A Fish Out Of Water

I have always felt a little like a fish out of water. I have never been interested in financial wealth. I have always been looking for my purpose in life. What it is I can do to fulfill a deep need that I felt in my life. I didn’t want to live to work. I wanted to work to live. Life was more important than the work I would be doing. The purpose for my life always outweighed the  provision I needed to live on. And, then one day I realized that if I could nail down what my inner passion was I would find my purpose. And, hopefully, there would be a way to earn or receive the provision needed.

So, I know, three “P’s” … Provision, Purpose, Passion.

Most of my generation – the Baby Boomers – focused on provision. Once they found a way, a job, a profession, which would earn them a good living they then began to take the time to look at purpose and passion. As a result, many of them became involved in social causes when they reached their early fifties. They went, as the literature states, from seeking success to looking for significance. As a result of this approach they believed it was their task to help there children get a great education so that they too could have adequate ‘provision.’ When their children grew up and had their provision secure then their parents believed that their central duty as parents was complete. 

This, of course, is part of the reason there is a generation gap. The parents want their child to find a way to make a good living. The child (Millennials and Gen Z) were looking for a place to express their passion and find their purpose in life. Then they would be concerned about ‘making a living.’ And, they would be willing to live on less if they could fulfill their passion and purpose. In other words, the parents want their children to make money and then consider making a difference. The children don’t want to make money unless they are making a difference.

So, why my comment that I felt like a fish out of water? Because I went to university to get a business degree and then graduate and make a lot of money. However, in my third year of a four year degree I began to be less concerned with making a living and more concerned with what purpose my life had on the planet. I began to wonder what I could do with my life that would make a difference. I didn’t want to just live my life, take up space, breath air, and then die. I felt like ‘a fish out of water’ because all of my classmates were happy earning the degree and then making a good living.

During the next four years I finished the degree and worked in the business world. During this time I had added God into the equation and the search. I didn’t know Him personally but I believed there was a God and that He was ‘sort of’ interested in my life. So, I spoke to Him a lot and never heard back from Him. Then one night I asked Him what the “purpose” of my life was. He responded that I was on the planet to make a difference for Him. I felt this passion rise up inside me – like it had finally broken through and been released. The passion had come to life.

As I looked back from that point on my brief life I realized that many of the things I had been involved in even as a child were geared to make a difference in the lives of others. I began to understand that my newly discovered passion had always been there – I just had not been looking for it. And that my passion had always led me to become involved in things, activities, groups that had purpose. 

So, I left my work in the business world (provision) and went seeking further education to enable my passion and purpose to come to fruition. Today, 50 years later, I earn less than I was earning before I left the business world. And, God has been faithful in the area of provision. As I pursued my passion and purpose in life – making a difference in the lives of others – He has been faithful in providing for every need. 

When I share this with the Millennials and Gen Z generations they understand. Because my approach which made me ‘a fish out of water’ in my own generation allows me to swim with the current younger generations. 

Today I work mainly with Gen Z and Millennials and so I understand them. They put passion and purpose before provision. But, unlike myself, they are not like a fish out of water in their own generation, because their whole generation is this way. I am thankful that in my generation God called me and released me to fulfill my passion and purpose even though I felt like a stranger in my own generation. I felt like a fish out of water. But, looking back I would not change anything. I am enjoying swimming with those I now relate to and minister with.