Placing my lawn chair in the far corner of the gymnasium, I settled in to watch my children compete in the last-day events of basketball camp. It was from this corner seat I began to ponder the connection between childhood achievement and the pursuit of life’s purpose.
The coaches created a simple sticker wall, clearly visible to all who entered the gym. Individual pages – each one toting the name of a specific camper – hung in no particular order, transforming this ordinary brick wall into a makeshift basketball hall of fame.
I witnessed laughter, tears, and an abundance of energy from these young campers. A constant rotating of small bodies from one skills station to another. Some, very advanced. Others, just starting out in the sport. Most landed somewhere in between. All longed to be coined the best.
Every camper held out hope that at least one of these little stickers would adorn their blank page by week’s end. The presence of these stickers would signify they had done something right.
I watched all week as campers, awarded with a sticker for some great display of skill or endurance, ran with great speed to happily adhere the sticker to their special page on the wall.
Their smiles spoke volumes. They had earned the right to be recognized. Everyone would know they had worked hard enough, shot well enough or dribbled fast enough to receive an award. They had attained proof – their best efforts had counted for something.
Pursuing Life’s Purpose
Even as adults we like to be recognized, don’t we? To be acknowledged. To know the efforts we expend mean something to someone. If we’re being honest, even those of us who prefer to remain backstage still appreciate a pat on the back from time to time. And confirmation that we’re actually good at what we do is so encouraging.
Though it may be hard to admit, this process of trying – of putting ourselves out there – helps us find our way in the world. Many times it’s through trial and error that we gain courage. Courage to let go of some things. Courage to branch out and try new things. And when the things we do well begin to line up with the longing in our hearts, chances are we’re on to something.
Could it be we’ve found our life’s purpose or, at the very least, a pathway pointing us toward it?
Just like these precious children, we show up, we follow instructions, we work hard, and we hope we’ll succeed. But what many of these children don’t yet realize is that success isn’t always about how many stickers are added to our page. Success is better defined as the process of stepping out of our safe, comfortable places and into the life He desires us to live.
So, how do we find such success? How do we experience such a life? How do we ensure the path we’re walking is the one for us? My friend, prayer is key. This is where Psalm 48:14 comes into play, “This God, our God forever and ever – he will always lead us.”
Are we prayerfully considering the ins and outs of each day? Are we asking God to show us His way? Pursuing those things God impresses upon us. Stepping through the doors He has opened? Pausing, praying – and when necessary – passing by the doors He has closed?
This process helps us learn who it is God created us to be, and what it is He desires for us to do with our lives.
Our calling. Our purpose.
May we not miss it by failing to pursue the opportunities God sets before us. Opportunities that may land a few stickers on our page, yes. But more importantly, opportunities that lead us into the joy of knowing and experiencing our life’s purpose.
For more on this topic, check out the following resources: