The Power of Purpose

Making Your Life Count Part 1

I wrote a few days ago about lessons that I learned when my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia. Of course, when I say I “learned” them, it’s not as if I didn’t have head knowledge of everything I said before her diagnosis. If you asked me, “Is life precious,” I would have answered, “of course!” I knew it. But did I appreciate it?

I said in that post that I would write some ways you can maximize your life. How to make the most of your time is a big topic, so I’m going to break this into several posts.

The first step to maximizing your life is:

Know Your Purpose

Too many of us have no idea what our life’s purpose is. Most of us are wandering generalities when we should be striving to become meaningful specifics. It’s hard to hit a target that isn’t there.

A driver on a cross-country journey must know his destination for the trip to be productive. (I know some people like to set out in a random direction and see what happens. That’s a fun exercise for a weekend, but not a preferable way to live a life.)

We need a destination to put in the GPS. In your life, that target is called your purpose. Do you know your calling? Do you know where you’re supposed to go?

I know my purpose. I have codified it into a “purpose statement.” By having a clear purpose statement, I can be very productive and self-evaluate to make course corrections because it’s easy to see where I’m getting off track. A purpose statement serves as a compass, a gps, on the journey of your life.

I thought it might be helpful to share my purpose statement and show how it brings tremendous clarity and helps make my life very productive. I find when I can see examples of a principle it helps me tremendously. Suddenly what I need to do becomes clear. I’m sharing this with you in that spirit. I don’t expect your purpose statement to have the same ingredients as mine. What I want you to take from this is the power of a purpose statement to guide your life so that you can feel satisfied and fulfilled rather than frustrated and regretful about how you have spent your days.

Here is my purpose statement:

My purpose is, by faith, to be an imitator of Christ, modeling and mentoring sacrificial leadership, a passion for liberty, and the establishment of a multigenerational legacy.

It is easy for me to evaluate my actions, moment by moment, day by day because I have a measuring stick. Does my behavior fall in line with my purpose statement, yes or no?

My statement is mine. Yours can and most likely will be entirely different. The key is that it provides you with a measurement of the expenditure of your time, the outpouring of your life.

Let’s break mine down and show how it directs my steps daily.

Phrase 1: “By faith…”

Faith is the foundation. Faith is the source. Romans, quoting Habbakuk, tells us the righteous shall live by faith. It is by faith that I receive the gift of salvation. It is by faith that I will grow in Christlikeness. 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Faith is the source of victory. Faith is the reservoir of strength. Faith is our light in the darkness. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).

As you know, leadership and family are also passions of mine, so I modified the idea in Romans 1:17 slightly and created a family motto: Ducere Per Fide (“Lead By Faith” in Latin). Rosses are people of faith, and we are leaders. For us, to live is to lead. So we “Lead by Faith.”

The opposite of Faith is not works, doubt, or reason. The opposite of faith is fear.

Therefore, having “By faith,” first and foremost in my mission statement gives me a natural self-evaluation metric. Am I operating by faith or by fear? That passage in 1 John flows from a declaration that following the commands of God is not difficult. Christ said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30). That is because, by faith, Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit live through me. It is not I who live, but Christ. (Gal 2:20) If I am feeling burdened, I must ask myself if I’m walking by faith or by fear. In faith, I can do all things. (Phil 4:13) In my flesh, I a boxing with the air. (1 Cor 9:26) If I am operating by faith, I am running the race in such a way as to win the prize. I must do everything by faith.

Phrase 2: “…to be an imitator of Christ.”

Frankly, I could have stopped there and been ok. The rest is gravy. Christ is the perfect man and the most exceptional leader in history. If I even come close to imitating Him, I’ve succeeded.

