Meaning Is The New Metric

At a recent conference I attended, the overarching message that emerged is meaning is the new metric. The Millennials are looking for it, and the rest of us need it. The age old question, “What is the meaning of life?” is now taking on a contemporary place in the pantheon of motivating questions.shutterstock_250379083

For thousands of years the majority of the world’s inhabitants have worked, and slaved, to survive. There was very little need to ask “why?” there was only the need to survive. It is only in this age of plenty that we can even ask questions that go beyond survival and approach another rung on the hierarchy of needs. So now we ask, “Does our work have meaning?”

No Passion, No Job

This question arises now when employers are hiring and potential candidates are applying. For decades the issues of employee selection revolved around clear job descriptions and skill set evaluation and match. If those two matched, then employment was usually the next step.

Chick fil-A has added another dimension to their hiring and training process, soft skills. Chad Carter, Human Resources specialist, expands on this when he suggests that the soft skills include: problem solving, interactive ability, tactical management, and business writing. Both Chad and Chick-fil-A’s experience is that it is usually the intangibles, the Soft Skills, that determine employee or franchisee success.

At Envoy, one of those intangibles we have recently prioritized is “passion”. When we review candidates for open positions we ask: “Can the potential employee be passionate about the mission of the ministry?”

No passion, no job --- regardless of skill set.

Upon reflection, I think both the priority Chick-fil-A puts on the intangibles and the realization that “passion” for the ministry is important, connect directly to the issue of “meaning” identified earlier. If someone is just doing a job it seems likely their performance will be average at best, boring at worst, and short-lived in most cases. So passion, the intangibles, and the call to meaning are important, no, critical.

I recently had what appeared to be a good candidate for a position with Envoy. As we talked about the position, I mentioned we started four days a week at 7:30AM so we all can have Friday afternoons off. Well, at least most of us. That was a deal breaker for him. He had to take his kids to school. There was not enough “meaning” in this ministry for him to change a behavior pattern. I was glad that he was able to answer the question, “Can this job have real meaning for me?” The answer was “no”. Often a “no” is more important than a “yes”.

So, if meaning is the new metric, then it is important to be able to talk about it, identify its components, and then measure it. While those are good questions, I’m not sure we have all of the answers to those questions yet. But we will.

In our next blog we’ll take on the meaning of the metric.

In the meantime, I encourage you to head over to and download a free copy of my newest eBook: Live with Meaning: Understanding the Power of Future- Funded Ministry. The book will challenge the way you view retirement and give insight into why it’s important to plan for the years ahead where the paycheck stops but the call to ministry continues.

Discovering our future together,