How to Live a “Worthwhile Life”

December 1, 2023

At Scatter, we’re equipping you with the tools and resources you need to thrive in the ways God has uniquely designed you to contribute. We want to see you leverage your personality and passion, your talents and training to bring real and lasting impact to the world around you.

A close friend recently shared a video of her parents moving out of the home that her father built for their family nearly 30 years ago. The video didn’t show the things in the house that were being loaded onto the moving trucks. In fact, it barely showed the house at all. 

Instead, the video mainly focused on the line of nearly 100 cars stretching down the streets. The cars of people, who in her words, had come from all over, including 4 different states to help her parents move. Why did they feel compelled to come and help an aging couple with this labor-heavy task?

Because that’s what happens when you live a worthy life. 

Everyone wants to live a life that’s worth it; that’s worthwhile. Instead, we live in a constant state of tension of not knowing how to define worthiness, or worse, not living up to whatever standards society dictates as being ‘significant.’

In regards to the definition, our perception of worthiness is often influenced by what we value most. Once we figure that out, we often try to live up to that ideal, using all sorts of metrics to measure and justify our pursuit of worthiness. Money. Status. Title. Relationships. The size of your home or the quality of the possession within. 

But for my friend, worthiness was defined by the line of cars parked for blocks and blocks down her childhood neighborhood.

Because every car was a story of someone so personally impacted by her parents that they dropped everything to come and help at a moments notice. 

As most things do, the true measure of what is “worthy” will become increasingly evident the further we go along in life. But you don’t have to wait until you’re older to understand what is truly worthwhile. You can not only identify the right targets for a life of value and meaning, but you can take real steps toward the life you’ve always longed for. 

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In Ephesians, Paul opens chapter 4 with these words: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” He then goes on to explain characteristics, or targets, of that “worthy” manner of living. But before unpacking those, pause for a moment on that original modifying phrase: “a prisoner for the Lord.” What’s Paul revealing to us with these opening words?

That the invitation of worthiness, value, and meaning aren’t inherently concerned with where you are at or what you are doing. You could be the Chief Cardiac Surgeon of Mass General Hospital or the check-out attendant at the local grocery store in town. Paul was a prisoner. Living “worthy” isn’t based on your company, your college degree, or your checkpoints of professional success. 

You have everything you need to live a worthy life right here and right now, to find meaning and significance in what is before you because you have significance.

You have a purpose and a unique combination of experience, history, skill, and gifting that only you can bring to the world.

Recognizing this truth - that you have unique value and meaning instilled in you the God of the Universe - gives you the foundation to believe that you’re invited to live worthy because you are worthy and not in order to become worthy. It might sound similar, but the truth of the matter is that if you seek to be good in order to become good, you will never measure up. 

But if you start your journey by knowing you’re worthy, that you have value and meaning inherent because you were created by God with dignity and honor and intention, then you can aim to live a worthy life because it’s the best and most natural reaction to the gift of life that God has given to you.

As you aim to pursue that calling of worthiness, you can start by cultivating the skills that help contribute to a meaningful, rich, and joy-centric way of living. 

Through the Scripture and my experience of coaching young leaders, I’ve selected 4 targets that you can aim for to live a worthy life. Pursuing these won’t make everything easier in your life, but they will give a better chance at having 100+ cars lined up down your street when you need a hand.

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Target #1 - The Cardinal Directions of Character

The number one target to living a worthy life isn’t something external. It’s not a self-help book or a beauty product. It’s an internal and often invisible target - your character. This is where Paul goes in Ephesians 4:2 as he begins to describe a life of worthiness:

“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

These are the cardinal directions of character:  Humility. Gentleness. Patience. And love. The north, south, east, and west of navigating a worthy life.

There are obviously more attributes of a strong character, but you can sum up most of them within one of these four veins.

Love means that your life is about something other than yourself. Humility is the right valuing of yourself compared to others. Gentleness is the ruling of the potential chaos of your natural self (your life apart from Christ), and patience is the ability to endure the suffering of this world with purpose and joy.

