So the alarm clock goes off in the morning, what do you do? Do you get straight out of bed, bound out of bed, with fabulous energy? Or do you slap the snooze button and roll over? You slap the snooze button, you roll over, you think, “I get a few more minutes of sleep.” What just happened? No big deal, right? You just slapped the snooze button. You just took a few extra minutes of sleep. Wrong.
Resistance just kicked your butt. Okay, that's your first decision of the day. It's your first victory or loss of every single day. And resistance just kicked your butt. That's what resistance does to us. Resistance is that sluggish feeling that stops us from doing the things that we know are good for us. It's that sense that, "I don't want to do that," even though we know it's the thing we should do. Sometimes it's the sense that, "You know what, I'm going to do whatever I want even though I absolutely know it's the wrong thing to do." That's resistance too, and resistance is a big part of the reason why we often feel like we're our own worst enemy. Resistance is a big part of the reason why we often feel like happiness is just outside of our reach. Lent is, I guess in some ways, sort of a funny time to be talking about happiness. But not really. You know, because it's important to understand that God created us for happiness. You know, you open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the first point in the first chapter, which I think turns out to be point 27 because of the preamble: God created man for happiness. You know, man's greatest desire is for happiness because God created us for happiness.
You have to remember that what happened on Good Friday, what happened on Good Friday, was designed to restore the possibility of happiness for you and me. Not only in this life, but in the next life. Not just for you and me, but for every man, woman, and child in every place and every time. Because God does have this enormous desire that we experience the happiness that he created us for. And resistance absolutely gets in the way of that happiness. It gets in the way of us accomplishing our dreams. It gets in the way of us doing what we know is good for us. It gets in the way of us being the-best-version-of-ourselves. It gets in the way of almost everything that's worthwhile. And what I want to help you discover in the days and weeks ahead, is that resistance is real. It's not just a concept. It's not just a theory. It's not just a figment of imagination. But it is something very real. We do encounter it every single day, and many, many, many times throughout the day. And it is critically important that we
learn to recognize resistance, and that we learn to conquer resistance, in those moments of the day, one moment at a time, to learn to conquer resistance.
Your Quest for Happiness
So, how did you experience resistance in the last 24 hours? You saw this reflection in your email box this morning, were you resistant to watch it? Did you put it off? Did you watch it straight away? Did you say, "Oh, I'll do that later," or "I'll do that tonight"? As we make this journey through Lent together, as we make this journey over the next forty days you're going to encounter resistance in a thousand ways in your everyday life, even in relation to this program. You’re going to be resistant to keep watching the videos, you’re going to, some days you’re going to watch the videos, but resistance is going to stop you from doing the reflection. And then the question is, if you do miss a day, what happens the next day? You get back into it, or you sort of fall down and say “oh well I’ve already missed a day, and I’ll miss again today.” Then, before you know it, you’ve missed a week and uh, and you just drop out of the program. And that’s the difference between having, really, an extraordinary Lenten journey, a phenomenal Lenten experience, and just having another Lent. That’s the difference between having the best Lent ever and just another Lent.
And so, what we’re talking about here, this concept of resistance, it’s real. It’s something we experience everyday. And it’s something we experience in relation to everything. That's really the paradox of happiness. It's that we know the things that make us happy, we just don't do them. And very often the reason we give for not doing them is because we're too busy trying to be happy. It's the stunning paradox that surrounds the desire that we all have for happiness. We want to be happy, but we don't do the things that make us happy, because we're too busy trying to be happy. And it relates to all aspects of our lives. So if you think of the four aspects of the human person (physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually), I know the things that make me happy. Physically, if I exercise regularly, and I sleep regularly, and I eat the right sorts of food, I'm just massively happier than I would be if I neglect those things. Emotionally, when I give focus and priority to the most important relationships in my life, I'm just happier. Intellectually, when I make the effort, when I have the discipline to read for a few minutes each day, my vision of myself expands, my vision of the world expands, my vision of God expands. I become more focused, more alert, more vibrant, and I'm happier. And spiritually, silence, solitude, Scripture, sacraments, they make me happier. I am a-better-version-of-myself when I spend time in these disciplines. But I can come up with a thousand reasons every day why not to do any of those things. And behind every single one of those reasons, we find resistance. And that, that’s the happiness paradox. We want to be happy. In 90% of the cases, we know the things that will make us happy, but we don't do them. Why? Resistance.
As we make this journey together, you’re going to encounter resistance in a thousand different ways. There’ll be hundreds of different temptations to do the program, not do the program, push the video back later into your day or watch the video and not do the reflection. There’ll be a lot of temptations along the way and behind all those temptations, very often, you’re going to find resistance. Here's the thing I want you to keep in mind: In every one of those situations, either resistance is going to win, or you're going to win. There's no middle ground. Either resistance wins, or you win. There's no middle ground. So you've got to, you've got to see that as a challenge. And you've got to get out there and slay resistance in the moments of the day.
Making Sense of Everything
So let me ask you something, what do you want? What do you spend your days thinking about? What do you, what do you spend your days desiring? What is it that you, you want?
You see, God, he gave you the ability to want for a reason. God wants you to want. But he wants you to want things that make you happy, that really make you happy in a deep, deep, deep way. And he wants you to want things that will help you become the-best-version-of-yourself. Obviously sometimes we’re attracted to things that don’t help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves.
Sometimes we’re attracted to things that, that give us momentary pleasures but that don’t truly make us happy in the long run. It’s a, it’s a temptation we all fall into, um, but it is a temptation we should grow out of over time as we become older. We should become wiser, and in some ways we should grow out of these temptations. We should be mindful that we’re going to encounter resistance even before resistance has occurred. Because of experience and because of wisdom that we develop over time, we should be mindful. “Oh today, where I’m most going to encounter resistance today is in the afternoon when this happens.” We should know that. In many, many cases resistance, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us. We should be mindful that it’s there. You know, when we think about the things that we want, very often we want things because we're trying to, to fill something within us. We feel restless, we feel that we're not content. We feel unfulfilled. We feel hungry for meaning in our lives. And so, a lot of the things we want are in response to that. And in our spiritual journey, one of the things that we're called to do is, is to recognize, "Ok, I want that thing, but why do I want that thing? What's the motive for wanting that thing? What is it in me that wants that thing? And what am I trying to accomplish?"
You see, you've got a hole in you. You've got a hole in you, I've got a hole in me. Pretty big hole. When we're little kids, we try to fill that hole with different things. You know, as little kids, we think, "Oh, if I get that bike, then I'll be satisfied, then I'll be fulfilled, then I'll be content." We get the bike, and it doesn't work. A few weeks later, we're not fulfilled, we want something else. We think, "Oh, if I get those running shoes!" And we get the running shoes, and that doesn't work either. As we grow older, we tend to develop these desires around social connections. We tend to think, "Oh, if this person is my best friend, or if that person if my best friend, then I'll be fulfilled, then I'll be satisfied, forever." And of course that doesn't work. As we grow into adolescents, we tend to turn our attention towards pleasure and the idea that, "Ok, if I had this pleasure, or that pleasure, or this other pleasure, or maybe all the pleasures at one time, then I'll be fulfilled, then I'll be satisfied, then I'll be content." And of course that doesn't work either. As we come into early adulthood, we tend to turn our attention toward accomplishment and the idea that, "If I can accomplish this thing, or that thing, or the other thing, or all of the things, or something great, something notable, then I'll be happy, then I'll be fulfilled, then I'll be satisfied." And of course that doesn't work either. At that point, what most people do is they just cycle back through the same cycles again. Things, people, accomplishments, money, just more, more, more. See, we've got this hole, we're trying to fill this hole that we've got within us. The problem is, it's a God-sized hole. Only God can fill it. All that other stuff we're trying to fill that hole with, all of that in some way is saying we haven't allowed God to take a big enough role in our lives. We haven’t allowed God to have a big enough role in our world. And all of that is an invitation to, to explore that.
