Life On Purpose
In this month’s Labs Report, we are taking a look at a surprising stat from 2018 and discussing young men, postmodernism, the purpose of life, and the opportunity that awaits us—if we’re ready for it.
By Jeremy Schurke
Director of Mirror Labs
Man in the Mirror
According to data from the publicly archived 2018 General Social Survey of the Association of Religious Data, shared with us by Ryan Burge, one thing has remained constant among young men. For at least three decades, they have overwhelmingly agreed that life does serve a specific purpose.
Conflicting Desires and Belief Systems
I find this surprising because in some ways, it opposes the core belief structure of postmodernism, which has come full bloom in our society.Over the past three decades, one thing has remained constant among young men: purpose.Click To Tweet
Yet, in spite of our cultural affinity for postmodernism, the vast majority of young men believe intrinsically that life serves a purpose; it is not just derived from a random collision of atoms. While postmodernism grants us ethical freedom to do or be whatever we want, it seems we cannot escape this craving for purpose coded in our DNA.
Even as some young men act as though there is no greater purpose—sexually, ethically, relationally—their deep-rooted desire for it and belief in its existence remain. The conflicting behaviors and desires can result in pervasive discontentment.
The Purpose of Life: An Opportunity
Beyond the surprising constancy of “life purpose” over the decades, why is this important for us to recognize now? Because purpose can provide many men with a common ground of connection. The questions surrounding meaning and purpose that young men throughout the past 30 years have waded through are just as relevant to young men wading through them today.While postmodernism grants us ethical freedom to do or be whatever we want, it seems we cannot escape this craving for purpose coded in our DNA.Click To Tweet
Whether you are further down the road of discovery, having asked the questions and come to an answer, or just setting out into the world, this common belief that life serves a purpose provides a shared foundation to build upon. In other words, while the western world is fighting over its cultural identity, we know that most young men believe there is a purpose for their lives. They believe they are not cosmic mistakes—that they are a part of something bigger.
The instinctive question for men, then, is the same: “What is my purpose?” What’s been lost culturally is a way to find the answers. Therefore, for many men, their actions have become purposeless.
The tension many men feel resulting from the disconnect between postmodern freedoms and our core human beliefs provides an opportunity, if we’re engaging in honest conversations and real relationships. Mature men can come alongside younger men and help them tease out the natural follow-up questions of, “Well, what purpose does your life serve?” and “How can you pursue it?”
THE BIG IDEA: Mature men can come alongside younger men and help them search for the answers to the question we all ask at some point: What is the purpose of life?
At Man in the Mirror, we recognize this common baseline, and that’s why our aim is to equip Christian men to engage in meaningful relationships that do exactly this. Men need other men who have faced the same existential crisis of underlying purpose and come out the other side to help them navigate the implications of living life with purpose.
By guiding young men toward honest reflection, truth, and the answers to why God created them, we can help them bridge the existing gap between their actions and their hunger for purpose.