The Meaning of Life
How many times have you heard people refer to the age-old question, “What is the meaning of life?” Perhaps you have figured it out yourself. No doubt there are thousands of self-help books and workshops out there you can read or attend, and yet everyone has a different way to arrive at the answer. In more recent years, people I know have been focused on their own life purpose. In fact, there was such popularity in churches over Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life that people outside of churches and Christian circles began to read it and try to make some sense of their own journey.
I read the book for the first time, probably back in the 1990’s, and did an in-depth he study of it with a small group and later with my family. While it has many wonderful elements, my favorite chapter highlights the acronym SHAPE. SHAPE stands for S- Spiritual Gifts/H-Heart/A-Abilities/P-Personality/E-Experiences. As Warren explains, these each help determine God’s will or life purpose for you. The spiritual gifts (which can be identified by a free online inventory) tell you how you may be used in ministry. The heart determines why you say what you do, feel like you do, and act the way you do. Your abilities (such as teaching, speaking, or administration) are your natural talents so that you can accomplish God’s purposes, your personality affects the way you use your gifts, and the five common experiences that influence the way you serve others are educational, vocational, spiritual, ministry, and painful experiences. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. The good news is that the SHAPE plan actually works. At least in my experience, once I mapped these five out, it gave me a clearer picture of my passions and what purpose I could serve here on this earth. The fact that it was aligned with God’s will was just icing on the cake.
As a life coach and lay counselor, I have met literally hundreds of people who still don’t know what their life purpose is and struggle for years, in a vicious cycle. They say yes to everything or the wrong things, and are frustrated. Yet, when they finally are able to pinpoint it, with the help of a good coach, they feel free and grateful to answer the question of the meaning of life, or at least, the meaning of their life.