Last Easter, um, I overheard a conversation between my oldest son Walter and his sister Isabel. Walter was, um, six, and Isabel was five. And, uh, Walter said to Isabel, “Isabel, you are just too into all this Jesus stuff.” Isabel can hold her own, so she said, “well, you know, Walter, Easter is all about Jesus. So it’s good to be into Jesus.” Walter said, “well, I am just more interested in the chocolate eggs and the chocolate bunnies.” And I’m standing outside the door and I thought to myself, man that is life. That is life. Sometimes we’re into the God thing, and sometimes we’re just more interested in the chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies. Where are you at the moment? Where are you at the moment? Because it’s only by placing God at the center of our lives that things start to make sense. If you feel confused, if you feel a little bit lost, if you feel just even a little disoriented in your life, chances are something other than God is at the center of your life right at this moment. And so the question becomes, "How do you get God back at the center of your life?" Because when God's at the center of our lives, everything makes sense. What we tend to do is, we tend to say, "Ok, God I'll do whatever you want, I'm a hundred percent available." And we put God right at the center of our lives. And then little by little, we take everything back from God. You know, little by little, we just sort of move God over a little bit each day. And then we realize, we're back at the center of our lives, or something else is back at the center of our lives. And so, this is a great time for us to say, "Ok, what is at the center of my life, and what do I need to do to, to put God back at the center of my life?" And I'll give you a tip. A great way to do it is through your decisions. When you're making decisions, ask yourself, "Am I putting God at the center of this decision?"
Resting in God
I think one of the most interesting things for me, around this whole topic of resistance, and resisting happiness, is that when we resist happiness, we resist God. And when we resist happiness, we resist the-best-version-of-ourselves. When you think about how much energy goes into being the best you can be in different parts of your life, and then you think about the idea of actively resisting what is good for you, actively resisting goodness Himself, and actively resisting, sort of the best you. It really is sort of a fascinating thing that shows that, that we are all a little bit sick. And that we are all, um, in need of the divine doctor, because we’ve got some very strange things going on in our heads from time to time, and we act in very counterintuitive ways at time. We act in very counter logical ways at some time, and we’re aware of it. And that’s, it’s that idea that we’re aware of it, that we say “okay, this is a bad idea, but guess what, I’m going to do it anyway.” It’s a fascinating part of our lives and it’s really important that we become aware of it because otherwise, we look at the world and we say “ah, look at those stupid things people are doing over there.” It’s the same thing. They are experiencing exactly the same thing that you and I experience, almost everyday of our lives.
The danger is when we see people doing stupid things, the danger is of course to judge the person rather than the stupid thing that they’re doing. But the real danger is not to be able to see ourselves in that person and in what that person is doing. Because every single one of us, every single day, does things that we know we shouldn’t be doing. We do things that we know are not good for us. We do things that we know don’t help us become the-best-version-of-ourselves. We do things that don’t bring us closer to God.
Have you ever wanted something for somebody more than they wanted it for themselves? It's really the classic dilemma of a parent. I think as parents we, we want good things for our kids, you know? And very often we want good things for them more than they even want them for themselves. I think it’s the classic dilemma of any type of leader. I think it's the classic dilemma of any type of coach or mentor. We fall into this, this idea of wanting something for somebody else more than they want it for themselves. You know, at my consulting company, we've got all these coaches. We've got life coaches, we've got business coaches, we've got executive coaches. And one of the things I'm constantly trying to say to the coaches is, one of the biggest challenges you're going to have is that you're going to see what is possible in people, and you are going to want what is possible more than the people themselves. Of course as a coach, as a parent, as a leader, as a mentor, you can cross a line where you get too involved, where you start to do things for them, rather than empowering them to do those things for themselves.
This emotion we feel, this dilemma we experience, it's Godlike. It's what God experiences every day with you and me. He sees what's possible, and then he sees who we are and the lives we're living. He sees what's possible in you, he sees what’s possible with your life, and most of the time, he wants it more for you and me than we want it for ourselves. That's the great parental frustration. And it's one of God's great frustrations. It’s that he wants things for us more than we want them for ourselves. He wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself more than you even want it for yourself. He wants Heaven for you more than you even want heaven for yourself. But he never crosses that line. That's free will, and that's an incredible love. There's an incredible love in that free will not to cross that line, and there's a thousand lessons in all of this for us, but let's focus on this one today: Let's ask God to give us the desire for goodness, the desire for being the-best-version-of-ourselves, the desire for Heaven, the desire that for everything that's good, right, noble, and just, to fill us with that desire. To help us to desire it as much as he desires it for us. To help us see the possibilities the way he sees the possibilities.
Life Is Messy
When I first started speaking and writing I was, I was 19 years old, I look back on those times now and I was just so naive. I’d grown up in sort of a bubble. Didn’t really have that much of an idea about what was going on out in the world, and then I would start to travel, and I was travelling and speaking and writing and, and meeting a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds and, and a lot of different countries. And, what you realize very quickly I think is that life is messy. You know, life is messy. And it's sort of one of the great themes of this 25 years of speaking and writing for me, is the idea that life really is messy. And I can have these very clear and logical ideas in the solitude of my writing place, but real people in real places have to live them in real ways in the midst of what is very often a very, very messy world.
It impacts me in a few ways. One is the, uh, desire to share ideas in simpler ways, ideas that are, I mean, immensely practical, that are just really helpful to people’s lives. And to do the work and to make the effort to make those ideas as simple, as poignant as possible, so they can really resonate in the reader’s life. But the other response is just prayer. Just, you meet people, they share with you some of their deepest secrets, some of their biggest struggles, and uh, the only response to that’s uh, has got to be prayer I think. At Dynamic Catholic, we invite the Ambassadors each month to submit prayers, and I get a report at the end of each week with all the prayers on them. And it's amazing, you know, it's astounding it is . . . I mean, it is just, I can't even put in words what it feels like to sit in the chapel and read through those prayer requests. I cannot get through a set of those prayer requests without tears. It's just not possible. You just, you couldn't be human. And I think the lesson is that everyone’s struggling with something. I love reading, uh, biographies and autobiographies. I just find looking at a person's whole life, um, is really powerful. I think very often our temptation is to look at one part of our life or one part of somebody else’s life. And when you can step back and look at a whole person, and their whole life, I think it is, it gives phenomenal perspective. I was reading Bob Dylan’s a few years ago, and he was talking about his grandmother and how she used to give him sort of wisdom and perspective, and I think had this sage type role in Dylan’s life. And one of the things he talks about that he said to her after he started travelling and touring, she said to him, you know, “be kind to everybody, because everybody you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.” And it’s true. Everyone is struggling with something, you know, and uh, we send out the Christmas cards, right? And everything looks great in the Christmas card, but behind every Christmas card, there’s a hundred stories, and every person in the Christmas card is struggling with something. Everyone’s struggling with something. I remember when I first got cancer, you know, I remember walking out of the doctor's office after he told me I had cancer, and my head was just spinning, and my realization was nothing else in the world has changed. Everyone is just going around their business, going about doing their thing. And nobody knows what you're struggling with, and nobody knows what I'm struggling with. We're all struggling with something.
