What’s My Purpose?
About the Guest
Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty have a heart for seeing young men grow into adulthood. Their practical book, "Adulting 101," lays out all the things young men need to know by the time they reach adulthood, from doing laundry to changing a tire. Burnette and Hardesty also give insight to the most important question: "What is my purpose?"
Josh BurnetteJosh Burnette is a husband, dad, business owner, and author who currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, he started working for Chick-fil-A as a team member when he was barely old enough to see over the counter. He received his bachelor’s degree in business management from James Madison University in 2009 (Go Dukes!). Throughout college, he served as a Young Life leader for a local high school, and his passion for mentoring young people began. A...more
Pete HardestyPete Hardesty currently serves as the Young Life college divisional coordinator in the Eastern Division. He moved to the Washington, D.C. area from the friendly city of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Pete grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he was pre-med with the emphasis on “pre.” He then joined the staff of Young Life in Virginia Beach, where he served for seven years before moving to Harrisonburg in 2004. After being the area director for Young Li...more
Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty have a heart for seeing young men grow into adulthood. Burnette and Hardesty also give insight to the most important question: “What is my purpose?”
What’s My Purpose?
Bob: One of our goals, as parents, is to make sure that, when the time comes, our children are ready to assume the responsibilities that come along with adulthood. But Pete Hardesty says, in order to do that well, they need to have a bigger understanding about the meaning and purpose of life. Here’s Pete.
Pete: I had a mentor in Virginia Beach named Jack, who I would meet with regularly every week. He would ask me often, “P.D., have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul®?” And I would answer, repeatedly, “No; I still haven’t Jack.” It’s an odd question; but little by little, it kind of made its way from my mind down to my heart. He would say/he would answer, “Of course, you haven’t; ‘Because naked you come and naked you go.’ So you better figure out what matters in this life and give yourself wholeheartedly to it.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 20th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. Helping our kids move into adulthood is an important transition phase. But the more important transition is the one that comes at the end of life. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So do you follow this hashtag on social media—the #adulting?
Dave: I do not, Bob; but I’m going to.
Bob: So like Melissa here—she—#Adulting: “Yesterday was so perfect even though all we did was clean and do errands. #Adulting” [Laughter] Here’s another one: “What is college you ask? I’m currently eating an entire box of mac and cheese straight out of the pot that I cooked and then I’m taking a nap.” I don’t know that that’s adulting, but she hashtagged that as adulting.
But this is something that has become a new/kind of a new phenomenon in this culture with young people, who—we always thought, when—I don’t know, in the old days, when they turned 18 or then when they turned 21/22, that they became adults. Now, it’s like we’re not really sure when somebody becomes an adult.
Ann: And I think—is that the phenomenon of the boomerang culture that our kids are coming back to our home?
Bob: —because they don’t know how to engage, and what to do, or where to go?
Bob: Well, the reason we’re talking about this is because we’ve got a couple of guys joining us today who have written a book called Adulting 101. Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty join us. Pete, Josh—welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Josh: Thank you for having us.
Pete: Thanks so much.
Bob: This is something you guys are engaged with, really, in two different areas of life; because Pete—you give leadership to Young Life® leaders all up and down the east coast. You’ve been involved with Young Life for two decades; right?
Pete: Yes, a little over it. I went to my first Young Life club in 1989.
Bob: And Josh, you were a volunteer leader, working with Pete for a while; right?
Josh: Yes, for four years.
Bob: And now, you are a Chick-fil-A® owner/operator. So you’re working with a lot of people who are pre-adulting; right?
Josh: That is correct. They’re in that transitional phase.
Bob: So how did the two of you come together and say, “You know, we need to put our heads together and address this subject and help moms and dads, and help young people, understand the realities of adulting”?
Josh: So if you rewind the clock back to when I was at James Madison and Pete was my boss/my area director, he did a tremendous job of preparing the students for life after school. He would take us and teach us how to grocery shop—gave us a list of life information. I referred back to that information in those documents more than any other textbook that I had used over those four years in college. And over time, had the chance to share some of that with my team members that I had the opportunity to employee. I always received really great feedback about how applicable that was to their lives.
