Author and speaker Donald Miller got on the platform for The Justice Conference 2014 last night and shared a lie that he has struggled with in life: “No one will love me unless I win.” Then he shared his experiences on engaging fatherlessness in a meaningful way with his involvement in founding The Mentoring Project. Unlearning the belief that winning is the meaning for life has been challenging for Miller but he shared that Austrian neurologist and psychologist Viktor Frankl’s work “Man’s Search for Meaning” has been impactful on his life. Frankl communicated that meaning is existential and has components of gratitude, purpose, and giving up control while still maintaining responsibility. Miller shared how Frankl’s experience as a Holocaust survivor shaped some his prized values such as:
– Have a project that you do for others.
– Have a redemptive perspective on suffering
– Have rich, deep, safe relationships in community with others.
Then, Miller jumped into talking about how this all relates to Jesus. Jesus wants us to serve others; Jesus suffered for us and is able to make beauty out of pain as the wounded healer; and Jesus provides a community that can include rich, deep, and safe relationships with others. So far so good!
Where I jumped ship and got put off at was in his statement, “Don’t try to change the world to succeed, but to experience meaning.” Meaning for human existence simply found in packages or projects of justice is problematic to me. In fact, I’d say that any conclusion of meaning for human existence found outside of restored relationship to God along with others is subpar.
My point, put simply, is that “project” language is too impersonal to me. We need to remember that beyond projects are people who we need to be careful in how to communicate our intentions to bring God’s peace, justice, and love to their family, friends, and community contexts.