And I think it's important that we realize that everyone's carrying a heavy burden. It’s important that we realize everyone’s struggling with something. It's important that we realize that everyone is fighting a hard battle. Because when we do realize that, we treat people differently. We treat people differently. So be gentle with yourself, because you've got your own struggle, and be gentle with other people, because everybody is fighting a hard battle. Because life is messy.
Something Is Missing
Do you ever get the feeling that uh, something's missing in your life? It's good. It's good that you get that feeling. It's, it's, it’s good that we get that feeling. It's uh, it's an expression of dissatisfaction. And I think in a lot of ways we're taught that, um, to be dissatisfied is a bad thing. I think in a lot of ways we're taught to, you know, not necessarily talk about our dissatisfaction. The problem with that is that it prevents us sometimes from really looking at our dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction is a powerful voice that God uses to speak to us at different times in our lives. And so today what I really want you to look at is, what is missing in your life?
You know, when you think about your life, when you think about what's working well, what's not working well, what do you like in your life, or what don't you like in your life, what are you dissatisfied with? What do you feel like is missing in your life at this time? Or what are you dissatisfied with, and what is God saying to you through that?
You know, God speaks to us every day of our lives in a thousand different ways. And part of our spiritual journey is about recognizing the different ways. St. Ignatius was an incredible champion of awareness. You know, in his spiritual exercises he talks about how, um, God speaks to us even through our emotions, you know. So if you get really happy, God is saying to you something through that happiness. But if you get really mad, you want to throw something, or kick something, God's saying something to you through that as well. And so, yes, God speaks to us through the Scriptures. Yes, God speaks to us through the life of the Church. Yes, God speaks to us through other people, some of them wise and some of them not. God sends unlikely messages at unlikely times through unlikely messengers. But God is constantly speaking to us, and he speaks to us through our dissatisfaction. So at those times in your life when you feel like something is missing, don’t ignore that. Don't push that aside. Don't skip over that. Don't pretend that's not there. God is speaking into you. God is speaking into your life.
So what do you feel is missing today? What are you dissatisfied with in your life today? And what do you think God is saying to you through that dissatisfaction?
The Big Question
One of the key moments in my life was when I was around 15 years old, and I was sitting in church, and I was struggling with something. And I stumbled upon the question, you know, "God what do you think I should do in this situation?" And it really became a turning point in my life. I call it the big question. "God what do you think I should do?" I think it’s a question that we don't ask anywhere near as often as we should. I think very often we ask the wrong people for advice. When we're struggling with something in our lives, or when we really have a decision to make, I think very often we go to people who know almost nothing about nothing and we ask them what they think we should do, rather than going to the one who has the answer to every question and saying, "Hey God, what do you think I should do?"
If I could only do one thing, you know, if I had to narrow everything I do down to one thing, if Dynamic Catholic could only do one thing, if we had to narrow everything we do down to one thing, I would teach people how to develop a daily habit of prayer. It's the whole ball game. A lot of other things will come from that, but without that, a lot of other things will never come at all. They'll never develop. If you really want to grow spiritually, if you really want to have a better life, if you really want to have a better marriage, be a better parent, whatever it is that's important in your life, if you really want it to change, and grow, and be transformed, I'm telling you, develop a daily habit of prayer. It will change your life, it has changed lives, it will change your life. It's the thing. When it comes to everything we’re talking about.
You want to slay resistance? Develop a daily habit of prayer. Whatever it is that you feel called to accomplish in this phase of your life or this stage of your life, nothing is going to help you accomplish that more than developing a daily habit of prayer or renewing a daily habit of prayer. It’s the thing. And you know what? We resist it. Man, do we resist it. We find excuses, after excuse, after excuse, after excuse. We find excuses. We've got so many excuses about why we can’t pray, daily, why we can't pray at the same time every day, or in the same place every day. And of course very often I encourage people to stop by their church. Spend a few minutes. There's something very, very powerful about spending a few minutes in a quiet, empty church. People say, "Oh I'm real busy and I can't do that." "What about once a week, could you do once a week?" "Well I don't know, I've got a lot of things going on and . . . " If I put a thousand dollars in cash in an envelope, and stuffed it in the song book in the seventh row on the left-hand side of the church, and told you I'd put the same thousand dollars there every Thursday, all you have to do is stop by and spend ten minutes in prayer, when's the next time you think you'd miss a Thursday?
You see, everything's a matter of priorities. Everything's a matter of priorities. We do the things that we believe are most important. The problem is, sometimes we're confused about what's most important. Prayer, daily prayer. Create a habit. It's different for different people. I'm not going to say you have to do this, I'm not going to say you have to do that. I do know, if you’re trying to do it for the first time, The Prayer Process is very, very, very powerful. But create a habit of prayer, it'll change your life. And it will increase your ability to fight resistance. But, beware. You will experience more resistance around trying to create a daily habit of prayer than anything else. Resistance will do everything within its power to stop you from establishing a daily habit of prayer because resistance knows that if you create this daily habit of prayer, resistance is in big trouble.
One of the things that I'm amazed at in our culture today, and I suppose it's always been there to some extent, is the things that God gets blamed for. People will say to me, "Well, I don't go to church anymore because my brother died." Or, "I don't go to church anymore because I saw this situation in Haiti and I thought, "How could a god ever, you know, let that happen?" Or, "I don't go to church anymore," or, "I don't believe in God anymore because of this, or that, or the other thing." It's astounding the things that God gets blamed for. And every time I hear about these things, what I realize is that the god that these people believe in, or don't believe in, is vastly different to the God that I have experienced and the God that I believe in.
And so, I think it is really, really important at times to step back and take another look at our image of God. How do we see God? You know, what is God really like? What are the qualities of God that loom largest in your heart, in your mind, in your life? Because the way we see God has an enormous influence on our spirituality, it has an enormous influence on the way we relate with other people, and it has an enormous influence on our lives. How do you see God? One of the things I'd really encourage you to do today is sit down and just write down a list of God's qualities. You know, what are the qualities of God that affect your image of God the most? How do you see God? How do you experience God? How have you experienced God at different times in your life? How have you seen God at different times in your life? I think it's a good exercise to sit down and say, “OK, what was my image of God when I was five years old? What was my image of God when I was 15 years old? What was my image of God at different times in my life? How has my image of God evolved, or not?” Because sometimes it doesn't. And if we really take this exercise seriously, we will realize that. For better or for worse. Sometimes we are hanging on to an image of God that we developed as a child, or as a teenager, and that image of God is misaligned with reality.