We fast forward a little bit and a lot of the dialogues that I have with my employees have been around: “How do I buy a car?” “How do I move out on my own?” “How do I budget well?” And these were things that Pete helped teach us throughout the course of college. One day, I gave him a call and said, “Hey Pete, would you be interested in writing a book?—because I’m going to steal most of your material.” [Laughter]
Pete: I said, “[Thinking about writing] here and there; but not really.”
He said: “Well, I haven’t opened one of my college textbooks since I graduated that day.” But we did a little senior prep course, four or five weeks in the spring. He said: “I refer back to that stuff all the time. I think other people could benefit from this.” Josh had shared it around Chick-fil-A—and a bunch of other owner/operators had taken their teams through it—and thought, “You know, this is going to be useful on a bigger scale.”
Bob: Josh, you came from a family that poured into you and helped get you ready for life; but you found yourself in college with a lot of questions that they hadn’t filled in the gaps for you with; right?
Josh: So I think there’s a balance in that, where my parents did a tremendous job with me and my siblings, but there’s still things that we take for granted—that we assume the next generation knows by just osmosis/by being around—that Pete was incredibly intentional about showcasing and sharing with the leaders that he engaged with. And kind of marrying those two and bridging those two together has been really a big part of how Adulting 101 came together.
Ann: Well, I love that; because, as a mom, raising three sons, I think I was trying to give them tools for life that were practical; but honestly, I think half of the time they weren’t even listening to me. You know, they’re like, “Whatever, Mom.” I don’t think it was necessary at the time; they thought “Oh, I have a lot more living to do.” But I love that you guys came in, and you’re at a point where people/these kids want to learn, and they need it. So you’re really giving them help.
Pete: My mom, I think, is the best mom on earth and—but she’s Italian.
Ann: Wait; what does that mean?
Bob: —that she’s Italian? [Laughter]
Pete: That means—well, yes—no; I love Italians. [Laughter]
Dave: She’s listening right now. Go ahead.
Pete: That means I’ve got to watch what I say now—that means that she likes to care for everybody that comes in the house. If you come into our house, it’s: “Sit down. What do you need to eat/drink?” You’re going to eat more than you should. I had never done a load of laundry when they dropped me off at college—ever in my life. My parents really were trying to set me up for success in the next stage—just hadn’t shared with me some of the more practical things.
So I don’t think it’s always a matter of “Do parents care?” I think a lot of parents care, but maybe don’t know exactly—or have the tools to really set their kids up for success at that next level.
Dave: Yes; I’ll tell you, even as a dad—of course, my sons are grown now—but reading your book, I saw all the things I never did, as a dad. I mean, it was great! It was like, “Oh, yes; this is a toolbox for parents—let alone other people like yourselves—to pour into their lives.”
I remember one time my middle son was driving back to college. I walked in the kitchen. Ann is on the phone; he has a flat tire—I can discern all of this. Here’s what Ann says—right?—“Oh honey, just sit there. We’re calling AAA. They’ll be out’ they’re going to change the tire.” I literally go, “Give me that phone!” [Laughter] She’s like, “What?” “Give me that phone!” I grab it and go “Austin, what’s going on?” “I’m on the side of the road.” I go, “We’re going to change this tire together.”
Ann: I’m arguing; because I’m like: “This is dangerous. [Laughter] He shouldn’t be doing that.”
Dave: And I’m pushing her out of the way; and I realized in that moment: “Oh my gosh! I’ve never taught my son how to change a tire,”—which I should have done—that’s a basic life skill, which I did there, over the phone. We went through the manual—we found it—he changed it. You know, by the end of the thing, he is like, “Dad, that was awesome”; right?
Next thing I do—you know what I did? I literally walked out of the kitchen: “Cody!”—because I still had one at home—“Where are you?!” “What?” “We’re changing a tire.” “What? I don’t have a flat tire.” “We’re changing a tire right now in the driveway,”—trying to help him become an adult.
I thought, “Man, this book is a valuable tool to help people do that.” Have you seen that happen?—people take it and start using it in basic life skills?
