Sermons

Summary: Lessons from Nehemiah on how to build a life of purpose

Building a Life of Purpose

We’re in a series called “Building for Life,” and today we’re going to talk how to build a life of purpose. I’d like you to travel with me back to 1940. The place is London, England. The man we’re going to look at is Winston Churchill – a man who lived with purpose.

In 1940, the world was in crisis. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany was overrunning Holland and France. The German advance appeared to be unstoppable. On May 9, 1940, the Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, resigned in disgrace. He had been duped by Hitler and discredited. When he resigned, it was if he threw up his hands and said, “Let’s see if anyone else can handle this mess.” It’s safe to say that the outcome of the war and the future of Europe would rest on the leadership of the new Prime Minister.

On so May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill was summoned to Buckingham Palace to see King George VI. The King stared at Churchill quizzically for some moments and then said, “I want to ask you to form a Government.” Churchill agreed to do so. How would you feel if you were Winston Churchill?

Following his appointment, Churchill met with political and military leaders and advisors, and they put together a coalition government. If I were Churchill, I no doubt would have felt the terrible pressure of leadership at that moment. But Churchill wrote:

As I went to bed at about 3 A.M., I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial…My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.

What caused Churchill to possess such confidence? He was taking over an unprepared country against the greatest military machine that had ever been created up until that point in history. What caused Churchill to experience relief? I would say that Churchill had built a life of purpose. Churchill hadn’t lived an easy life or even a successful life. But Churchill knew his purpose. And through the efforts of one person, strategically placed and courageously living out his purpose, the spirit of Britain turned from despair to hope. And gradually the war was won, not only saving Britain from defeat, but some would claim, in retrospect, saving democracy as a form of government in the world.

This morning I’d like to talk about living a life of purpose. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. Some end up there on purpose. Like Churchill, you have a destiny to fulfill. I know that right now many of you are saying, “I’m no Churchill.” You’re right. But you’re you. And God has placed you here for a purpose. You were put on this earth with gifts, talents, and relationships that are waiting to be exploited to fulfill God’s purpose for you. But the sad reality is, most people do not live a life of purpose.

A man started a hobby of writing to famous philosophers and scientists and authors and asking them, “What is the purpose of life?” The responses he got back were depressing at best. Isaac Asimov wrote back, “As far as I can see there is no purpose to life.” Karl Jung, the Austrian psychiatrist, wrote, “I don't know what the meaning or the purpose of life is but it looks like as if there were something meant by it.” Arthur Clark, who wrote 2001, wrote, “I'm afraid I have no concrete ideas of the purpose of life.” Albert Ellis, the psychiatrist who invented RET therapy said, “As far as I can tell, life has no special or intrinsic meaning or purpose.” Thomas Nagle, “I'm afraid the meaning of life still eludes me.” With a sense of resignation, author Joseph Heller wrote, “I have no answers to the meaning of life and I no longer want to search for any.” Most people do not live a life of purpose.

Welch poet David Whyte wrote: “I don’t want to have written on my tombstone, when finally people struggle through the weeds, pull back the moss, and read the inscription there: ‘He made his car payments.’” You were designed for more than that. God has a purpose for your life. And until you discover his purpose – and follow through – there will hole in your soul.

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