And so I do think it's very, very powerful, very, very valuable, for us to step back from time to time and reassess our image of God. Reassess: How do we see God? How do we experience God? The reason, or one of the reasons, is because the whole idea of Christian spirituality surrounds four words: Thy will be done. Thy will be done. And if you think God's a tyrant, you're certainly not going to carry out his work here on earth. If you think God's a dictator, you're certainly not going to further his will by doing his will in your own place, in your own time. In order for us really to live out our Christianity, in order for us to be able to surrender to that idea of “Thy will be done,” but surrender in a really active way, not, "Oh, OK I give up," but, "Oh, OK I get it. I'll surrender to that, and I will proactively, with all my effort and energy and intention, go out and try and bring about this will." In order for that, we have to have a really strong and positive image of God. And that really strong and positive image of God, even if you had it, even if you have it, it's constantly being challenged by many voices and influences in this world. Thy will be done. I will do the will of God. That’s the chant of the saints. I’ll do the will of God when it’s convenient and when it isn’t. I’ll do the will of God when it’s what I want to do, and I’ll do the will of God when it isn’t what I want to do. I’ll do the will of God when it’s beneficial to me, and I’ll do the will of God when it costs me something, even when those costs are unimaginable. That’s the chant of the saints. That’s what the saints have been doing for 2000 years. They’ve been doing the will of God. They’ve been putting the will of God above their own self centered interests so that other people’s lives could be better, and so the world could become more and more how God imagined it for us from the beginning. And it’s a beautiful thing when we see that in people’s lives.
I think especially in our culture, it can be so caught up in, you know, self interest. When we see people who set that aside to the benefit of others, to the benefit of the whole world it’s attractive. Because at the end of the day there really is nothing more attractive than holiness. There really is nothing more attractive than someone who says “yes, I will do God’s work on Earth, in my own limited way, in my own little place, I will do whatever God wants me to do today.” That’s a beautiful thing.
Are You Spiritually Healthy?
So let me ask you a question. Are you healthy? And when I ask the question, what do you think about? You probably think about physical health, right? "OK, how healthy am I physically?" and, "How's my blood pressure?" And, "How's my cholesterol?" and . . . these sorts of things. But are you spiritually healthy? It's interesting, I think we, we almost never talk about it. We talk a lot about the health of the body, you know, which, let’s face it, at some point is going to be just buried in the ground, and, you know, that'll be that. But the soul lives on forever, and we almost, we almost never talk about soul health. We almost never talk about spiritual health. And one of the things that Dynamic Catholic is all about, one of the things that this program is all about, it's about helping people become spiritually healthy, or healthier.
Do you know when you are spiritually healthy? Can you tell, some days you're spiritually healthier than other days? Because that's the kind of awareness that God wants to give us. I think we can tell some days we're physically healthier than other days. God wants us to have that same sort of perspective on our soul, on our spiritual health. For me, one of the easiest ways to measure spiritual health is how easily I get frustrated. When I’m, when I’m spiritually healthy, nothing bothers me. When I’m spiritually healthy, nothing bothers me, anything can happen, crisis, problem, whatever. Nothing bothers me when I’m spiritually healthy. And it’s a really good barometer for me. Cause other days I’ll realize, man, that was the smallest thing, and it really frustrated me. And that my response was disproportionate to what just happened, and I realize, I’m not spiritually healthy today. I am not spiritually healthy today. And you think about all the things that we do spiritually, think about just going to church on Sunday, part of going to church on Sunday is just about taking our temperature, taking our blood pressure, spiritually, working out where we are spiritually, and what do we need to do to become a little healthier in the spiritual life.
One of our reasons for our obsession with the physical over the spiritual is because the immediate impact that the neglect of our physicality has. If you don't eat, you die in a few days. You don't breathe, you die even quicker. And so we are obsessed in some ways with the physical because there are very dire consequences to ignoring the physical realities of the human person. But we do have these spiritual realities as well. And they play out in different ways. And when we do become spiritually unhealthy, I think one of the things is that it distorts our personality. You know, it distorts our personality in ways that affects us from doing what God's called us to do, being the person God created us to be, and from relating with other people in healthy ways. I think sometimes we do meet people and they can’t seem to get on with anybody, they seem to upset everybody, and there’s something about those people, their personality has become distorted in some way. It’s stopped them from relating, you know, in regular ways with people with a certain goodness, in a certain positivity, in a certain willingness to serve other people and each each other. We all have questions that are on our minds. Questions that are in our hearts, you know. But, at the end of the day I think that a lot of life comes down to four questions: Who am I? What am I here for? What matters most? And what matters least? If you look at your day yesterday, did you spend most of your time on the things that matter most? Or did you get distracted by a million little things that don't really mean anything to anyone that significant? It happens to us all the time. And not just a day, you could go a whole week and then look back and think, “Wow, I didn't really do anything important this week. I didn't really spend any time on the things that matter most this week.” And worse than that, it could be a month, or it could be a year. Who are you? What are you here for? What matters most? What matters least? The answers to these questions take a long time to develop. And one of the ways we develop them is through this daily habit of prayer.
Yes, we're resistant to establishing this daily habit of prayer, but by establishing a daily habit of prayer, a few minutes each day, 10 minutes a day, I’ve been . . . for 25 years I've been encouraging people to spend 10 minutes a day in prayer. By establishing this daily habit of prayer, God will, very powerfully, answer those four questions. He will show you who you are, and what you're here for, and what matters most, and what matters least.
Get Busy Living
When I was a kid, I don't know, maybe 9, 10 years old, I used to be in this choir at school, and we used to sing at funerals. We used to sing at funerals all the time, I don't know, once a week or something, we'd be singing at a funeral. And for some reason, it really had an impact on me. And, it really, I don’t know, just sort of put in my mind the idea that life really is short, and that we do all end up dying, and that we are, we're only passing through this place. We are pilgrims. You know, this is not home. You know, this is just, we're just passing through here. And, it is easy to forget that. It's easy to get caught up in life and forget that this, all of this, is temporary, and that we're just passing through here. And some people might say, "Well that’s a bit dark," or, "That's a bit grim," or, "That’s a bit depressing," or whatever. But I don't feel that way at all. I think that it is actually very, very healthy for us to spend some time thinking about death, from time to time.
As we make this journey toward Easter, and especially when we go into Holy Week, we will spend some time thinking about death. We'll spend some time . . .The Church, in her wisdom, will challenge us to think about death. And there's another instance of the genius of Catholicism, because when we think about death, and, you know, there’s another instance of the genius of Catholicism because when we think about death we actually live differently. When we think about death we live differently. You know, we go to Church on Sunday and one of the things that I, I just notice more and more and more is that I go to church on Sunday, every Sunday I go to church, and God tries to rearrange my priorities. I go back out into the world, my priorities get all messed up, come back the next Sunday, God tries to rearrange my priorities again, He tries to put my priorities back in order, you see, God loves order. God loves order, He loves peace, He loves order, He loves happiness, He loves joy. And the world very often robs us of those things and replaces those things with um, chaos and confusion. God loves order and clarity, but the world very often can fill us with chaos and confusion.