Pete: Dave, you know what? I’ve heard from a lot of dads, taking sons and daughters through—and moms, taking their sons and daughters through this book—as a springboard—
Pete: —because they have a lot of things they want to impart; but it’s hard if you don’t have a track to run on. And this doesn’t have everything. There’s not a silver bullet—right?—to teach people, but it’s a good track to start with; because each parent would bring something unique to the table that might not be in the book.
It goes through, topically, some really big issues that they maybe could go through. I know that there’s several parents taking their kids through it each week—they just read a chapter; and then, they kind of sit down and get to have some time and go over it. They bring some other stuff to the table that’s maybe not included in the book.
Bob: So we’re talking about laundry and flat tires—[Laughter]—and those are not insignificant issues—those life skill issues. Is that where the majority of the gaps are with the young people that you guys are working with?—is it in basic life skills? Or are there different issues where the gaps are that they need to be able to fully engage as adults?
Josh: Every person is going to be a little different in what their needs are, and how to best engage with them, and what’s kind of next. Hopefully, what this book also does, in addition to providing information, helps them discern a little bit better in life.
We kind of launch, in Adulting 101, with your purpose: “What’s the bigger picture? What’s over-arching themes in your life?” And everything beyond that is going to be very tactical—it’s going to be the how-tos in life. It’s going to be the nuts and bolts of how to be a good functioning adult. It was written in a way that was intentional—that anybody could pick it up, regardless of belief set, and this is applicable information to them.
Bob: Do you think that the average 22-year-old today doesn’t have an idea of what their purpose is or where they ought to be investing their lives?
Pete: Bob, that’s such a good question. I had a mentor in Virginia Beach named Jack, who I would meet with regularly every week. He would ask me often, “P.D., have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul?” And I would answer, repeatedly, “No; I still haven’t Jack.” It’s an odd question; but little by little, it kind of made its way from my mind down to my heart. He would answer: “Of course, you haven’t; ‘Because naked you come, and naked you go.’ So you better figure out what matters in this life and give yourself wholeheartedly to it.” And that has rung in my life.
Did I know what really mattered when I was 22?—I’m not sure—but I think that people matter. And I know that that’s kind of where our journey began—is we want our lives to matter. Everybody’s life does matter; but we have to figure out: “What really stands the test of time? What echoes in eternity?”—we would say. I think that’s where we begin. Because if we really don’t know what our life’s about or what our purpose of our life, it almost doesn’t matter if we can do some of the practical stuff—like do our laundry or change a tire—that we maybe go over towards the end of the book or in the second half.
Ann: So if you are talking to a typical mom, and she’s raising kids—whether she’s a single mom or she’s married: “What would you advise her to give a kid purpose—to be speaking into their life, their identity, their future—how would she go about that?”
Pete: The first thing that comes to mind, Ann, is 2 Corinthians 4, at the end of the chapter; and that’s where we begin—that’s where Josh and I began—is to set our mind on the things that are unseen—the things that stand the test of time.
If we come from nothing, and we’re going to nothing, guess what we have in between?—nothing. But if we came from something—and we were created with meaning, purpose, and significance—and when we die, there’s a place that we go with meaning, purpose, and significance, guess what we have in between? If we come from something and we go to something, we have everything in between.
So I think, if somebody doesn’t know their purpose for their life or that if they have any purpose, that’s going to be tough to actually really be successful in life.
Bob: I have found myself, over and over again, sitting down with younger people, who are wrestling with this issue of: “What’s my purpose?” I’ve said: “You know,
Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘We are God’s workmanship. We’re created for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ So God has a purpose for you. He created you to fulfill that purpose. What we’re trying to do, together here, is figure out: ‘What is that purpose that God made you for?’ so that you can be a part of His kingdom work.” That can be a hard journey for a young person to be on.
I’ve often said, “Rather than trying to do it like a treasure hunt, where you just are consumed with trying to find that perfect spot, just start doing some things and watch where God blesses and where there’s favor brought into your life,”—to say to a young person: “Just get out and live life,” and “When you start to see (a) ‘I feel alive when I do this’ and (b) ‘People respond well when I do this, and it’s effective,’ then just stay in that lane and watch it blossom for you.”
