The Purpose of a Pen

Glen Robinson

I have a very nice pen in my office. I go through a lot of pens, so I am not sure how I came upon this one. It’s light blue, with a springy clip at the top so that you can clip it to things and you are less likely to lose it. The best part of it for me is that the lower shaft–the part you wrap your finger around to brace it–is padded. It feels very nice. It’s an altogether very nice looking pen. There’s only one problem.

It won’t write.

I have tried everything I can think of to get it to write. I have scribbled circles on paper–with no ink coming out. I have tried shaking it, and pounding it against the table. The only thing I haven’t done is hold it up to a flame, as my father used to do, to see if I can get anything out of it. It’s really ironic. It’s a gorgeous pen, but the one thing you want it to do, it won’t–or can’t–do. I end up using cheapie pens I gather to write with.

We’re in the middle of registration at our University. We spent several good days last weekend discussing issues related to teaching. One of the issues that came up was the value of general education classes. Most students look at that variety of classes you take outside of your major field as a necessary evil, something that you just have to “get past.” But many professors–and the administration here–have a different view. Coupled with other activities on campus, such as our campus ministries, prayer in class, and the influence of Christians on campus, general education classes help make students into well-rounded, critically thinking, God-fearing adults that can take charge of their lives. It fills them with purpose. Students–and their parents–often look at getting a degree as a means to an end; it’s what you have to do to get a good job. And that much is true, but it is so much more. Why go to a Christian university if you don’t want to grow in Christ? Our purpose on earth is not to make more money, to live comfortable lives. It’s not really even to go out and preach the Gospel. Our purpose is to represent Christ in everything we say and do. As I have said many times right here, it’s not what we do, it who we are.

God knows all about purpose, and he warns us how important it is to him. In Revelation 3: 15, 16, he says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God has a purpose for us in this life. It’s up to you to find out specifically what God wants from you, but I suspect it’s not making more money. Until you find that purpose, you will find that your life isn’t as fulfilling as God would like it to be. Sometimes he even shakes us, pounds us or puts us close to the fire, hoping that we will discover that purpose.

That pen is still on my desk, even though it won’t write. It’s a beautiful pen. But I know it will never do what I expect of it, and so it is only a matter of time before I throw it out.

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