Is There a Down Side to Living a Life Of Purpose?

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Is There a Down Side to Living a Life Of Purpose?


here is this saying that you need to wear your scars as badges of honor. They say that you would rather a scar than a wound. A scar is in the past and you have already dealt with it thoroughly enough. It is healed and the pain forgotten, but the lessons keep simmering.

If you have been alive for a minute, you will notice that living comes with a package of opposition to your comfort. You now have to fend for yourself to breathe, and even if others take care of you for the first several years of your life, responsibility is normally thrust fully on you on how your life will turn out.

Living a life of purpose is even a steeper call than ever. Nearly all “Motivational Speakers” will challenge people to “follow their hearts”. What they are saying simply is that you ought to find your purpose and live to see its fruition. That is the only way you will find fulfillment in life, they say. I am one of them and I totally agree. Our message though tends to speak and say that there could be nothing on the down side of purpose. We tend to package our message as if all will be well and smooth when we live a life of purpose. We could be wrong.

The Greatest Down side

I have spoken nearly each day of late on the subject of purpose. Today, we need to examine what comes with the downside of it. Does it mean that when you have discovered your purpose in life, all will go well with you? It reminds me of Christians. There is this lying statement that goes something like this:

“Just come to Jesus and all your troubles will disappear”

OH! What a hefty lie that is. It would be the same thing extended to purpose. A life of purpose is no guarantee for smooth sailing and trouble free existence. It has it’s down sides that we shall discuss today.

  • Ask TD Jakes, and he would tell you
  • Ask Billy Graham, he will confide with you
  • Ask Neil Armstrong, he will share with you
  • Ask Abraham Lincoln, he will share with you
  • Ask MLK, he will inform you
  • Ask Mother Teresa, she will chat with you,
  • Ask Hellen Keller, she will let you know

And when you are through with asking, all these great souls, they will all tell you the same thing. The greatest downside with purpose is never living to fulfill it. In other words, the value of a life of purpose far outweighs the costs that you will incur as you pursue it. And believe me, the costs of a life of purpose could be so steep. Here are some of them:

1. Self Doubt

“I am worthy of this goal?”

“Do I have the correct skill set, clout, knowledge, experience and networks to do it?”

“Wont people see my defects? Am I even capable of doing this seeing all my failures and goofs?”

Those are some of the questions that you will face with as you pursue the life of purpose. These initial questions sadly have killed many a visionary and relegated them to the life of mundane living and existence. Marianne Williamson  said,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure….we ask ourselves “Whom am I to be gorgeous, brilliant, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God”

This down side of purpose must be overcome immediately it shows up, incessantly until it is totally vanquished in that the delivered is now the ambassador of hope, helping others see their greatness. Self doubt left to simmer easily affects the purpose itself, asking its very validity on the face of the earth. It is a very dark side of the pursuit of purpose.

2. Misunderstanding

Jesus was not understood by his family and his clan. Even His disciples found it so hard to keep up with his philosophy and ideology. Do not ever expect everyone to understand you as a visionary. Sometimes it pains so much. Purpose and vision are stronger than what people call “love”. I have “loved” some girls in my life, but when it was evident that they cared nothing about my vision and pursuit in life, I have had to let them go. So painful it is. Misunderstanding is so intimate in the times when those who are closest to you are the ones who do not “get you”. They do not understand why you should be “suffering” in your startup while you could go get a job and earn “assured” income every month.

At its best, for purpose to survive, misunderstanding should lead to separation and in adverse cases, divorce. Please note that I am not necessarily talking about marriage here. The point is that you cannot go on a journey of purpose with people who do not want to be on it. Either they will slow you down our cause you massive distress. Some misunderstandings are because of feelings of inadequacy on their part, fear for you based on a false sense of love and care, and at times, it is genuine love and care that leads to a misunderstanding. Nevertheless it is a massive price to pay.

3. Rejection

Much as with misunderstanding you can “fire” the people, with rejection, you are the one that they fire. When Steve Jobs had a misunderstanding with the people at Apple, they fired him. They ultimately rejected the founder of Apple. That is the most apt story I could share. The visionary though was unbowed and the greatest thing he did is what we all need to do—we need to keep on moving. He went ahead and made inroads in the movie animation industry and still built another technology company that was instrumental to the products that Apple developed later on when he came back on board. The bad news is that you will be rejected as you pursue your passion. Billy Graham was rejected by a lover, so was Bill Gates (Lord!). The good news is that it is an indication that you are onto something special when you are rejected.

4. Lack of Resources

The worst nightmare with a life of purpose is when you have downloaded something in your heart and spirit that keeps you awake and yet you do not have the wherewithal to bring it to fruition. You lack spiritual capital, social capital, and most especially financial capital! Mary asked the angel, “How shall this be?” That is probably the biggest question to ask. When Martin Luther King Jnr.  stood up to tell the world, saying, “I have a dream today”, the greatest question that MLK might have been asking himself could have been “Lord, how in the world will this happen?” He did not have the necessary resources to pull it off. The reason why this is the downside of purpose is because you cannot put down the purpose and walk away from it and feel any comfortable. Once you are pregnant with it, there is no going back.

5. The Tunnel of Purpose

The common analogy is that “There is light at the end f the tunnel”. Well, we seldom stop to think about the tunnel life, do we? The tunnel of your purpose could be uncomfortable and stretching. Very few people would endure to the end of the tunnel where there is light. The light at the end of the tunnel though does not signify that the life of comfort has now started and you do not need to expend efforts any more. It simply means that your purpose has now become relevant to the world and is serving them as it rewards you. But the tunnel is a necessary downside of your purpose. I do not think there is a purpose worth its salt that does not have those tunnel moments. When you get to the tunnel, brave the day, hang in there. Accept the discomfort and forge ahead. It is necessary.

Yes, pursuit of purpose has a downside and that side is the side of growth. However the most dreaded down side of purpose is to live a life without it! Think about that.