A lot of young people, I think, get paralyzed trying to zero in on “What’s the exact thing God has for me?” and they’re postponing life until they have it figured out. The way you figure it out is you do life and you learn: “Okay; it’s not this. God doesn’t have this for me, because I’m not good at it,” or “…people don’t respond to it,” or “…I don’t like it.” And then you go, “But I do like this,” and it’s in the doing of life that this starts to become clear to you.
Josh: I think this is the difference between preparation and planning. As I look back across my life—and all the things that I had planned out that I wanted to see come to fruition that didn’t—and the identity that I had wrapped up in those things was crushed; because I didn’t go to the school that I wanted to go to, and that changed the trajectory of my life. I didn’t get the job I wanted to right after college also changed who I am today. I had the opportunity to prepare well for whatever might lie ahead; but every plan that I’ve ever put in place, it seems like God has laughed at me and has shifted me a different direction.
So to your point, it’s all about moving forward and doing something, and preparing the best you can for the stage of life you’re in versus planning out “What is my life purpose?” on a beautiful piece of paper and knowing what that looks like at 22. I think it’s much more of a journey—it’s much more of “How do I prepare well in the season that I’m in for the future?”
Bob: Yes; our parents/our grandparents thought, “When I graduate,” or “When I get in the workforce, then I’ll get the job that I’ll be in for 30 or 40 years.” Well, that’s not the reality for our kids today, who may be in ten different jobs before they retire—which doesn’t make the old way right or wrong or this way right or wrong—it’s just the reality that: “You’ve got a lot of time to figure out what your purpose is. Just start doing some things.”
Pete: We say: “We know God’s will for your life,” and “We know the purpose for your life, in a general sense. And then, specifically, you’ll flesh that out a little differently.” The purpose of everyone’s life is to love God and to love people—that’s for every single human on the earth. We also know God’s will for your life; because, in the Bible, several places it says, “This is God’s will for you…”; so we can grab those, and compile them, and have a list.
But then, it begins: “Career choice,” or “What are you going to major in?” “What are you going to do after college?” “You going to go for a gap year?” “Are you going to go travel after?” All these types of questions start to be ones that you, actually, start to figure that out for yourself. I also believe we can’t mess it up; because if I could have messed it up, I already would have. I’ve made some poor decisions in my life. That doesn’t mean we can’t make bad decisions with very bad consequences—I’m not saying that.
Ann: But it’s reassuring that it’s never too late.
Pete: It’s never too late; because think about it: “If I’d chosen the wrong college—that God had this perfect college for me to choose—that was the one I was supposed to meet my wife at—but I go to a different college. I meet a different gal and get married. Am I going to have a second-best wife? What if I have kids with that wife?—second-best kids? That’s not how God works.
So I know we can have that security that we can’t mess up God’s will for our life, actually. We can make good decisions/bad decisions, good judgements/bad judgements; but we can hold onto that—that He’s going to see us through and He’s standing over time. You might be in a spot, where you’ve thought, “I made a decision I can’t rally back from,” and that’s not true.
Bob: Well, and I’ve told my kids over the years—I said: “You have two kinds of decisions you make. You make good decisions, or you make decisions that invite learning opportunities for you. [Laughter]
Ann: That’s good.
Bob: “Those are the two; so when you make a decision, at the end of it, you either go: ‘That was a good decision,’ or ‘I can learn something from the decision I just made.’ At that point, every decision is redeemable in God’s purpose for you to grow and expand.” And your kids need those.
In fact, before your kids graduate, they need to be making some decisions that are learning decisions, under your supervision; so you’re there to coach them and help them so they learn, not just how to change a tire, but they learn how to deal with failure. They learn how to deal with discouragement. They get some learning out of that; right?
Dave: Yes; that very thought created many fights in our home.
Ann: I was just going to say that—like this was a tension point.
Dave: We’re going to have a fight right now about it. [Laughter] No; we would fight about that; because I was the dad, saying: “I want them to make bad decisions. They’re going to make bad decisions.”
