Thursday, October 14, 2010


By Seth Barnes, founder of ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

Too many people want to keep their options open and miss the opportunity that commitment affords. If I could give my children's generation a gift, I'd get them out of their coffee shops and parents' basements and I'd give them the gift of commitment. You'll never find your future until you launch - you find it as you commit.

Paul set out for Asia and wound up in Europe. While planting churches in this new land he was shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and almost died multiple times. He was at the center of God's will.

Edison set out to invent the light bulb and failed so many times that he declared, "We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb".

Columbus set out to find a passage to the Indies and discovered America. He embarked with none of the usual tools to guide him, saying, "For the execution of the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps."

Discovery rarely happens by going in a straight line or hedging your bets. Usually it requires full-fledged commitment. And that's especially true for those trying to figure out their call or purpose in life.

UVA Business School Dean, Robert Bruner, wrote the following about the process:

"I want the freedom to choose; I want to maximize my options," a student once said to me, in anguishing over his job search and explaining his career strategy. I averred that maximizing options is a risk management device, not a career strategy and that his approach would yield little freedom and a great deal of chaos. Instead of freedom, he would become a slave to opportunism. I said that one will have to choose eventually; and the sooner he did it, the sooner he would gain the sense of release that comes from commitment. But the reply fell on deaf ears. Some talented people can get lost in the stream of opportunities that float nearby. Instead, getting found inevitably entails making a commitment, getting rooted in something such as a direction, some values, a vision, a partner, or a place. As you head into this recruiting season, will you be lost? Or will you be found?

It is said that Columbus discovered the Americas. But that implies a purposeful aim of finding the Americas. Instead, he wanted to find India. Columbus was lost. He significantly mis-estimated the circumference of the Earth and ran aground on the major westward barrier between Spain and India. Lucky for him. We should celebrate his courage and leadership skills. But to say that he really knew where he was going may be saying too much. Arguably, the Americas found him.

Columbus sailed without the benefit of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. He journeyed on instinct and courage, qualities that certainly can help the business leader and the job seeker. He also had the theory that the world is round and believed that by sailing west, he would reach the Indies. He was a man with conviction and direction. Given how little Europeans knew about the world in 1492, Columbus was bound to find something new.

If you're trying to find yourself, it won't happen by hedging your bets. You need to do whatever prayer and research is reasonable and then commit. As you journey out from your safe harbor, inevitably you'll feel disoriented and uncomfortable. But it's the only way you'll find yourself.


To read more of Seth's writings, visit his blog:

And if you are struggling with this issue and would just like someone to interact with, I'd be glad to be a part of that discussion. I'll also be glad to pray! Just leave a message here or if you know me "in real life", give me a call or facebook me!

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