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Passion – Building a Sustainable Lifestyle

Friday again… the day when I take a step back from the details and work of the week to gain a better perspective on where I am and where I am going. Hopefully this will help you take that step back as well to examine your life and work and determine whether or not you are heading in the direction you desire.

I was blessed to be able to spend some time over the past few days with a dear friend from out of town. During one of our conversations I was reminded of my goals and plans for my life and what I am reaching for. I realized that while I have spoken a lot about reaching your passion and purpose through your business, I have not really defined the end game and goal of all that I do and what I am encouraging for you to find for yourself. I wrote 2 weeks ago about a sustainable lifestyle and defined it in brief, but would like to dig a little deeper and share my focus and motivation and what I see as the end game for me.

So, what is a sustainable lifestyle? Let me start out by pointing out the obvious that there is no such thing as a sustainable lifestyle because the fact is that we will all die one day. So life cannot be sustained as we define it here on earth. However, it is your last day on earth that I would like to propose as the most important day of your life and the one where you will most likely understand clearly whether what you have built your life to be was worth it, or what I would like to call a sustainable lifestyle. I would challenge you to imagine yourself on that day as you read and seek to define what it is that you are working for.

Dictionary.com defines a sustainable life as “able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds,” and a sustainable system as “pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability.” A sustainable lifestyle in my definition is a lifestyle that supports the healthy functioning of an individual and family in society through actively pursuing one’s purpose and talents and supporting others in doing the same.

The key factors I see here are purpose, passion and talents (should go hand-in-hand as your talents or gifts usually arise out of passion or result in passion as you find your purpose in life), activity and work, and family and community.

Purpose, Passion, and Talents

I have written about finding your passion in a previous post, so I will not go into it here. But what I would like to point out is that I believe every person on this earth has been given talents and giftings and a purpose in this life. No person is without this purpose, and it is through fulfilling your purpose that you find fulfillment and passion. My faith is such that I believe God’s words from Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

It is my belief that God is the One who provides us with gifts and talents and has set our purpose on this earth. When we walk with Him and and allow Him to direct our steps, we will walk in our giftings, talents, and purpose and find a passionate life.

Whether this is your belief or not, I would challenge you that the principle remains whether God is behind it or not. The evidence of such can be seen played out in the lives of every person – whether walking in their purpose and finding their passion, or not doing so and being depressed and hopeless.

Activity and Work

A sustainable lifestyle is not one of no activity – no activity is evidence of a lack of life and a lack of sustainability. So my definition of sustainability is not one that means that you do not work. Instead it means a lifestyle where your activity and work is an outflow and fulfillment of your purpose and passion. This means that you truly want to do what you are doing – that you can’t help but go and work and be active. It is also evidenced when completing a task or project by the sense of fulfillment and satisfaction you receive. This satisfaction is the evidence of a sustainable lifestyle as Solomon speaks to in Ecclesiastes. Solomon is the richest man on earth at this point and is looking back on his life and all he has and has done and says the following:

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Ecc 5:18 (NIV)

Work is part of a sustainable lifestyle, but not work that drains you or stresses you out, but work that is enjoyable and satisfying along with being challenging and difficult. This lifestyle also supports the hard work and provides the energy and environment in which to work.

Family and Community

Just before I came to this section, my daughters came into my office and asked to play for a minute. I went out into the living room and enjoyed some laughter, cuddles, and love from my little ladies. This could not have happened if I didn’t take the step toward a sustainable lifestyle for myself and was a perfect example for what I am describing here.

This last dynamic is what provides the context for your purpose and work. Family and community provides mutual support and enjoyment in life, and a sustainable life cannot be lived outside of the context of a healthy family and a vibrant community. In community, you both give of your time, energy, purpose, talents, and work to provide for others, and you receive the time, energy, purpose, talents, and work from those around you. It is in community that you find specialists in different trades, and in community that you can support the arts and more creative talents and giftings. In a community, each person can find and work at his or her talents and giftings in a way that supports the others in community and makes their work able to sustain their livelihood.

For example, a homesteader who lives 5 miles from the next house and 5 hours from the big city has to be a generalist and a jack of all trades out of sheer necessity. He or she has to be able to farm, hunt, build, repair, have a wide array of knowledge and skills because there is no one else around to help if they can’t do it. Come into a small town and you find the general trades are taken care of and people are able to explore other activities. Move into the big city and if you don’t have your niche and specialty, you won’t be able to find work or keep your business going due to the competition in the general spheres of work.

So community provides the ability to focus on what your purpose and a means to build that activity into a livelihood. But the other aspect is that we are social beings with a need to give and receive love, affection, and support to one another. Your purpose and your work finds its fulfillment and meaning when you provide for your family and for those in need. When you give to those around you and find support and love in community, you find the fullness that is the most important part of a sustainable lifestyle. If you neglect this aspect, you could very well find yourself at the top of the ladder with all of the money and success you want, but no one to share it with or who cares.

For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:25 (NASB)

Living with your Last Day in View

When I imagine myself on my last day on earth, I see myself surrounded by family and close friends that I have shared my life with. I feel a sense of satisfaction in the work I have done, knowing that I have pursued my Lord and His purpose for my life, and that my last day on earth is only the beginning of eternity with Him. I regret the moments I missed being too busy and caught up in things that don’t matter, but am thankful for every cuddle, kiss, smile, and “I love you” I have shared with my wife and children, and for every person whom I have impacted through word or action who has come to know true life.

What does this day look like for you? Is what you are doing now moving you toward or away from where you want to be on that last day? If so, share with me and those around you what you are doing and why. If not, what are you going to do differently?

Now my little ladies want me to join them in the pool… so after all of this, why would I say no? I won’t get this moment back and I don’t want to miss a smile!

Keep Reaching!

Mark

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