Archive for March, 2013

Not the Point

Posted: March 24, 2013 by clairer in Purpose

The other day, I was playing a card game with my brothers called “Dominion.” The details of the game are somewhat intricate, but the overall point of the game is relatively simple: you use money to buy cards, you use cards to buy points, and points are counted at the end to reveal the winner.

I thought I was doing pretty well in the game. Over time, I accumulated more and more cards. My stack got to be huge and my turns got longer… but when the end of the game came and we all counted our points, I was left far behind. I’d been so focused on accumulating a stack of cards that I’d forgotten what the cards were meant to be used on: buying points. I’d forgotten my cards – in and of themselves – had no value at the end. I’d missed the main point.

I’ve had a similar experience lately in my life. My graduation from college is only 9 months away and my thoughts have been turning to my future and my career. What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to go to law school or graduate school? Do I want to pursue a career in government or go into ministry or teach? Do I even want a career or does God have another plan for me? My future decisions seem so…looming and immediate. I’ve had dreams and aspiration of achievement and success and I’m trying to figure out what steps I need to take to get there.

But as I’ve studied and dreamed about how to accomplish the things I want to do and achieve, I was struck by a sudden thought: …why? Why am I studying so hard and pushing myself to my limits? Well, to get good grades. Why do I want good grades? Well, so I can get into a good law school. Why law school? So…maybe I can change the world. But…why?

I think it’s easy for me to get so focused on the next hurdle of my future – whether that’s my next midterm, taking the LSAT, or deciding on future schooling – that I forget to ask the why-question. I am so attentive to my immediate to-do list, I forget to ask…what’s the point? What counts when it’s “game over?”

It’s so easy for me to forget this question. It’s tempting to make my degrees, my career, my successes – like those cards – into the goal…instead of merely a means to the proper end. But, like in “Dominion,” this isn’t what the game is all about. With a lot of cards, I have long, seemingly productive turns…similarly, with a resume of “successes,” I can have a busy and productive life. But if I didn’t use the cards correctly – if I don’t use my talents and successes to achieve God’s work…I’ll lose in the end.

This isn’t to say, of course, that I’m going to just give up my drive to study or pursue excellence or to dream of making a difference in the world. In “Dominion,” I still needed the cards to buy the points to win in the end, and in life, I still need to position myself to obediently do what God is calling me to do. But what’s important is to recognize these things for what they really are – to acknowledge their proper function. They aren’t the point. They’re the tool, a means to an end. If I want my life to honor God, I need to focus on what counts.