Purposeful Living and Thinking

James Allen wrote, “A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts.”[1] We live in a time of great distractions and it is very easy to get caught up in these distractions and lose focus of our life’s purpose. If we give free reign to these distractions, our thoughts and words will delve into gossip, complaining, worry, and fear to name a few problems.

Life is short. Why spend time and energy on things that have no purpose? Why should we spend our limited days getting caught up in the drama of others or allowing pettiness to rule our lives?

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV).

The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus echoes the same sentiment, “Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your aspirations no matter what is going on around you.”

In order to set ourselves on the road to purposefulness, there are three areas we can address.

Minding Our Own Business

 “…And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV).

God has a different plan for all of our lives because God has gifted each of us differently. After His resurrection, Jesus taught this lesson to Peter. Jesus explained to Peter that he would die a martyr for Christ.

“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved [John] was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.’” (John 21:20-22, NIV, brackets mine).

In other words, Jesus told Peter, “Don’t worry about John. Focus on what you have to do. You follow Me.” This is certainly a lesson we can apply to our lives as not to be resentful of someone who is called to a different and maybe greater purpose.


Let Go of Worry

As much as we try to be “control freaks” in our lives, there are numerous things out of our control such as the weather, the economy, what other people think. We also had no control of what country or family we were born into, whether we grew up rich or poor, or how long we will live. However, we can be purposeful by working on the areas within our control. We cannot do anything about yesterday and we are not guaranteed tomorrow, so we must make the best of today.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27, NIV).

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34, NIV).

Be Thankful

Once we stop being resentful of the past or worrying about the future, we are able to live a life of thankfulness. We can be thankful that God has given us another day to live. We can be thankful for the people in our lives. If we are thankful about what we have, we will not grieve over what we do not have.

“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-21, NIV).

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, NIV).

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).

It is not too late to begin living a purposeful life. Our thoughts determine our focus. Our thoughts shape our character. Just as lifting weights and exercising can change the shape of our bodies, so to must we change our thoughts in order to properly shape our minds and lives. God bless you all.


[1] James Allen, As A Man Thinketh. New York: Barnes and Noble (2007 edition): 33.

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