He came to serve rather than be served. Christ had a passion for doing the will of the Father. He was humble and yet unwavering on matters of truth, justice, and principle. Christ exuded love and made anyone who came into contact with Him feel special. Christ was disciplined, diligent, and active. Christ invested himself in 12 men to equip them to go further and do more than He did. In other words, His strategy was duplication. Christlikeness, for me, is the ultimate barometer. It’s pretty easy to say, “How am I doing? How close was I to imitating Him in that meeting? In how I responded to that challenge? With my day? With my weekend? Was I Christ to my wife? To my children?

Christlikeness is a standard that produces fruitful accountability in me on a daily basis.

Of course, I have to decide how to channel that Christlikeness, so I took my purpose statement further to ensure that I have a litmus test for the stewardship of my specific gifts and passions.

Phrase 3: “Modeling and Mentoring…”

I am called to live out Christlikeness in pursuit of modeling mentoring some specific ideas. I toyed with lots of words here when I was developing my purpose statement such as serving, discipling, leading, creating, and building. I wanted my statement to have brevity, so I settled on “modeling and mentoring,” because they encapsulate all of the ideas I know I am called to. My passion is leadership. I believe everything rises and falls on leadership and that all problems are ultimately leadership problems. A great leader preeminently models what they want to see in their followers. I want to duplicate servant-heartedness, so I have to first model that. I know that discipling men is a part of my calling. So I must model personal discipleship. I believe every family should strive to achieve a level of financial independence, so I must model entrepreneurship and multiplication of resources. For every area of impact where I have a passion, I must first model. That’s another gut check. Did I manifest what I would want to see in that situation? Did I display the right approach or response? I measure my modeling, and that helps me make the most of every moment.

Next, I have a gift for teaching and training, as well as a passion for seeing people grow, have breakthroughs, and succeed. Nothing fills my tank more than pouring into others. So mentorship is a core part of my mission. While I am adept in areas of strategy, creative work, sales, and marketing. While I am building multiple businesses that take advantage of those strengths, in the end, I do it all to position me to impact the most people. My objective is to serve people and the specific gift that allows me to serve people best is mentorship. Knowing that pouring into people is my true calling helps me make lots of decisions. Will this put me in front of more people or less? Will this facilitate new mentoring relationships or restrict the people I can invest in?

A few years ago I had an opportunity to return to the place my career started, the enterprise software industry. It was a very lucrative opportunity. But the prospect was pretty easy to turn down because it would have meant me having minimal impact in people’s lives. That career option might have meant financial success, but I’m much more interested in relational significance. Once again, knowing my purpose facilitated making the most of my life.

Phrase 4: “…sacrificial leadership…”

At this point in the mission statement, I get specific about what I want my life to be about; in other words, this is where I define precisely how Christlikeness Modeling and Mentoring will be manifest in my life.

As stated above, and is evident to anyone who has spent much time on this blog or with my podcast, my passion is leadership. I can’t change the world. But I can raise up a cadre of world-class leaders who can make a dent. And if I do it right, that group will repeat the process. And in a generation or two, we can change the world. My website tagline is “Building World Changers.” Great leadership is sacrificial. I know that because I am who I am because the most exceptional leader of all time sacrificed everything for me. I want to be a great leader to my wife and children. I want to be a great leader to my partners, stakeholders, and clients. That means daily sacrifice.

“…a passion for liberty…”

Life is the only value higher than liberty on the scale of importance, since life is a prerequisite to liberty. For everyone already breathing, liberty becomes the preeminent issue. For as long as I have memory I’ve been passionate about the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created EQUAL, and endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (I wish that last word had been “property.” It would have solved lots of problems. But I digress.)

For as long as I can remember I have abhorred the idea of men depriving other men their inalienable rights based on an assumption of superiority for one grotesque reason or another. Justice is a liberty issue. Fairness is a liberty issue. Opportunity is a liberty issue. If every problem is a leadership problem, every evil is born out of an infringement on liberty.

