“A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder—a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.”

Thomas Carlyle

I recently read about a man who began all of his conversations with new acquaintances by asking this question: “What have you done that you believe in and you are proud of?” Not, “Where are you from?” Not, “What do you do for a living?” Not, “Are you married?” Instead, he would ask them about their top priorities.

Since most people were accustomed to more surface-y type “get-to-know-you” questions, this would often catch them off guard. They would find themselves having to really think about the things that matter most to them. It was especially disconcerting for those who were unsure of their answer to that question, those who were no longer able to see the larger meaning in the work they did.

But this was a rare occurrence. Most people found that, with some careful reflection, they could point to the things in their life that were significant. There was no need for those things to be grandiose. Most people found simple answers:

  • “I am a parent to my children.”

  • “I build furniture.”

  • “I own a small business and I do a good job.”

And the man didn’t feel it necessary to judge the answers. He was more interested in engaging people with the question: What matters most to me? So what about you? What would you say if someone were to ask you that very question this morning? Take a moment and think about it. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. It just needs to be something that you care about. “What are you doing that you believe in?” Try thinking about right now…

Any luck? I hope so. Not so that you can pass some test this morning, but because I want you to be driven by something that matters to you. Also, it might come in handy during today’s worship. That’s a bonus freebie for those of you who take time to read the bulletin article. You’ve got a head start on the others. This morning we’re going to hear what Jesus’ answer to that question would have been. In his Gospel, Luke tells of a trip to his hometown where Jesus, fresh off a vision quest journey into the wilderness, shares his mission with the folks at the synagogue. It’s a stirring one—one that I hope we can adopt in our own way here at Norfolk Church of Christ.