We come to church, you know, God tries to rearrange our priorities. When you read the Gospels, when you read the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it is impossible not to have to either accept the Gospel, or reject the Gospel. And in accepting the Gospel, what happens? The Gospel wants to massively overhaul our priorities. When you fall in love, love rearranges our priorities. That’s what love does. And when you think about death, death rearranges our priorities. If you knew you had three years to live, what would you change on your schedule this year? If you knew you had three years to live, what would you change on your schedule this week? It changes things, doesn't it? And so from time to time, it's just really healthy for us to think about death.
At Dynamic Catholic, there are three qualities that I always want every team member to have and every team member to be growing in: committed, coachable, and aware. You can tell if someone’s committed or not committed, right? It’s sort of a binary thing. I saw, um, Steven Spielberg interviewed a few years ago and he said that, um, you can’t really put a movie on a scale to one or ten. He said that the movies either work or they don’t. It’s like a binary language. And, and the same thing’s with our commitment. You can’t sort of be sort of committed, you’re either committed or you’re not. And the second quality, coachable, you know, champions love coaching. Champions love coaching, they love getting you inside so they can grow, so they can become better. And the third quality, aware. You know, are we aware of how what we’re doing or what we’re saying is affecting the people around us. What I want to talk to you about is this third quality of awareness. It's one of the incredible gifts that God wants to give us and increase in us gradually as we grow spiritually. Most of us have awareness in hindsight. Most of us can look at something that happened last Christmas and say, "Ah, I get it now. When he said that to her and she said that to him, what was really going on was this." That's awareness in hindsight. What God wants to give us, he wants to, to give us an extraordinary gift really is the gift of present moment awareness. He wants us to be aware of things while they're actually happening.
So right now you're experiencing this message. Are you here? Are you thinking about what you have to do today? Are you thinking about something that has already happened today? Or are you here? He wants to give us incredible present moment awareness. He wants us to be aware of things that are happening while they're actually happening. You know, he doesn't want you to look back on some experience of your granddaughter coming up and giving you a kiss, three weeks from now, he wants, when your granddaughter comes up and gives you that kiss. He wants you to be completely absorbed in that moment. He wants you to be aware of it while it's actually happening. When you walk up to receive Jesus in the Eucharist at church this Sunday, he wants you to be completely aware of what is happening in that moment, while it's actually happening. He wants you to have life in every breath. He wants you to taste every mouthful of food, and he wants you to taste every drop of water. He wants you to have this astounding awareness.
Like any of these great spiritual gifts, we tend to find it very attractive. You know, when I talk about personal clarity and knowing who we are, and what we’re here for and what matters most and what matters least and the personal clarity that comes with that, people are like “yeah, great, give me that,” or “how do I get that?” or “sign me up for that.” You know, when we talk about this kind of awareness, this incredible present moment awareness, I think it’s the same thing. I think it’s like “yes, give me some of that.” And of course there’s hard work involved. How do we, how do we, develop this awareness? We develop the awareness by giving our full and complete attention to whoever and whatever is before us right now.
You know, I uh, I had a friend who spent a lot of time with Mother Teresa, and I asked her one day, I said, um, what was your favorite thing about Mother Teresa? She said to me, she said, “it didn’t matter what was going on in her life, if you were talking to her, it was like it was only you and her in the whole world. There was nothing else in the world, she just gave you her full attention for that time. Whether that time was three seconds or three minutes or an hour, she just was completely engaged in you.” And, when you think about the idea of all the things that must’ve been on her mind, all the things and people that must have been pulling her in a hundred different directions, and to have that ability just to give her complete attention to whoever was right in front of her at that moment, is really an astounding thing. That’s a way for us to practice awareness.
The great enemy of awareness: multitasking. Multitasking, which has been completely, sort of, defunked by scientists as not actually saving us time. We don’t actually accomplish more through multitasking, but we are addicted to multitasking. And multitasking is the great enemy of awareness. So if you want to grow in awareness, two things: 1)When you're with people, give them 100% of your attention, and 2) Stop multitasking. Whatever you're doing, give it 100% of your attention, get it done, and then move on to the next thing.
There’s a lot of different ways to think about life. There’s a lot of different ways to think about living. And I was, I was reading something about music a couple of years ago, and I saw the idea of like this soulful music. And I thought to myself, you know, “What does it mean to live soulfully?” You know? And When I think of living soulfully I think of something sort of unique and handmade, not mass produced. But I think we can stop living soulfully. I think we can start living in a mass-produced way. And when we do that, we actually lose ourselves.
God has this incredible dream. He wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself. It’s an astounding dream when you think about it. It’s the dream every parent has for their children. They want them to reach all their potential, to become all they can be, to become the-best-version-of-themselves. And, of course, every day I make decisions that don’t help me become the-best-version-of-myself. You know? I wrote this stuff—I write this stuff, but that’s the struggle we have with our humanity, right? You’ve got your things you’re struggling with, I’ve got my things I’m struggling with. And guess what? Every single day I do things that I know, when I’m doing them, will not help me become the-best-version-of-myself.
Part of this great spiritual journey we’re on is minimizing the number of times that happens each day. You know, there are certain things we do that we know help us become the-best-versions-of-ourselves. There are certain things we do that we know don’t help us become the-best-versions-of-ourselves. So to increase the former and decrease the latter… and sometimes people, when they want to change something in their life, they’ll focus and focus and focus on the behavior they want to stop doing. And that tends never to work. Bad habits need to be crowded out of our lives with good habits. So if there is something you want to stop doing, you've got to crowd it out with other good things that do actually help you become the-best-version-of-yourself. And I guess it’s probably important for us not to assume that you want to become the-best-version-of-yourself. It’s probably important for us to pause and think about the question today, “Hey, is that important to me? Do I want to become a-better-version-of-myself today? Do I want to be able to look back a year from now and say, ‘I’m a-better-version-of-myself today than I was a year ago’?” The reason that I think it should be important to us, well one of the reasons, because there’s obviously many reasons, but one of the reasons I think it should be really important to us is because when we're striving to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, we tend to be living soulfully. And you know when you’re living soulfully, and you know when you’re not. But when we’re striving to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, that’s when we’re most fully alive.
You know, Jesus said in John’s Gospel, chapter 10 verse 10, “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the fullest.” Do you have that kind of life? Do you feel like you’re having life to the fullest? Do you feel like you’re experiencing life to the fullest? Do you feel like you’re becoming the-best-version-of-yourself, to the fullest? Because that’s what God wants for you. And I think deep, deep, deep down, none of us want to live a sort of generic, manufactured life. I think deep down, all of us, every single one of us, we want to live soulfully, in a way that is really beautifully hand-made, and unique, and just us. And guess what? God wants you to live soulfully like that as well.
Hour by Hour
So hopefully you’re finding these reflections helpful. Hopefully they’re speaking into you and speaking into your life in a really practical way. I think that’s one of the things we really strive for here at Dynamic Catholic, is to speak into your life in powerful ways, but also in very, very practical ways. Ways that you can take out and live today, tomorrow, the next day.
