It is important to have a purpose in life, yet this is not enough. It really matters what your purpose is.
As a child, my life was without a purpose. My parents had told me that I had to perform well in school—it seemed to be the most important thing—but I didn’t necessarily understand why. I didn’t do chores in the house or in the yard. And school went well until I surrounded myself with an entourage in which in order to survive I had to make compromises in terms of learning and school. Most often I was on Eliade’s Mantuleasa Street, where I lived, and around the area. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I was free. Since then I have learned some physical skills: climbing, running, football, swimming, etc. Those were good skills, but they cost me others. I was generally stingy with learning. I would sometimes hear parents say, “I don’t want to steal my child’s childhood,” usually in the sense of not stressing the child out of school. I don’t judge them, but I now know what it’s like to regret not doing such and such, not reading that book, having to catch up with such and such a thing, but being unable to advance as much as you’d like. Coming back, school was not the ultimate goal and, at least in my case (and among other things), the lack of an all-encompassing purpose led to a lackadaisical approach to school.
The goal is me
During my seventh and eighth grade vacations, I began attending the Seventh-day Adventist church. Seeing around me an interest in knowledge, skills, and moral principles, I set out to read the Bible regularly and easily rediscovered my education. But progress was difficult. It came after years of laziness and I was trying to cover big, old gaps. As a teenager, I lost my mother. Her absence made me numb and propelled me forward with exceptional force. Since then, I have taken my personal development seriously. I wanted to take care of myself like never before. But, as satisfying as such a commitment was, even in full development I felt that it was not everything. Yes, it is important to be a man of character, to be calculated, to love your family, to have a stable job, to always set new and bold goals. However, personal development is not the ultimate goal.
The ultimate goal
Not only did I do everything I could for my own development, but I also encouraged others to do so, especially young people. As I was preparing motivational materials, I remember, like it was yesterday, how I set out at some point to look at the purpose for which Jesus lived. It struck me like lightning. Jesus is brought as a criminal before Pilate and says, “For this I was born…to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
I realized that man in general tends to be his own ambassador. In contrast, Christ bore the mark of His Father in the world. God is the embodiment of truth, and Christ came into the world to bear witness to Him.
Through the vine symbol, Jesus tried to convey the same purpose to man. Jesus said that He is the vine, and the man is the branch. The latter is meant to bear fruit (hence self-development), but this is not the ultimate goal. Bearing fruit is meant to augment the reputation of the Owner of the vine; that is, God. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Since the day I understood these things, everything I set out to do in life goes through this filter. For example, I take care of my body, but not primarily to live longer, but to honour my Creator. I educate my child, but not to be applauded as a parent, but to point people up, to the Father of all. I speak or write to others, but not so that people may ultimately listen to me, but to the One from whom I learned, Christ.