“Once we ask whether life is meaningful, there is no turning back,” says Dennis Ford, author of the book, The Search For Meaning: A Short History.  I agree.  Reminds me of the time, as a little boy, that I pigeon-holed my father, forcing him to answer the question, “Is Santa Claus real?”.  Once I asked the question there was no turning back!

Is life meaningful?  This is not merely an academic question.  As a pastor and spiritual leader I have performed and attended funerals of young people who committed suicide or battled addiction to harmful substances because they felt that life was no longer worth living.  On a regular basis, NorthLife Church where I serve, encounters lonely, depressed, alienated outsiders, for whom life feels meaningless.

What’s the answer?  Is there one?  Actually, as in many cases of problems facing our world today, there are many answers, but few real solutions.  For example…

  • Advertisers tell us that happiness and meaning come through the acquisition of things.
  • Science tells us that happiness and meaning is a function of “discovering and controlling the only world they believe exists” the physical, material world.
  • Religion tells us that happiness and meaning come through “connecting to a transcendant, higher realm that exists behind and beyond this earthly one beneath our feet.
  • Secularists tell us happiness and meaning come from “satisfying our hedonistic desires for pleasure, success or fame”; the old sex, drugs and rock-n-roll cliche’ and “eat, drink and be merry” motto come to mind.
  • Post-modernists tell us that meaning is “inside” each of us; life is “what we make it”.

Many spiritual seekers, like myself, have attempted to travel down each of these paths only to find them ultimately unsatisfying.  The ‘Yellow Brick Road’ promising to take them to THE place of wisdom and joy turned out to be a dead-end street.  Many get frustrated and stop thinking at all, hopping in their imagined convertible, driving with the wind in their hair while they sing along with the Rolling Stones, “I can’t get no satisfaction, and I try and I try and I try and I try…I can’t get no…satisfaction!”

My conclusion?  3 Thoughts:

1. If there’s really no meaning that exists under the sun, our only hope must lie above it…LOOK TO GOD.

2. If the wisest men on earth have found no real solutions, then we must look to heaven itself for those answers…CONSIDER HEAVEN.

3. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, then He can ‘resurrect’ meaning in your life and mine…TRUST JESUS!

I’d love to hear from you.  Your thoughts?  What has helped you find meaning in your life?  How do you deal with the threat of meaninglessness?

“I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

My Trip to the Naval Academy…


Inspiring.  Demanding.  Defining.  These are some of the words that jump to mind when I remember my trip to the US Naval Academy yesterday.  Other words leaping to mind…Prestige…Excellence…Tradition…Discipline…Results.  As I walked across The Naval Academy ‘yard’ (Their term for ‘campus’), taking in the refreshing Spring smells, colors and sounds; it was clear to me that I was not happening to this experience; this was happening ‘to me’.  What was happening to me?  As I visited the 168 year old military institution, I grew silent, shifting into ‘listening mode’ and became aware of ONE MAJOR THING that was happening to me:

I was being exposed…

This was my first visit to the Naval Academy, and so I was seeing everything like a newborn baby, for the very first time.  I loved it.  The neat, tidy, clean-edged, structured, ordered world of the midshipmen (Students attending the Naval Academy are called ‘midshipmen’) I was experiencing things I’d never seen, heard, smelt, felt or perceived before.  I was BEING EXPOSED to new and different landscapes, people, thoughts and ideas.  In a deeper way, when I say that I was BEING EXPOSED, I really mean that I was personally “being found out”.  As my world collided with the midshipmen’s world, not only did I see things around me I’d never seen before, I saw things inside of me I’d not seen before.

As I saw their commitment to excellence, I turned inward and asked myself, “How committed am I to being excellent?”  As I breathed in the ‘air’ of self-discipline and professional rigor with which these young men and women are instructed, I looked in my imaginary mirror and asked myself, “Brad, where do you need to be more disciplined?”?

As I was being exposed to them, I was being exposed to myself.  Walt Kelly’s famous quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us”, describes well how I began to feel.  Once again, I was reminded that “the hardest person you lead is always yourself.”

But this didn’t discourage me!  It FIRED ME UP!  Instead of comparing myself to these elite students and athletes and feeling down, I got inspired and motivated by their example.  They served as my model and I was learning by watching them.

Do you have any people, places or things that serve as your ‘learning models’?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…What do you personally do to keep growing as a human being and leader?