Leader of New York City's 40,000-member Christian Cultural Center, the Rev. A.R. Bernard dug into the subject of purpose, love and belief with media mogul Oprah Winfrey this week to explain how love changed him and why he believes everyone has a God-given calling.
"Absolutely," Bernard responded when Winfrey asked him if he believed that everybody has a calling in an appearance on OWN's "Super Soul Sunday."
"You know the Prophet Jeremiah began to look at his own deficiencies when he got the calling and he saw his youthfulness, he saw his inability to articulate and communicate well. And the scripture says, 'Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you and called you to be a prophet to the nations.' So here, this man has been called by God, he has a whole life designed and laid out before him that he knows nothing about, now he has to trust the one who designed that life for him," Bernard explained.
When Winfrey asked how people can find their calling, Bernard said you first have to believe that your life has purpose.
"First, we have to believe that we do have a purpose. It goes back to that eternity in their hearts. We all have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose and when we begin to think that way, we appreciate the sacredness of all life and not be destructive to any aspect of life. We respect people better," the New York City pastor replied.
Impressed by Bernard's insight, Winfrey said that while she shared his position on purpose, she felt people sometimes conflated purpose with fame or notoriety.
"You know, what I think is so fascinating is that I believe that is true but I think a lot of people confuse purpose with fame or notoriety. They think, 'Oh, if it's my purpose then I should know what that is and everybody else should also know what that is. And I should be known for whatever that purpose is.' Right?" she replied.
"Too often people think purpose is static. It's that one thing for which I was born, but what happens if you achieve that at age 27? You have no reason to live beyond that, purpose is not static, purpose is dynamic. Purpose continues to be applied throughout your life," he said as Oprah called the statement a "tweetable moment."
"Your gifts and talents and abilities that are given to you by God, that remains consistent throughout your life, but how you apply that changes as you live life from one level to another, as you go through stages of life," he continued.
"Aristotle said, 'At the intersection, where your gifts talents and abilities meet a human need, therein you discover your purpose. How many times, how many intersections do we meet in life? Many," Bernard said.
The former banker told Winfrey earlier in the interview that he first began to sense his own calling soon after he had a life-changing encounter with God.
"I can look back with the knowledge that I have now and understand that the call begins early in life, before you even know God. He has His hands on you, He has a design for your life and it's something that you discover. Within the first year of this newfound Christianity, this newfound spirituality, I no longer felt the same passion and love for the finance industry. I began to see the world through a whole new lens. My worldview was changed," he said.
And love, he said, is really what made the difference.
"I got touched with love and that was deep and profound because we all suffer from the inability to love and be loved," Bernard explained. "We don't know what love really is and it is there that I discovered that love is the ability to extend yourself to others expecting nothing in return."