Talk about a worthy life: others-focused, rightly-valued, well-controlled, long-lasting. This is the target. Reverse the order and you get: eternal, focused, invaluable, impact.

This is possible for you, but it requires a shift from being primarily driven by externalities to truly digging under your character and using the compass with these four cardinal directions to evaluate the foundation of your living.

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Target #2 - Unity Without Uniformity

If you’ve begun building out your character and you are starting to stand on your love, humility, gentleness, and patience, then you are ready to aim toward target #2 - unity without uniformity.

This is an extension of your love or others-focused pursuit.

A worthy life is one that is engaged with the people around you in ways that cultivate peace and that add value to their lives. 

Cultivating peace doesn’t mean you have to just roll over and accept everything people do around you. Some of the most worthy people in history were people committed to breaking the short-term peace in view of a larger, more holy peace for all people.

Wherever you find yourself, ask yourself these questions:

  • What bridges can you build?
  • What ways of worthiness in others can you affirm?
  • What conflicts can you squelch?
  • What peace can you initiate?

The thing about unity, however, is that it doesn’t have to be uniform. Be leery of those in culture today who claim uniformity is an essential component of all acts of unity. As stated above, you are unique and individual. So use that uniqueness to foster unity. You don’t have to build the same bridge that everyone else builds.

But you do have to build a bridge.

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Target #3 - Maturing in Excellence

Think about the person or people who you most associate with living a worthy life. Maybe your parents. A mentor. A leader in an organization you are a part of. What is true about them? 

If you watch and study them, you’ll find that these people all embody a mature excellence. You’ll notice that they have been tested and tried and have come out the other side with wisdom and a source of endurance that only patience can teach. 

They are trustworthy, dependable, and sacrificial. They know the cost of a worthy life and they are willing to pay it time and time again.

In order to live a worthy life, you have to grasp the truth that you’re moving towards a finish line.

And as you move, you are invited to grow deeper, or mature, in the things that really matter at the end of the race. So value and prioritize maturity, in a way that enriches the lives of everyone who interacts with you. That’s excellence as it grows up.

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Target #4 - Speaking the Truth in Love

At the end of Paul’s appeal to the Ephesians to live a worthy life, he writes these words:

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”

You don’t admire someone who won’t tell you the truth. But you likewise don’t respond to someone who doesn’t speak to you in love. It’s this both/and way of living that positions you to make a worthwhile impact.

If you want to know what God considers to be worthy, you have to study what he says.

By reading through Scripture, you’ll begin to see what he values greatly, namely, his Son Jesus and his creation, you and me.

So for us to live worthy lives under his definition, we should aim to value the same things: his Son and his creation. And how do you value other people who are in your life? You speak. Initiate. Step into the story. You bring truth with you as you engage in these relationships. Tell people about their value. Share encouragement and hope in what comes next. Celebrate joyfully. 

And as you speak, make sure that you are loving. Be empathetic. Willing to relate and carry another’s burdens.  

Practice this, and you’ll see your life continue to move towards worthiness and joy.

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Worthiness > Winning

I know many people in their twenties (and beyond) who are hyper-focused on winning. That was my story. It can be a sales competition at your company or being the first to get married or to have kids. As you get older, winning often takes on different expressions but the pursuit is still the same: winning = success.

But that’s only part of the story and if we’re all honest, we know deep down right now that it’s not ultimately fulfilling or enriching.

So what if you exchanged your pursuit of winning with a pursuit of worthiness? When you hyper-focus on winning, your prize is often isolation. When you focus on worthiness, your prize is that you inspire and invest in others. When you’re fixated on winning, you’re prone to compromise. When you focus on worthiness, you make every effort to stabilize your character.

And at the end of the day, very few people will remember what trophies you won. But they will never forget the way you made them feel because of the worthiness of your manner of living.

No matter where you’re at on your journey, but especially if you are a young leader, consider shifting your targets today. That’s how you choose to pursue a worthy life.

Read part two of this series here.

Article by Jake Daghe, writer and director of discipleship at Passion City Church

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