Ann: You didn’t want them to, but you were willing to see—
Dave: No; I wanted them to. See, there is the fight. [Laughter] I’m like, “I want to be a part of helping them pick up the broken pieces.”
Bob: You’re a realist—you know they’re going to make bad decisions.
Dave: Yes; I mean, they’re going to do it later. They’re going to be out there, and we’re not going to be around. Again, I don’t want to control it; but I wanted to be part of the journey as they make bad decisions—to be there and say: “Okay;”—it’s Adulting 101—it’s like, “Okay; how do we become adults in the situation while they’re still here?”
Bob: Well, and Ann, I think the point for folks listening today is: “As you’re raising kids, you want them to be able to adult early.
Bob: “You want them to be able to embrace life and to manage life well. And to do that, you’ve got to be engaged and involved, as a parent, and you can’t just be casual about this. Even the best parent, who does the best job—there’s still going to be gaps in what you do—but get in the game and be as proactive as you can be.”
Ann: Yes; I can remember—I love that you guys are talking about this; because as a second grader—I was eight years old, didn’t go to church, had no church background—but I can remember saying, “God, why was I put on this earth?”—and that’s young. I remember saying that to my 85-year-old dad, at one point. I said “Dad, do you remember the first time you thought, ‘Why was I put on this earth?’” And he said, “I’ve never had that thought in my entire life, and I’m 85 years old.”
Ann: But because that was burning in my heart, I remember laying down with our boys, when they were little, and I would say things like, “I can’t wait to see what God has for you.” They would be—this was little—and they would say, “Is it a present?” I said: “Kind of; because when you discover what God put in you—in your gifts, and your talents, and passions—it is like a present because you—when you do something in the future/when you do it—you think, ‘That is why I was put on this earth.’” I’m sure there are a lot of different things—to see them, now, as adult men—but it got them to start looking for what God had for them.
Dave: It is interesting. Ann is so far ahead of me on this whole thing—second grade; really?—I was 18. I can tell you where I was sitting the day a teacher read
Matthew 22—when the teacher came to Jesus—that’s what you were referring to—and said, “What’s the most important commandment?” I’ll read it to you—it’s right here. Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” You think He’s done; and then He says: “And the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
I remember sitting there, thinking: “It doesn’t matter what I do, vocationally; I’ve got to do that whatever I do. That’s my purpose—now, what does that look like?”
Bob: For moms and dads to be engaged with their kids around that very subject is critical, and you guys have provided help for us in that assignment with the book you’ve written called Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life. This is not just a book for a parent to buy and leave on their young adult’s bed. This is a great book for parents to go through, chapter by chapter, with a high school student or with a college student before you’re ready to launch them into adulthood. Walk through this with them and just say “I just want to make sure you’re comfortable in all of these areas or see if there’s anything I need to help you with.”
We’ve got copies of the book, Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life. It’s in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”; and get your copy of the book, Adulting 101.
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Now, we’ve got the President of FamilyLife, David Robbins, joining us. He’s got some thoughts on this subject of adulting; right David?
David: That’s right. You know, Bob, before coming to FamilyLife, Meg and I worked with 20-somethings in New York City. And often we described what we did as re-parenting and helping 20-somethings grow into adulthood. As we worked with many driven millennials, who were trying to make it in such a ruthless city and discovering their life’s purpose and place, we often reminded them of three core callings every follower of Jesus had, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
One, daily orienting your life to a moment-by-moment relationship with God. It brings so much glory to Him when we do that.
Number two, God has currently given us a handful of people that you were meant to pursue and love like Jesus loved. To love your neighbors, that God has put around you right now in your life, actually glorifies Him so much.
And finally, God has given us the place that we live; and “How can we pursue the common good of the people in the place that He’s put us?”
One of the best ways to help young people adult well and grow into “What is next in their life?” is to help them know what it looks like to “live like Jesus” right where they are.
Bob: That’s good. Thank you.
I hope our listeners can join us back tomorrow. We’re going to continue the conversation. We’re going to talk about how moms and dads can continue to have a strong healthy relationship with their children as those children move into a new phase of life into independence. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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