One of the things that changed my life is the idea I want to talk to you about today. And when I say it changed my life, I mean it completely changed my life. It completely changed my approach to God and my faith and spirituality. And it’s the idea that everything we do as Christians can be transformed into prayer. St. Paul said, “Pray constantly.” And we obviously can’t go into church all day and just pray all the time. And even if we could go into church all day and pray all the time, then we’d have to sleep at some point. We have to go home and sleep at some point. So, what did Paul mean when he said, “Pray constantly”? What did he have in mind? And what he had in mind was this incredible idea that everything we do can be transformed into prayer. Even sleeping. We can offer our sleep as a prayer. The idea that every hour of every day can be offered to God for a different reason. And I talk to people about this in different ways. Maybe you want to set an alarm on your clock or on your phone that just beeps every hour, and every hour you just take 10 seconds and say, "Alright, God. I’m gonna offer the next hour of my life and of my work, and I’m gonna offer it to you as a prayer for my friend Joe who is struggling with cancer at this moment.” Or, “I’m gonna offer it as a prayer for this couple who is struggling in their marriage at the moment.” Or, “I’m gonna offer it for one of my children.” Or, “I’m gonna offer it for my parents.” Or, whatever. You pick any intention you want, but every day, every hour, as that alarm goes off, you just take 10 seconds to say, “Alright, God. I offer the next hour of my work, or the next hour of my life, as a prayer for this intention. It’s 10 seconds out of every hour, but it changes the way we live. It changes the way we work. And when I first heard of the idea I was still a student, and it changed the way I studied.
Because if you really think about offering an hour to God as a prayer for an intention that’s important to you, you approach that hour differently. You just approach that hour with a completely different awareness. And I think that’s part of the problem. I think part of our problem is, you know, we’re just not that conscious as we go through the days, and the weeks, and the months of our lives. And a lot of the various aspects of, you know, our Christian spirituality are just designed to wake us up. Because sometimes we really can be sleepwalking through life. And so if it’s time to do the dishes and you hate doing the dishes, well you do the dishes and you offer it as a prayer for some particular intention. And you do it well. And you pay attention to the details of the work. And you do it with joy. Even though you hate doing it, you do it with joy. And you offer that as a prayer. Maybe you hate mowing the lawn, maybe that’s your thing. But every moment of every day can be transformed into prayer. And as we grow in this awareness, it changes the way we live, but it also changes the way we love. Imagine being loved by someone who's that aware.
When you think about the people you most enjoy spending time with, when you think about the people you most enjoy conversation with, the people you find most interesting. What do those people have in common? For me, it tends to be books and reading, and that sort of thing. I find the most interesting people in my life tend to be readers. Um, and maybe that’s cause that’s something I’m interested in, and maybe that’s because there’s a thousand great books out there that I just don’t have time to read. But one of my favorite questions to ask people is, um, what are you reading at the moment? And, when I ask people what are you reading at the moment, and they say “ah, I’m reading this great book about this,” or “I’m reading this book, it’s not really that good I’m thinking about stopping reading it,” well I know I can tick that one off the list cause I was maybe thinking about reading that one but I know that maybe it’s not worth the time. But very often people can share with you in a minute, or two minutes, or five minutes, the essence of the book that might take me twenty hours to read, thirty hours to read. And so, I find I’m constantly learning things from people who are readers. In my mid- to late- teens, I started reading the Bible, and tried to develop a habit over time of reading just a chapter a day, looking at some particular point or lesson in that chapter, and reflecting on that chapter. And uh . . . and I’ve gone through periods of success and failure with that.
You know, I think that’s, that's the humanity of trying to establish any great habit in our lives. And the last thing I want to do is sit here and pretend that all of this stuff I’m talking to you about is stuff that I’ve mastered, because that absolutely is not true. And I think that the people who get to be around me every day, the people who know me, would tell you that. You know, it’s that I’m struggling with this stuff as much as it is that you are struggling with this stuff. And one of the things that I really have
struggled with over time is to keep this habit of just reading the Bible for a few minutes each day. And there are times where it, it just goes spectacularly well, and those times, it might be a whole year, it might be two years, it can be a season where it’s, it comes very naturally to me, um, I fall into it very easily. And then there are other days where it’s just, it’s a real struggle, I have to force myself to do it. And it feels, um, empty and fake and dry and like I’m not getting anything out of it, or that sort of thing. Um, and there are times when I don’t do it because, cause I’m lazy. And the thing I’ve noticed is that when I do do it, when I do make the effort, when I do break through the resistance, I tend to make better decisions. When I’m reading the Bible regularly, when I’m reflecting on the Word of God in a meaningful way, on a regular basis, I just tend to make better decisions. I’m a better decision maker.
And when you think about how important decisions are to the foundation of life, you think about how our decisions affect who we are and where we are today, and how our decisions will affect who we are and where we are a year from now, ten years from now, and beyond, it really is, you know, making choices, is one of the great building blocks of great lives. And so we should be constantly honing our ability to become phenomenal decision makers. And I think God wants us to be a phenomenal decision maker. And I think it’s one of the reasons he gives us the Bible. Because as you go through those stories you realize, “Wow! Some people make great decisions.” And, “Wow! Some people make phenomenally stupid decisions.” And, “Wow! Some people made some great decisions and some phenomenally stupid decisions, even though it was the same person.” And so I think it’s a great theme to explore the Bible with. Who made great decisions? Who made poor decisions? When was the same person making their best decisions, and when was the same person making their worst decisions, and what was different in their life at those different times? Are you a good decision maker? Do you feel like, do you feel like you’re a really good decision maker? Do you feel like your yes is a strong, passionate, purposeful yes? And do you feel like your no is a firm no? Or do you feel like you say yes to some things for the wrong reason sometimes? You know I think sometimes we say yes to stuff just cause we feel like we have to. Or sometimes we say yes to stuff cause we feel like everyone will notice if we don’t go, and I don’t know if they will or won’t notice. Maybe sometimes we say yes to stuff because we’re afraid, right? We’re afraid of disappointing people. Sometimes we say yes to stuff because we want people to like us, you know. We want everyone to like us. It’s a fascinating thing, really, when you think about it. We want everyone to like us, even the people we don’t like. We want them to like us. It’s staggering when we think about how important other people’s opinions to us are, and how little we let God’s opinion play out in our lives. It’s an extraordinary thing. The point is, we say yes to a lot of things for the wrong reasons, and we say no to a lot of things for the wrong reasons, and God wants to rectify that. He wants you to become a phenomenal decision maker.
And so here, the practical takeaway that you can start living right now, today: Read one chapter of the Bible each day. For how long? For the rest of your life. And on days when you’re struggling to do it, force yourself to do it. Break through resistance. And offer that for me so that I might do it that day, because I’m probably struggling to do it as well. Our lives change when our habits change. Read one chapter of the Bible, pick out a word or a phrase or an idea or a lesson, and just reflect on that one lesson each day. You’ll become a better decision maker.
