Living On My Own

Singer-songwriter Billy Joel (multi-Grammy and American Music Award winner; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) sang these lines to his hit song “My Life” back in 1978:

“I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone!”

It tells the story of an old friend (they “used to be real close”) who got tired of the monotonous routine of his life; so he “closed the shop, sold the house” and “bought a ticket to the West Coast.” Then, he did “a stand-up routine in LA.”

You at least have to give a guy credit for having the courage to march to the beat of a different drummer. Bucking the conventional standard can be a smart move but not when it means living out your life centered on yourself and shutting others out. That’s not a dream worth following.

A Flawed Plan

This is the conventional plan to live out your life: Go to school and get a good education; get a good job; work hard at your job and hope it will turn into a good career. Along the way, find a good wife, have some kids and raise a good family. If everything goes according to plan, you will have a good retirement that will allow you to live out your life in reasonable comfort. It’s all good, right? (Oh, yeah … and then you die.)

For most men, the payoff at the end feels less than satisfying. Along the way, a lot of guys feel restless and bored, suspecting that the process is flawed; but, they just keep their heads down and hope for the best. Underneath the surface, you can feel it. It’s like a low-grade fever – you’re not sick enough to stay in bed, but you’re not well enough to really enjoy life either.

A common mantra among business gurus says, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.” What’s true in business is true in life. If the system of how you live out your life is only producing a nice collection of stuff with no eternal significance, then you need a new system.

Designed For More

Audi’s “Truth in Engineering” tagline is a powerful promise … and it’s just talking about metal and rubber! The truth in the way men are engineered – the truth in the way we are designed by our Creator – is that we are built to live for something greater than ourselves. We are wired to outlive our life.

Outliving your life might sound too epic and unattainable, but a few minor adjustments can make all the difference. Let’s say you board a ship in San Diego on your way to Honolulu. If the navigation coordinates are just a few degrees off, you could miss Honolulu and wind up in Tokyo. A slight course correction in whatever season of life you are in can change your trajectory and guide you to a more fulfilling destination.

Here are 3 course-correcting adjustments for outliving your life:

1. Discover A Transcendent Cause

What are you living for that is bigger than yourself? Having a transcendent cause means you leave more than a carbon footprint. It is the opposite of marking time and just living out your life. It is unconventional. A transcendent cause is really a paradox, because living for something greater than yourself is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Teaching his children to be “others centered” and “outward focused” is one of the biggest things a man can do to outlive his life. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

2. Leverage Your Influence Now

Some men on the front end of their careers, or those who feel stuck in the middle, give in to the idea that they don’t really have an influence yet. While the fall and winter of a man’s life are typically the seasons of his greatest influence, any man in any season of life needs to realize his potential to impact others right where he is.

John Maxwell exposes the myths of leading from the middle in his book The 360° Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization. Maxwell says that some people believe leadership comes simply from having a position or title. So they wait, thinking, “When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead.” They believe they can’t really make a difference unless they are on the top.

The truth in our engineering is that most things are accomplished because of relationships and reputation, not because of position. According to Jesus, the man who is truly great is the one who serves others. Jesus said if a man wants to be first, he must put himself last. Look around at the relationships and responsibilities you have been given. Outliving your life by serving and influencing others starts right now.


A man who invests eternally wants to make a difference now, but he also sees into the future. He understands the Laws of the Harvest. The first law is we reap what we sow. The second is we reap more than we sow. The third is we reap in a different season than we sow. When a man begins to leverage his influence and invest in others, teaching them how to live for something greater than themselves, it could begin a culture shift for the next generation and make an eternal difference.

Jesus Christ, our model for Authentic Manhood, challenges all men to be part of something He calls the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven.” He urges us to understand its value and to forsake everything else to possess it, to acknowledge that it is the only thing worth living for.

Countless things compete for our attention. I was reading a magazine that targets men and tells us what we need to be healthier and happier and came across an ad that leaped off the two-page spread. Written above the hood of a shiny new silver Chevy Camaro was this: “You could live without it. If you call that living.” Can you feel that? I want a test drive right now!

Hold your horsepower, and think about this. You could live without a transcendent cause, without really influencing others for eternity. You could keep your head down on the conveyor belt of conventional manhood, work hard and carve out a pretty good life – all for you. You could just live out your life that way. If you call that living.

This article is an excerpt from 33 The Series Volume 1: A Man and His Design. View Session 1 of A Man and His Design.

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