If you think about it, everything you wish you could change about the world is the result of someone infringing on someone else’s freedom. Christ came to set the captives free. What’s the great hymn say? “Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” I am called to that mission. So I work to help people become genuinely free on multiple levels. I work to free people from bondage to sin and death through the proclamation of the Gospel. I try to free people from the bonds of voluntary servitude through the power of entrepreneurship. I advance freedom from the yoke of debt through financial enablement and education. I liberate families from generational chains through mentorship on multigenerational vision and transformation. And generally, I promote and work for the cause of liberty and dismantling the machines of tyranny in our society.

With every decision, my passion for liberty makes the path clear. Does this advance my liberty or the liberty of others? Will this lead to more people being free? Does this put my family in a position to be freer or less free? I could have more readers or listeners is I was generic about spiritual things. But that would leave people in bondage. So it makes the decision to be bold in the proclamation of the truth an easy one. I want people free. This passion is especially helpful in interacting with political and social issues. More liberty is a yes. Less liberty is a no. Simple. The label or initial behind a name become quite irrelevant.

“…and the establishment of a multi-generational legacy.”

If we begin with the end in mind, this is my end. The family was the first institution founded by God. God thinks multi generationally and has made clear that the passing of the torch from one generation to the next is a cornerstone of His strategy. (Deut 6:1-9) As I model and mentor leadership and liberty the most important place for me to do that is in my family. If I make millions of dollars but don’t transfer my worldview to my children, I have been a failure. The most important people for me to disciple are my wife and children. The reach of the church expands from generation to generation as families faithfully pass the baton of discipleship. Are my decisions solidifying a multigenerational legacy or jeopardizing it? Do they bring my children into a more significant relationship with me or push them away? Am I investing the time required to ensure that they can advance the Ross worldview when I am gone? Am I providing the resources for our family to be influencers in our society?

Thinking about my purpose as a multigenerational visionary creates tremendous clarity.

Faith…Christlikeness…Modeling…Mentorship…Leadership…Liberty…Legacy

Six words pieced together in a single statement give me a tremendous power to make every day of my life productive. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always focus. But much more often than not, these principles guide my decisions and my actions. And when I look back on my days, I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

I wish the same for you. I hope it has been valuable to “look over my shoulder” and see how I think about this issue. I encourage you to get a purpose statement. Start brainstorming. Write several drafts. Once you have something down, start living it out. Let your purpose be your compass.

Leave your thoughts below. God bless you!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Shelby

    This is amazing!!

  • Scott Etzel

    Wow! Love this. Thanks Scott. I’ve been sharing similar thoughts with my family. I will definitely share this.

  • Michael W. Johnson Jr.

    Are there times where you derive no personal pleasure in the actions you take to align your life with your purpose?

    • Thanks for the question. Nothing immediately comes to mind, but certainly I have to do things frequently that I wouldn’t categorize as “pleasurable.” I make sacrifices and I pursue disciplines that are often uncomfortable or inconvenient or, in the short term, undesirable. But it doesn’t really occur to me that I’m not deriving pleasure in the short term from those things. First, my personal “pleasure” is not really a high value for me. I’m not really focused on that. Instead I am fulfilled and satisfied in the big picture because I am, for the most part, making wise decisions that align with my values and my purpose. And I know that abiding joy will be the natural by-product of pursuing a wise path. Second, there is long-term pleasure from a job well done. If you go to the gym, there may be pain in the moment, but you reflect after with great satisfaction because you did something good. That’s life. I can take pride and satisfaction in knowing the worth of what I am doing. Last, but certainly the most important principle, is that I am aiming at an eternal reward. I want to hear “Well done,” from my heavenly Father. I want to receive a reward that dwarfs anything here on earth. Therefore, short term displeasure is considered inconsequential. The apostle Paul said it this way, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) I hope this helps. Thanks again for reading. Let me know how else I can add value.

  • Sherie Billingslea

    Thanks for your sharing and this is very thought provoking. This has inspired me to create my own life purpose statement. I find it so interesting that there are statements for everything you know. Like your job, businesses, etc. and it never dawned on me that I can have my own purpose statement. Definitely working on mine.