Finding our life purpose

A Christian Science perspective: What is your job in life?

Haven’t we all, at one point or another, run into questions of who we are and what our life purpose is? These are important to answer, not just for ourselves, but to offer healing in the world today. As the Monitor reported, positive messages are needed to aid those looking for a life purpose, especially young Muslims who are being targeted by Islamic State (see “Winning the hearts of Islamic State’s potential recruits,” CSMonitor.com).

As I’ve prayed about purpose, one healing message that has helped me in my own life has been the idea that our job is to bless others.

It wasn’t easy to understand at first. I was a 20-something, living in a small West Texas town with my parents after some rough challenges. I was not only searching for new work but for a new sense of purpose. After floundering for several months, I called a Christian Science practitioner – a professional whose life is devoted full time to helping those who are seeking healing through prayer – and asked her to pray for me.

Over the phone, she told me: “Man’s job is to bless others. You think about this, my dear, and I will pray for you.”

At first, I dismissed her direction, thinking “she just didn’t get it.” I needed a job, and I felt desperate to get on with my life. I called her back several times over the course of a couple weeks and each time she kindly, but firmly, explained to me that it was my job to bless. Each time, however, I continued to dismiss the idea.

Finally, I called again and told her she just didn’t understand, I needed a job. To which she replied, “No, my dear. You don’t understand. Man’s job is to bless others. Now, you need to think about this spiritual fact, and I will pray for you.”

I hung up in utter frustration. I started pacing around my room, but this time actually thinking about what she had said. Through all the noise in my head, a quiet thought came: “Well, if my purpose is to bless others, I should be able to bless someone right now.” I decided I could at least help my parents, who were at work, by vacuuming the house. As I vacuumed, I thought about all the things I had been learning by reading the Bible.

Christ Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is “at hand” (Matthew 10:7) and that God has endless opportunity available for us here and now. Through his healing work, Jesus broke through all kinds of limitations – including gender, social, and cultural barriers – showing that we are all capable of healing and good work.

My Bible study also showed me that God is Spirit and the loving Father and Mother of all. Made by God, divine Love, we are each made to bless others and express our inherent goodness with qualities such as kindness, intelligence, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Posing the age-old question “What am I?” the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, put it this way: “I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 165).

By the time I had finished vacuuming the entire house, I felt a calm peace. The practitioner’s prayer had awakened my spiritual sense, which shifted my thought from a willful sense of what I thought I had needed to a higher, unselfed purpose. That evening, a friend called out of the blue to say she had just recommended me to a company in Dallas where I was eventually hired.

Such a positive shift of thought is possible for all those seeking a life purpose. Prayerfully asserting that we are all God’s workmanship yields blessings that are both constructive and healing. Not only has God designed us with individual talents, and inspired interests in each of our hearts, but He also opens the way for us to be productive and helpful. As Love’s expression, every one of us is indispensable. Our unique and satisfying purpose is that which is meant to bless others!

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.