I enjoy running. For most people that’s a weird thing to enjoy because, frankly, it can be difficult and uncomfortable. What I don’t enjoy, however, is running for no reason. Running for no reason is to subject myself to discomfort, but have no purpose or goal in doing so. Now, that would be weird. When I run, I do it with the purpose of improving my health, my thinking, and my enjoyment of other areas of my life. Sometimes, I do it to train for something exciting, like hiking a mountain. Those goals make running worthwhile. Without a purpose, I probably wouldn’t run very long at all.
If I were to enter a race, my running would be even more uncomfortable because a competitive element would be added, and I’d have to push myself harder than I might do in my normal daily routine. But the purpose of finishing or winning that race would focus my efforts more than the daily routine. The race itself lends me a temporarily higher and more intense purpose. In either case running without a purpose would leave me unfocused, uncomfortable, and unproductive. For example, just ask yourself if you’d go to work if you didn’t have the purpose of feeding yourself or your family?
Purpose actually makes an activity productive. Because of purpose, I stick to my routine, and it produces health, and sometimes even enjoyment. I’ve run in the early mornings, and witnessed beautiful sunrises along the road, or seen crisp and dark morning skies with beautifully twinkling stars against their awe inspiring backdrops. I have good health for my age, in part, because of my running. The purpose of bettering myself through running, has helped me be disciplined in other areas of my life, because I’ve practiced discipline in the physical activity domain of my life. Without purpose I wouldn’t have good produce. Good produce doesn’t grow on its own. It either has to be grown by a farmer whose purpose is to produce it, or acquired from the farmer by a consumer who has worked for money that he can use to purchase it. Never does produce just appear on the table.
To obtain that productivity requires persistence. You can’t just give up. The person who stops running never finishes the race, never wins the prize, and never gets the benefits of the toil. The person who stops working doesn’t get a paycheck. The farmer who stops tilling, weeding, watering and fertilizing doesn’t get a crop. To win the race requires a nonstop, persistent effort. A purpose will give you the ability to persist.
Consider Paul’s famous passage in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where he urges us to live the Christian life and spread the gospel as if we are running a race with the aim of winning an eternal prize and enjoying its heavenly benefits. In short, he tells us to have an eternal purpose, so that we can produce eternal rewards to enjoy when we persist to the end of our race.
What is your purpose? What is it producing? Is it big enough for you to persist to the end of the race? Is it a purpose of eternal value?