On August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong – the first man to land on the moon – passed away.
Whether you know the person who dies or not, death has a weird way of making you think about life.
Death forces us to pause, reflect, and think about the things that actually matter in life.
Although I never met the man, I would have loved to have asked Neil what he felt before launching off to the moon.
Whatever he felt, I know that it didn’t keep him from going to moon and fulfilling is mission with NASA. His courage and purpose propelled him forward to accomplish his mission, even if the face of uncertainty and possible death.
Neil had this courage and purpose, I believe, because he lived for a purpose greater than himself.
What legends teach us about life, death, and purpose
When I think about Neil Armstrong and other legends throughout history – people who have made a profound impact on the world through their courage, sacrifice, purpose, and work – I realized that they have some common character traits.
One common character trait, is that each one of them lived for a purpose greater than themselves.
They didn’t just merely exist and go through life like a casual joe. They believed in something greater and more important than themselves, and this gave them purpose to pursue dreams and goals even when there was uncertainty and possible failure.
Neil Armstrong didn’t know whether or not his mission to the moon would be successful, but he took the risk anyways because he knew what it would mean for the advancement of science and mankind.
Martin Luther King Jr. risked his life to end slavery in America, even thought he faced cursings, beatings, discrimination, and death threats for standing up for the rights of all human beings (which eventually led to his death).
Mother Teresa gave her life to serving those in Calcutta who were poor, crippled, lame, and sick, even though she faced the threat of disease and death everyday.
Jesus Christ gave himself to save the world, suffering curses, beatings, flogging, and crucifixion. Yet, he knew what his sacrifice and resurrection would mean for the world: the restoration of all things.
What this means for you and I
I believe there are opportunities and choices that come our way that have the potential to change our lives and the lives of those around us.
Whether it’s a new job, moving to a new city, volunteering for four months in another country, getting up and walking across the room to talk to a stranger, being intentional with how you love your kids, or writing a book, we all encounter opportunities that have the potential to change our lives, and the lives of those around us.
We all encounter opportunities in life to change the world.
The question is, will we jump on these opportunities – small or large – to change the world around us? Will we walk through the door, take a leap of faith, and risk our lives for a purpose greater than ourselves, even in the face of uncertainty and possible death?
Neil Armstrong, and the other legends mentioned above, teach me that when you live for a purpose greather than yourself, you live your life without fearing death.
Because you live for something greater than yourself, you put that greater purpose above your own life.
The question I’m asking myself – and the question I’m asking you – is what is the greater purpose you are living for?
“Never confuse what you do for a living with your reason for living.”