Falling in Love
My kids are . . . they’re just little, and they’re just, you know, getting into life, and school, and things like that and . . .one of the things I’ve thought a lot about, maybe, maybe obsessed a little bit about is um, how can I help my kids to learn to love learning?” As I’ve sort of gone through my own life and my experience in different scenarios, you know, lots of experience in church and churches, lots of experience in companies and the corporate world. And one of the things I’ve realized is that being a continuous learner is a massive advantage in life. Being a continuous learner makes life more interesting. Being a continuous learner is completely wrapped up in becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves. Because when we’re constantly trying to become a better-version-of-ourselves we need more input. We need new input all the time. We need new insights, we need new awareness, we need new ideas that spark different behavior, different desires. And so I’ve recognized how critically important this concept of being a continuous learner is to really just living a fulfilling life.
But also, I think, being successful at anything. Not only just the spiritual life, but anything. I think, wherever you find excellence, you will always find people who are hungry for best practices and committed to continuous learning. Wherever you find excellence, you always find these two qualities, in any aspect of life. Excellence is always married to, sort of, hunger for best practices and commitment to continuous learning. And, I think the opposite of that is true as well. I think when you find people, you find teams, you find groups, you find organizations that are not hungry for best practices and committed to continuous learning, you tend to find mediocrity. I think it’s very, sort of, depressing to be part of something that’s mediocre like that. I think one of the reasons a lot of people are unhappy in their work is because they are part of something that’s mediocre, something that isn’t even striving to be the-best-version-of-itself, something that has just accepted the idea that, oh, we’re never going to be the-best-version-of-ourselves, so we’re just, sort of going to give in, and just, sort of, get along. And people can fall into that space as well, right? People can fall into that mindset as well, when we stop striving to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, we just sort of give in, we just sort of collapse on the idea that, ah, it’s too much work, or it’s too hard, or whatever. And I think that is depressing. I think that, that mediocrity goes hand in hand with that very, sort of a deep sadness about life and what’s ahead of us.
As Christians we’re called to be ultimate people of possibility. We’re called to be people who believe that things are possible, people who are filled with a fabulous hope. And I think in order to maintain it you really do have to be a continuous learner. And so, I got to tell you, one of the things I really am obsessed about, one of the things I struggle with and think an awful lot about is how do I help my kids learn to love learning? And I think one of the reasons I’m so, um, sort of caught up in the concept is because I, I didn’t love learning as a child. Um, for whatever reason, you know, I didn’t have sort of great teachers who taught me to love learning. And it wasn’t until I was about fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, I was working in a pharmacy. I used to ride around on my bike after school and deliver drugs, uh, to people who couldn’t get out of their house. And the pharmacist, he was a great, he became a great friend of mine. And he used to ask me these questions, and he used to say “while you’re riding around today, I want you to think about this, and then when you come back we’ll talk about it.” And then I’d come back and I’d talk about it, and he’d just sort of blow holes in whatever I said and he really challenged me to think, and he really taught me to love learning. And my whole life changed. You know, in that whole, sort of, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen range, my whole life changed, um, because of that desire to learn, that love of learning. And truth is, in some ways that set me up for a spiritual conversion, you know, which also happened in that period.
Because I think in order to grow spiritually we have to be continuous learners. People who are satisfied with what they already know, people who are sort of entrenched in their own opinions, tend not to be continuous learners and also tend not to be growing spiritually. And so I have become sort of obsessed with, uh, how I can teach my kids to love learning, what I can do to help my kids love learning, and what I cannot do to help my kids to love learning. Because I’m sure there’s a lot of things that we need to not do in order to foster many things in our children. Do you love learning? If you don’t love learning, I want you to think about when you stopped loving learning. What happened in your life around that time that caused you to stop loving learning? I want you to go back. I want you to trace it back. I want you to think about that situation. I want you to face that situation, however difficult, however uncomfortable, however painful. I want you to make peace with that situation, and then decide not to let that situation rob you of your future . . . and start to learn again, start to be a lover of learning. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s something that just breeds excellence, helps us become the-best-version-of-ourselves. And when we fall in love with learning, we fall in love with life in a completely new way.
Two of the great lessons of my life have been to get inside of myself and to get outside of myself. When I say get inside of myself, I’ve realized, sort of consistently over my life, that I have a great need for solitude. I do need to step back from things on a regular basis and have some solitude and, and reenergize and get new perspective. And that’s not always easy to do. That creates unique challenges, you know. Deep down I’m an introvert, and most people really struggle to, um, accept that truth. But the people who are closest to me, the people who I live life with personally and professionally, they know I am an introvert, I tend to be awkward around people one on one, especially new people. I’m awkward in a crowd, especially people I don’t know. And, have I learnt to extrovert? Yes. You know, all introverts learn to extrovert in different ways, and all extroverts learn to introvert in different ways. But I think one of the great, uh, differentiations is where do you get your energy from, okay? Extroverts get their energy from extroverting. Introverts get their energy from introverting. And of course, a lot of my life requires a lot of extroverting. But the extroverting tends to drain me, whereas if I was actually an extrovert, that stuff would pump me up and fill me with energy and all that sort of thing. But what, what does pump me up and fill me with energy, and focus me is the introverting. And so, it is really important to me to go away to a quiet place regularly, every day, and to get some time of solitude.
We read over and over in the Gospels, Jesus went away to a lonely place, or Jesus went away to a quiet place, or Jesus left everyone behind and went away to be alone, or to be apart. We need that. You need that. I need that. Whether we’re extrovert or introvert, we all need that. The role of solitude in our lives is very, very powerful. I talk a lot about clarity, and the idea of clarity, and personal clarity, and working out who we are, and what we’re here for, and what matters most, and what matters least. Silence is very important to helping us develop that personal clarity. But solitude is also very, very important to helping us develop that personal clarity.
In the Old Testament, a lot of proverbs, kings, and great leaders were, um, were shepherd boys. And I often think about that because, you know, what made a shepherd boy a perfect candidate to be a great prophet or king or a leader of a great people or a great nation? And, you know, they had the two indispensable qualities of um, personal clarity, and they had lots of it. They had lots of silence out there all day in the middle of nowhere with nothing but their sheep, and they had a lot of solitude. And the thing about solitude is...when we have time in solitude, we learn to hear our own voice very clearly, we learn to hear the voice of conscience very clearly, and we learn to hear the voice of God very clearly. The reality is, for most of us, there are a lot of voices in our lives. You know, when you go to make a decision, whose voice do you hear? Okay, when you go to make a decision, how many different voices do you hear around making that decision? You know, maybe you hear your mom’s voice, your dad’s voice, or your boss’ voice, or your spouse’s voice, or your kid’s voice. Maybe you hear the voice of somebody, maybe a college professor from twenty years ago, or thirty years ago, but you still hear their voice when you’re thinking about making a certain decision. There are a lot of voices in our lives.
You know, my dad has been...dead more than a decade, I think about him every day. I think about him every day, I think about okay what would he think about this? You know, or how would he advise me on that, you know? When I sit down to write, I used to say to people, you know, when I first started writing it was really easy. And the reason it was really easy is because you actually don’t know if anyone’s going to read it. You know, you, I’m not sure you even believe anyone’s going to read it, so you just, you’re just writing, you’re very free, very liberated. I sit down to write now, I’ve got a lot of voices. You know, I sit down to write, I hear a lot of voices and everything I write, I’m judging it as I go through. “Ah, these people will say that, and these people will say that, and I better be really clear about that, because I don’t want these people to think that I’m saying this because I’m really not saying this, so I better add another sentence and explain that.” And I’ve got all these voices in my head, and I’m trying to write and...so we do have a lot of voices, but at the end of the day, our lives should be lived for an audience of one, and God’s that audience.
