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Running Ragged or Running on Purpose?

Have you worked extra long hours on a project, sweated the details in the heat of a deadline, raced toward the end while leaping across not one but multiple barriers like a steeplechase, and finally crossed the finish line, arms raised in triumph, only to be handed your next assignment?

Running Ragged or Running on Purpose?

Design by Savannah Pryfogle.

Sounds like the average week for many people.

Monday through Friday, and often Saturday and Sunday, we race, but why? We rush meetings, speed through emails and phone calls, and multitask to cover greater distance, yet to what end? We run ourselves ragged, but what is the point of all our effort? 

It's for the mission, we might say. Yet even the mission-driven come up short on this question of purpose. The mission may start us — to teach children, to feed the hungry, to build affordable homes, to advocate for justice, to support the independence of older adults — but something else must draw us forward. That something is vision.

Vision is a picture of the end of all our effort. Vision is a desired end, a fitting end for our aspirations. As a picture that shows the connection between all of our activity, vision makes sense: it explains, it clarifies, it helps us see the whole. 

Because vision is about the whole, it requires the sight of everyone. Without people who share an end picture, there is no vision. And, as Scripture says, where there is no vision, the people run on empty, tucker out, perish.

Not long ago I was exhausted by the race. I knew what got me into it; I didn't know where it was going. I wasn't even sure my colleagues who run with me understood where we were heading. So I asked. 

In two conversations, I essentially posed the question, What are we doing here? Each colleague had an answer. Their replies were thoughtful, insightful. As they spoke, I felt relief. They made connections; they showed me the whole; they shared with me the vision. I was relieved, and I was refreshed. 

We've been running since then. That's the nature of our business. And we've been tired. That's our nature, too. Yet I sense we have greater resources because we see better, see farther. We understand more about why we're running and what we're running toward. 

I do not doubt that we will have to talk about our purpose again, that we will be compelled from time to time to ask, What are we doing here? But I trust that each of us will have an answer, an angle on the vision we share, a reason for our running — a reason that when made known will relieve and refresh us.