What Am I Living For? – A Parable

This is a story about a man named Robert who lives in San Francisco and owns a thriving technology business. His company also has a large office in New York. Robert has to regularly travel across the country as he tries to spend equal time in both cities. He doesn’t mind, as he is married to his work. “I will have time for a family sometime later in life,” Robert reasons.

Early one Sunday morning he is boarding a flight to New York where he will spend the week. As he settles into his seat, he notices the passenger seated next to him is a lovely young woman who is also quite friendly. As the plane takes off, they strike up a conversation that lasts the entire five-hour flight.

As it turns out, the woman, Susan, lives in New York and has been in San Francisco visiting her old college roommate. Susan works in fashion and really loves her promising career and life in the big city. Robert is relieved to learn she is single. Could this be a divine encounter? He thinks maybe so.

They have dinner together that week and Robert finds that he is quite taken by Susan. He looks for reasons to travel to Manhattan more frequently just to be with her. He regularly sends her flowers, wines and dines her at the city’s finest restaurants, takes her to the theater, to the symphony, and all of the things she loves to do.

After six months, Robert is madly in love with her and decides it is time to propose marriage. When the special moment unfolds, he gets down on one knee, proposes and is shocked by Susan’s response.

She says, “I do love you Robert and I love all you do for me, but I am not ready for marriage. My career is my focus. I love New York and all my friends here, I am just not ready for marriage.

Not to be deterred, Robert doubles his efforts and continues to pursue Susan. Six months later, he proposes again, and sadly she gives him the same response.

On the flight back to San Francisco Robert tries to figure out what has happened. Where did he go wrong? As he reflects on this, it dawns on him that Susan never really loved him. She wanted all the benefits he provided her, she just didn’t want him. And the reason she didn’t want him is because she had given her heart to her career and her exciting life in New York.


This parable is a picture of how many people approach their relationship with God. They believe in Him and want to be showered with His blessings. They just don’t want Him, because there are so many worldly things that have captured their hearts.

I am reminded of Stephen Covey’s words, where he says we all have a hierarchy of priorities. A hierarchy of wants. He calls it our “personal center.” Deep down it is what a person lives for. There is something in life that we believe will give us a sense of significance and security. Without this main thing, most of us believe we could never be happy.

For this reason, I believe that we should all seriously ask ourselves “What am I living for?” Paul tells us as Christians “that we should no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf.” We were designed by God to die to self and live for Him. This is the key to finding the abundant life God has for us.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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