As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, people seem to have used the last year of disruption to become a hunk, a monk, a chunk, or a drunk. I know I am definitely not a hunk or a drunk. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions regarding the other two categories.
In 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, Paul talks about disciplining his body like an athlete to keep it in check, ready to do what is right. Paul uses the phrase, “I run with purpose,” to describe how he lives his life. To run with purpose, you need a destination. You need to know why you are running.
To live a life of purpose, you need to know where you are going. You need to have a clear goal of where you want to be. This past year has really shaken many people up when it comes to having any sort of goals for the future. With so much of our normal daily life thrown into chaos, it has been extremely difficult to envision our life outside of right now. Our purpose can easily become simply getting through another day. But that purpose will lead to a cycle of only seeing what is right in front of you, and your life will only be a series of reactions to the events around you. In this scenario, circumstances are dictating your purpose, not you.
This is what Paul is referring to when he says, “I run with purpose. … I am not just shadowboxing.” Shadowboxing is training method boxers use to warm up their muscles and prepare for more vigorous exercise. They are punching the air and pretending they are boxing an opponent. Since there is no resistance and no counterpunches being thrown, the boxer never loses! But he or she also never wins. There is nothing to accomplish in shadowboxing except getting your body warmed up.
When you are living your life without any real goals beyond getting through today, your destination is extremely shortsighted and limiting. This is not the kind of life God created us to live. In Genesis 1, God gives humanity the job of stewarding his creation and acting as God’s representative to the created world. Jesus told several parables about employees being given sums of money or responsibilities to steward while their bosses went away. These employees were held accountable for how they managed the resources. They were expected to plan and act with purpose with the gifts that they had been given.
Where do you see yourself in three years? What kind of goals have you set for yourself? After a year of disruption, what areas of your life do you need to get back on track? When you have purpose, then every effort you make should be moving toward that end. When you do not have purpose, every effort you make is nothing more than shadowboxing.
As a follower of Jesus, my overarching purpose is to glorify God and share his love with as many people as I can. Under this overarching purpose, I have several goals I am taking on so that I am running with purpose. These goals fall into categories of health, finances, spiritual growth, and relationships.
I certainly cannot predict what is coming — the last year has proven that none of us really know. But when I embrace God’s purpose for my life and work toward stewarding what he has given me, I can run with purpose no matter what craziness and chaos arise.
I don’t know if you feel like a hunk, a monk, a chunk or a drunk, but starting today, run with purpose toward what God is calling you to be. I’ll be cheering for you!
Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to www.presschurch.tv.