The den of the house in which I grew up was converted to a makeshift hospital room. All the furniture had been removed except for the blue recliner. A hospital bed had been brought in and my mother was lying unconscious in it. The hospice nurse read quietly in the kitchen and my sister was dusting the chandelier in the dining room. Funny what you do when you don’t know what to do. Mom was in the last day of her fifteen-year battle with cancer. Dad had passed away ten years earlier.

The room seemed much smaller than it did when I was a child, lying on the floor watching the Captain Kangaroo show or playing Candy Land with Dad. While the furniture had been removed, everything had been left on the bookshelves. There was a hymnal from the Horse Cave, Kentucky First Baptist Church, where Dad attended in his childhood. Dad’s Bible was also on the shelf. I knew it was Dad’s Bible because the leather spine had been repaired with packing tape. Dad loved packing tape and used it with a passion.

As I sat there looking at Mom, it occurred to me that, while she couldn’t speak, how did I know for certain she couldn’t hear me? I couldn’t ease her pain anymore but was there some way that I could offer her comfort? What would matter to her in these final hours? I talked to her and told her how much I loved her. I thanked her for all she had done for me and taught me in the last thirty three years. Then I sang her some hymns from that old hymnal and read Psalm 23 over and over to her.

It was during one of these readings that Mom taught me her last lesson: all that mattered to her at the end was her family and faith. Nothing else she had accomplished in life could help her now.

Her life purpose, or Life Quest, had been to nurture relationships with her family and others and to live and grow in her faith. This quest served her well throughout her life right up to her final moments.

The best lessons in life are caught not taught, and the final lesson I caught from my mother was that I needed to establish a Life Quest to guide me throughout my life. It was a wonderful gift to receive this lesson early in my adult life.


“Goals are important, but they are simply milestones along the way that lead us toward or away from our Life Quest.”


You may think you have a Life Quest. Become Vice President of my company or Chairman of the county blood drive. Buy a big house on a lake. Retire to the beach. Have a happy family. These aren’t Life Quests. These are goals you want to achieve. Goals are important, but they are simply milestones along the way that lead you toward or away from your Life Quest.

Why have a Life Quest?
• Clarifies the purpose of your life
• Guides major life decisions
• Helps establish the values by which you will live
• Directs your focus toward how you will impact the world, not what you will receive from it
• Helps focus your energy and activity from the urgent to the important

Life Quest Considerations
• What are you passionate about?
• What skills, talents and knowledge do you have that can help others?
• Without considering income, what is your dream job?
• After you are gone from this life, what do you hope people will say about you?
• What legacy do you want to leave?
• Involve the people in your life who are most important to you in the process of establishing your Life Quest.
• Spend time considering this list. The sooner you realize your Life Quest the more impact your life will have on the world.

Example Life Quests
Teach disadvantaged youth the skills, and instill the desire needed, to secure and keep a job that will support them and their family

• Assist people reaching retirement age to set goals for the next phase of their life and develop action plans to achieve those goals

• Use my role as a high school football and basketball coach to develop leadership and character in young men to impact how they will lead in their homes, careers and communities

My Life Quest is to use my skills, talents and knowledge to help others realize and achieve their full potential. Hopefully this blog will help you do that.

What is your Life Quest?