Zappos, the company that pioneered selling upscale shoes online, defines its purpose as “delivering happiness to the world.” This higher calling of happiness enables Zappos employees to select which products to sell and to wow customers with incredibly convenient and pleasant service. Zappos’ purpose-filled culture has been so attractive that, even after the company began offering new hires $3,000 apiece NOT to work at Zappos, 96 percent of them refused to take the money. They wanted to be part of the purpose.
People also want to buy from companies that have a lager mission. In 2015, Nielsen surveyed 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries and found that two out of every three—66 percent—are willing to pay higher prices for products and services that come from companies that are committed to what they view as positive social and environmental impact.
People want to sit down and order up purpose and values, but the beliefs our culture holds puts only material choices on the menu. And those don’t satisfy.
The pursuit of purpose shows a desire among people to be part of something bigger than themselves—an environmental cause, a mission to make the world happy, a movement to improve health or well-being among millions of people.
The problem is, people in developed countries are less likely than ever to be part of institutions. And even when they are, they strongly prefer ones filled with people who reinforce their own identity as individuals.
In the American Express survey, an identical percentage of people as who wanted purpose in their employer also wanted their employer’s values to match theirs. So their sense of a “genuine purpose” is one that matches their own individual values.
But the true power of purpose is that it connects our lives to something larger than ourselves, something bigger than our own values. Individual empowerment can never do that.
The good news is that being followers of Christ gives us exactly this kind of purpose. Being a Christian means that our entire life is part of the glory of God. The mere fact that we exist glorifies God. And now that we are in Christ, he works in us to make our actions also glorify God.
This includes even our most mundane actions—like having breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also includes our work—whether that’s at the office, the factory, the store or the home. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
A critical part of God’s glory is Christ’s work to build His church and through it to overcome evil (Matt. 16:18). All Christians—through whatever work we do—are part of that larger project.
The glory of God, the building of Christ’s church—those are purposes that, truly, give meaning to life.
This article originally appeared here.