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August 6, 2020Interviews

One-on-One with John Kingston on ‘American Awakening’

Timeless truths guide the path to restoration of the soul, meaningful purpose and finding true community.
One-on-One with John Kingston on ‘American Awakening’
Image: Zondervan

Ed: In your book, you talk about how you and your family created a mission statement to define your purpose. How do you think we as individuals can find purpose?

John: We in modern society, including many Christians, mistakenly think that we are wired for happiness. We buy into the lie that the more successful we get, the happier we will be. But the reality is that we are wired for a much deeper and more meaningful purpose that God created us to fulfill when He placed us on the planet. Finding our purpose comes from understanding why God made us and who He made us to be.

Ed: In that same vein, you say that people need less than they might think. Can you give us an example of how more does not necessarily mean more?

John: Warren Buffet is an excellent example of this principle. He purchased his humble home in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1950s, and still lives there today. Even after the hundreds of millions of dollars he has accrued, he made the choice to not go bigger with his living. I think he is a man who understands that the chase for more and more stimulation is endless and can never truly satisfy us. As Americans, it’s so easy to become trapped in the idea that we will never have and can never be enough. For people of faith, we must cling to and live out the truth that God made us different. He is the Living Water. After we consume Him, we long for nothing else. Our thirst is quenched. He’s enough. We don’t need more of anything but only God.

Ed: How does this struggle for purpose and enough-ness play into our current COVID-19 world?

John: We’ve seen how the negative effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated different existing issues in American society, namely that we are depressed, isolated and anxious despite belonging to the most prosperous nation in the world. And we have to do something about this, because, for the last three years, life expectancy has gone down in our country. What I call “deaths of despair” are going up because of these negative emotions brought on by the sense of purposelessness, but also by a lack of connection. I think one thing COVID-19 has shown us is that virtual “connection” is no substitute for the real thing. It’s an incredible blessing in many ways, but we as humans are wired for community. Nothing can erase that, and no substitute can replace it.

Ed: In your book, you discuss how we are more alike than different. How so?

John: When I was running for public office in 2018, I was privileged to have an incredibly diverse management team, both ethnically and politically. It was a great blessing to have so many perspectives represented, but this is rare across society. We’ve mistakenly come to believe that our greatest issues are party-centric and that anyone who opposes our opinion is the bad guy. But our greatest concerns, such as taking care of veterans, caring for orphans, reforming education, etc., are not specific to Republicans or Democrats, but are American issues. These affect our country at a fundamental level, and we won’t make any headway so long as we obsess ourselves with who belongs to what party.

At the end of the day, we are more alike than we care to admit. True progress will only be made when we embrace our common ground rather than focus on what makes us different.

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One-on-One with John Kingston on ‘American Awakening’