Purpose: A Skilful Playmaker

by Andrews Nartey 

Right from elementary school through to high school, and then to colleges, our English teachers did an excellent job in instructing us that all words in the English language fall into one of several categories called “Parts of Speech”. We learnt that there are 8 main parts of speech in English namely noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection, and two others which did not make the list in most textbooks at the basic level (i.e. articles and determiners). Each part of speech has a unique role it plays in a sentence. Interestingly, we also learnt that some words can fall into more than one part of speech. For example, depending on a sentence, “book” can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective. However, it is important to note that “book” cannot serve dual roles (say, both a noun and a verb simultaneously) in a single sentence. Besides, under no circumstance can “book” be a pronoun, or say, a conjunction. In furtherance to that, words belonging to one part of speech could even play dissimilar roles. For instance, the conjunctions. ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’, however’, etc. convey different meanings in a sentence. So even though they are all connectors in a way, they connect quite differently. While some connect to express contrast and addition, others connect to establish causation and show exemplification, etc.  Now, if such distinctiveness and specificity could exist in “parts of speech” of language, then discovering and knowing our unique (God-given) purposes as humans cannot be trivialized.

The very fact that we wake up daily and we have life is an indication that we have a purpose to fulfil on this earth, so it is not a mere coincidence that we are living. The question however is, are we fulfilling that purpose? And let me take a step back and ask: if we have even discovered that purpose for our lives. Let us remind ourselves of the call of Jeremiah (in Jeremiah 1:5). God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you (set you apart); I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This scripture is very revealing and insightful especially considering that God set Jeremiah apart prior to his birth. What this means is that, our God-given purposes are very distinct, and God has fully equipped each one of us to achieve that purpose. It goes without saying that the pathway to achieving that purpose may not be free of obstacles but rather, we are equipped to weather the storms as and when they come. In the dialogue between prophet Habakkuk and Yahweh (in Habakkuk 2:3), God answered Habakkuk saying: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Here, we can see that time is not a consideration when it comes to fulfilling one’s purpose; for God is not limited by physical laws and dimensions such as time and space. And so, it is not surprising that when God promised Abraham a child even at his old age, he had to wait for a significant 25 years before the promised son, Isaac was born through his wife, Sarah. It makes perfect sense then when Peter reminded us in his second epistle (2 Peter 3:8) that “with the Lord, a day is like a 1000 years and a thousand years, one day.”

The problem we see today is that “book” wants to play the role of a pronoun in a sentence, or “book” wants to play duality (i.e. serve the purpose of a noun and a verb concurrently in a single sentence). Discovering our divine purposes arguably presents a major challenge to both young and old. The problem of identity crisis and role confusion are the root of unending failures and chronic dissatisfaction that we see among most people. Many people venture into one career/vocation/business simply because they see it as a trend or perceive it to be lucrative and they set out only to fail (or perhaps succeed but dissatisfied). This happens mainly because these persons are not driven by purpose but perhaps by their desires to amass wealth for themselves. Thus, instead of finding, honing, and espousing that individuality that God has planted in us, we walk on this earth with mutated DNAs – having discarded our distinctive genetic codes. 

Nevertheless, there are many others who are in the process of discovering that purpose which is not unusual. This is so because true purpose identification is not a type of mathematical problem that requires regurgitating a memorized formula to arrive at a solution. Rather, it is a form of puzzle that requires, among other things, skills such as analytical thinking, visual perception, directionality, and values such as self-honesty and patience. At this point, I would like to zero in on what purpose here means. By purpose, I am in no way referring to one’s profession or career (as some misconstrue it to be). Nonetheless, one’s purpose may be embedded in one’s profession. For instance, I won’t say ‘becoming a teacher’ is a purpose but one’s purpose might be, for instance, to form, inform, and transform the lives of young ones in their line of duty as a teacher. And that explains why we have good teachers and terrible ones as well. The underlying difference between the two is that while the former is purpose-driven, the latter is driven by something else (certainly not purpose); it could be fame, money, or even cluelessness.  

In conclusion, do you know which part of speech you are? Are you playing the right role in the sentence or are you dualizing roles? Purpose is that one player (who) wins trophies in tournaments all year round, and so it is critical we give (him) the significance (he) deserves. That said, when we discover our divine purposes and pursue them to the letter, self-actualization cannot elude us.

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