“Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker.”
What to Consider
- What do you believe is the difference between happiness and meaningfulness?
- What are significant, meaningful relationships in your life? What makes these relationships meaningful?
- Have you ever experienced a stressful yet meaningful time in your life? What allowed this time to be meaningful?
- Have there ever been situations in your life that were both meaningful and happy? What made this situation meaningful? What made this situation filled with happiness?
How to Go Deeper
- Invite several people to read Hebrews 11, with each person reading a section on a different faithful person in the passage. Add faithful Christians throughout history all the way to the present day. These might include Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Catherine and William Booth, Martin Luther King Jr., and somebody from your local congregation. Invite the congregation to see themselves in this long trajectory of meaningful lives in service of God.
- Contrast the meaningful life of Joseph with the pursuit of happiness of some of his older brothers. (Genesis 37-50). How do their lives illustrate the different pursuits of happiness and meaningfulness? Invite listeners to see their story inside the story of Joseph, enduring through the hard times with a sense of meaning. Note how Joseph’s pursuit of the meaningful life ultimately led him to happiness.
- Use the life of Paul to illustrate the difference between happiness and meaningfulness. 2 Timothy 2:8-13 and Philippians 3:7-14, are two Scriptures that share what gave Paul meaning in life. Invite listeners to see, with Paul, their losses in light of the “surpassing value of knowing Christ” (Phil 3:8, NRSV).
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