[This is a portion of a commencement challenge delivered to both the 2016 graduating class of Shepherds College and Leadership Union Grove.]
There are three elements of the OnPupose life I’d like to challenge you to embrace. They are reflected in the life of one of my heroes – Eric Liddell, or the “Flying Scotsman” as he was often called. Eric won a gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and part of his story was captured in the movie, Chariots of Fire. I was drawn to Eric Liddell for a couple of reasons. He was born in China, so was I. He was the child of missionaries, so was I. He attended British Schools, as did I. He was a superb athlete… oh well, 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I believe Eric Liddell lived life on purpose. I see it in three aspects of his life. I certainly try to emulate them; I hope you will too.
Live Life INTENTIONALLY
A life lived on purpose intentionally cuts away anything that does not align with the mission. Doing so requires some tough decisions. The hardest decision you will have to make as a leader will not be between good and bad, but between good and good. For you see, the enemy of what is best in your life is often something that is good. Clarity of purpose will help you choose the better good because it aligns with your purpose.
Others may not understand, they may question, even ridicule your choice. But a life lived on purpose is lived INTENTIONALLY. Eric Liddell stuck by his convictions regardless of the cost. Consistent with his values he chose not to race on Sundays as he believed it was to be a day of rest. As a result, he could not qualify for his best event, the 200 meter. Instead, he ran the 400 meter and in spite of being an underdog, won in spectacular fashion. What others thought to be a mistake, ended up defining his legacy. He lived life intentionally. He made tough choices easily because he was clear on his purpose.
Secondly, Live Life SACRIFICIALLY
Many know of Eric Liddell's Olympic exploits, but what they fail to appreciate is the life he lived after the Olympics. Once the super bowl ring is slipped on the finger, once the trophy is raised in celebration, once the victory lap is complete, what happens next? Is that the pinnacle of a life’s achievement?
After the Olympic Games in 1924, Eric Liddell returned to China and continued a life of sacrifice and service as a missionary and as an educator. When the war broke out, his family was sent to Canada, but he remained, teaching and ministering to the people he was called to serve. The Japanese occupation resulted in his imprisonment in an internment camp with other missionaries. He died there of a brain tumor in 1945, five months before the camp was liberated. At the recent games in Beijing, the Chinese government revealed that he had been offered a prisoner exchange, but he turned it down asking instead that a pregnant woman in the camp take his place. That’s a life lived on purpose, a life lived sacrificially.
Lastly, Live Life PASSIONATELY
If you’ve seen the movie you will know that Eric Liddell's running style was rather unique. Some would and did call it undignified. His arms would flail, his head arch back his mouth gaping open, not a pretty sight. But he was all in. There’s line in the movie that captures the essence of a life lived with Passion.
Eric says, “God made me for a purpose, China. But He also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”
When you align your strengths with your purpose, you will experience a flow, a passion that will energize and propel you to the finish line. I want you to feel the pleasure of a life lived on purpose.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to use my strength to invest in your lives. It makes me feel His pleasure.