Do you covet honor? You will never get it by serving yourself. Do you covet distinction? You will get it only as the servant of mankind. Do not forget, then, as you walk these classic places, why you are here. You are not here merely to prepare to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
-President Woodrow Wilson at Swarthmore College, October 25, 1913
This quote has been prevalent for me the past couple days as I ponder things such as purpose and mission; it’s the ‘why’ that my thoughts center around. Why am I attending College of the Ozarks? Why was I selected to travel to Belize? Why does God show me grace? Why am I here at all?
People talk of God’s will for our lives as a mysterious, abstract idea that only the super-spiritual can access. Only through constant, rigorous Bible studies, meditative prayer, and a perfect church attendance can one hope to glimpse the lofty goals and aspirations of the divine mind. I think this understanding is misguided, and I think President Wilson, though in a different context, approached a better understanding of our God-given purpose. It is real. You can touch it, taste it, and personally experience it in a multitude of creative ways. You find it in day-to-day relationships.
This is what God purposes for us…Relationships.
So, why am I here? (duh, relationships) It seems easy to forget sometimes. Daily tasks and assignments absorb my time. Future plans distract me from the here and now. Laziness creeps in my heart and steals me from the goal. Life gets so busy that I forgot to be where I am until I leave. This is so easy to do in a college that praises hard work and achievement.
Soon though, I’ll be in Belize and away from the tasks, distractions, and business. My hope is that, being free of those things, refreshment will come to my tired eyes, and I’ll again see the people next to me. I’ll give of myself to offer them an ample life instead of hoarding myself to achieve honor and distinction. Instead of being impoverished, I will be nourished by their relationships so that I can go home and live the same way. I’ll touch, taste, and experience God through a people I’ve yet to meet.
May we all get a taste of that.