North(ish)

I was asked to write a blog post this week for the Zoë Website. The topic is the concept of Northish which has been a driving force in the development of the Zoë platform. So, I thought I’d share it here. (Full disclosure: my friend Pete Paulson gets credit for coining the term Northish – it came out of a conversation we had several years ago.) The Zoë blog posting…

As an adult that has worked with high school and college-aged young people for several decades, I have to wonder if we haven’t done them a disservice as they think about their futures.  I have witnessed a lot of angst as they try to figure out what direction to head or as they struggle searching for their niche in the world.  We really see the prevalence of angst in recent years, given the steadily increasing costs of post-secondary education.

I wonder if the angst comes from the culture we live in, especially in our western culture.  We are results-driven people.  We tend to focus on outcomes and miss the value of the journey and learning along the way toward realizing those outcomes.  Our young emerging adults especially feel this.  Since the adults around them live with outcome-based definitions of success, it gets transferred onto our young people (unintentionally or maybe intentionally).  We talk about winning, scoring well on tests, “getting it right,” etc., looking for “due-North.” 

Emerging adults learn well from us – wanting to “get it right.”  Thus the angst!

In more recent years, I’ve been talking with young people about a perspective that I like to call “Northish.”  What is Northish, you might ask?  Well, it’s not “due north,” that’s for sure.  Northish is more about setting a general direction.  Northish is more like asking the question, “Do I want to go to Canada or to Mexico?”  If I want to go to Canada, I wouldn’t get on a freeway heading south.  I would take roads that generally head toward Canada – NorthishNorthish isn’t about “getting it right.”  It’s about getting the general direction figured out.  The concept of Northish starts one on a journey that leads toward self-discovery.  The journey is as important as (I would argue more important than) the outcome.  Northish is freeing, giving one the freedom to adjust and tweak along the way.

We would do our emerging adults a great service if we help them toward discovering their Northish; if we help them learn the general direction they might want to head; if we help them find a sense of purpose.  Enter Zoë!  What I like about Zoë is that it’s a platform that helps people find their Northish.  Zoë reinforces a message that it is all about the user’s journey toward finding their purpose in the world.  It helps the user discover who they are and what they value, pointing them toward a life of purpose and meaning.  Purpose isn’t a destination; it’s a direction.  Northish!   

The above posting is obviously about young emerging adults. But aren’t we all still emerging – especially when related to our faith? Studies show that only one in three adults know their purpose, can describe their Northish. Pay close attention to what Jesus said and did. I would argue that he encouraged people to find Northish. In a world that often focuses on “getting it right,” may God help you find your Northish.

Jesus – “I have come that they might have life (zoe) and have it to the full.”

(John 10:10)

Published by

Curt Hinkle

I am a practical theologian. A theology that doesn't play out in one's everyday life is impractical, or of no real use. A simple definition of theology is the attempt to understand God and what he is up to, allowing us to join him in his work.

One thought on “North(ish)”

  1. Good thoughts, Curt. I would add that the concept of “true north” wasn’t about a single correct path but rather about the concept of an objective measure beyond oneself. (Hence the compass analogy.) Thanks again for sharing!

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