment is so important. If we don’t live on purpose, our life is being driven by a host of other things, like:


  • Guilt. Guilt comes from things we’ve done in our past we wish we could erase and messages other people put on us. Messages that suggest we owe them or sarcastic comments about our progress. Guilt drives us to our vices.

  • Resentment or Anger. Resentment and anger can come from rehearsing the pain over and over. This constant rehearsing hurts us, not the person we resent. Resentment drives us to bitterness.

  • Fear. Fear keeps us from venturing out into new territory which means we miss great opportunities. Fear is attempting to keep us safe but really it is holding us in a confined place. Fear drives us to dissatisfaction.

  • Materialism. Some people are driven not by a mission but by the desire to acquire. They are certain the more they acquire the more security they will amass. The more their financial worth grows, the more they expect their self-worth to grow. Materialism drives us to emptiness.

  • Need for Approval. Trying to please everyone leaves us completely without a rudder — controlled by everyone else’s opinion. The need for approval drives us to anxiety.


This list of things that drive us are not foreign to any of us. We can see times and spaces where we were driven by each of these. The key question is — driven where?


When we don’t have a rudder, something else always drives us. Knowing our purpose, our direction, our design, our why, our assignment for this season (whatever you want to call it) brings:


  • Meaning to our life. Rick Warren said, “The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.” Being led by purpose doesn’t mean we won’t feel guilty when we make a mistake or angry when we are in pain or even fearful when we are getting out of our comfort zone. What it does mean is the guilt, resentment, fear, no longer rule the day.

  • Simplification to our life. When we have a direction, understand our design, accept our assignment for the season, we know what to say yes to and what to say no to. People who don’t know their purpose often do too much.

  • Focus to our life. The colleague who answers email, checks texts, and responds to group messages at the same time she is preparing a report, will never get the report written. She has to focus. If we want our life to have impact, we need to focus it.

  • Motivation. It’s much easier to get up in the morning when we are clear on a meaningful “Why.” It’s even easier to do the things that are hard or mundane because they are attached to something bigger and more significant.


“This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw


Living on purpose is the path to peace.


Here are some questions to chew on: What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want the driving force to be?


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