And so, silence and solitude are essential to getting clear about which voices matter and which voices don’t. Getting clear so that even if all those other voices are still there, and they’re going to still be there, that the voices we hear clearest are our own voice, the voice of conscience, and the voice of God in our lives. And in order to get that kind of clarity, you need solitude. So create some solitude for yourself today, tomorrow, go somewhere quiet. Go for a long walk in a quiet place, or just go somewhere solitary and just sit there for an hour, and see how it affects you. See what it says to you, see how it makes you feel, and beware, resistance doesn’t want you to do this. Resistance will put up a lot of barriers, a lot of obstacles to stop you from spending time in solitude, because solitude increases your ability to live purposefully, and slay resistance.
So I’ve worked out that it’s important for me to get inside myself...the other lesson I’ve learned is that it’s important for me to get outside of myself. And the only way to get outside of myself is to serve other people. And when I’m unhappy in life, mostly it’s because I’m too focused on myself. When I realize I’m unhappy in life, I’ve developed sort of a trigger, I just have to get outside of myself, I have to, I have to do something for somebody else, as quick as possible. Um, because it gets me out of my self focus, it gets me out of my self interest, it gets me focusing on somebody other than myself. And so, from time to time, we do get all caught up in ourselves, and I really believe the fastest way out of that is to serve others, get outside of ourselves, focus on someone else, serve somebody else, in whatever ways available, however simply and quickly you can do that. But also, I think the realization is that we need this on a regular basis, because if we’re not getting outside of ourselves and serving others regularly, we tend to fall into that unhappiness of self focus more and more often, you know.
When I was a kid one of the great, sort of, touchstones of my spiritual journey, one of my great spiritual mentors used to take me to visit old people at nursing homes and, um, wow, as an introvert, that used to kill me, you know, we’d just walk into a stranger’s room and introduce ourselves, sit down and just talk to these old people. And I was just like, never comfortable doing that. We probably did that a hundred times, maybe more. I never got comfortable doing that but wow did I learn a lot of stuff from those people and those nursing homes, you know. My spiritual mentor, he used to ask them, last thing he used to ask them before he left, he used to point at me and he used to say to the old person, “this, this kid’s only fifteen years old. You know, with all your experience of life, you know, what advice would you have for a fifteen year old?” And wow, the things I learned, just in that one question, just in that one experience, and just perspective of life that those old people gave me. It was absolutely, it was phenomenal. So as usual, we realize that when we serve other people there’s always unexpected ways that we benefit. So two lessons. Get inside yourself. Work out who you are by spending some time in solitude. Get clear about the most important voices in your life. And lesson number two. Get outside of yourself. Find ways to serve other people. Few things will bring you more joy in this life than serving other people in powerful ways and in simple ways.
An Unconventional Education
God is constantly winning you, and building you, and sending you. You know, God doesn’t say, “OK, I’m gonna win this person, and then I’m gonna build this person up spiritually, and then I’m gonna send this person out on some great mission.” He’s constantly winning, he’s constantly building, he’s constantly sending. And that’s going on in you right now. God’s trying to win you, and He’s trying to build you, and He’s trying to send you. And, He’s constantly teaching us so many lessons in order to win us, and build us, and send us, but he does want to send us. He wants to send you out today to be his ambassador. He wants to send you out today to do some work. He wants to send you out today to answer some prayers. You see, all around you, wherever you are right now, all around you people are praying to God. They're asking God for this, they’re asking God for that. And many of those prayers, God wants to use you and me to answer those prayers.
You know, I think about all those people in the nursing homes that get no visitors, you know, and they might be just praying, “God send me, send someone to visit me today. You know, send my son to visit me or send my daughter to visit me or send a friend to visit me, or just send someone to visit me.” It’s a, I think one of the great curses of our age is loneliness. An awful lot of loneliness out there in the world, and we have the ability to, to do something about that, you know. We can answer people’s prayers. Not independently, not on our own, not like, oh no, we’re doing it instead of God. God’s doing it through us. But God wants to use you to answer people's prayers. And as we become more spiritually aware, we become mindful of this, and we realize, as we scan our community, or as we scan a situation, we realize, “OK, that’s going on there, God . . .God might be wanting to use me to answer that person’s prayer.”
I have a fabulous friend, and she suffered an awful lot in her life. And we used to go to different places, and I would always notice, like, she would always end up talking to the last person I would expect her to be talking to. This happened a few times. This happened a lot of times. And finally I said something to her. I said, “You always seem to end up spending, even the whole party talking to somebody that I would never sort of put you in the same room with, even.” You know, and she said to me, she said, “You know, I’ve suffered an awful lot in my life, you know that. And one of the gifts that God has given me through that suffering is I have learned to recognize when other people are suffering. People don’t have to tell me they’re suffering. I can see it, I can feel it, I can sense it. And one of the things I like to do is I like to walk into a social situation and scan the environment, and work out who’s suffering the most and just befriend that person for that time.” I thought to myself, “Wow!” That’s an incredible thing." That’s an astounding gift. It’s a beautiful way to approach life. It’s a way to answer people’s prayers. For me, is it different? Her gifts different to my gifts? Yes, absolutely. My gifts different to your gifts? No question. Different. But we all have this ability to collaborate with God, to partner with God, to answer other people’s prayers. And that is, I mean, that’s an astounding thing. That's an incredible thing of beauty. And I think something that is very, very exciting and something that is very humbling, all at the same time. So let’s get out there today and answer some people’s prayers.
Well we’re halfway through Lent. Congratulations for making it halfway! I’m always amazed, you know, in this age of technology we can tell how many people stop . . . when they stop. We can tell if people watched twenty seconds of a video or all of a video. We can tell what percentage of people watch a whole video versus what percentage of people tune out of a video. We can tell how many people last seven days through the program, how many people make it halfway, how many people make it all the way. And resistance will slay a lot of people along the way. But resistance hasn’t slayed you yet, and so I want to congratulate you for making it halfway. We’re praying for you. Make it all the way through Lent on this great, great spiritual journey we’re having together, to create the best Lent ever.
One of the central experiences of our faith is the experience of Mass. You know, and, there seems to be an increasing number of people who say “well, Mass is boring, I don’t get anything out of it.” And certainly, you know, when I was a kid, I used to think the same thing. I was bored in Mass as a kid, you know, lots of times. We have to find a way beyond that, you know? We have to help people find a way beyond that, and please, please, please, please, if you’re in that space, don’t pretend that you’re not in that space. Face the fact that you do feel bored at church, or you do feel bored sometimes at church, and let’s find a way forward for you from that place. I fell in love with the Mass probably when I was about seventeen. It’s obviously a huge journey between being bored at the Mass as a kid and falling in love with the Mass. But...I fell in love with the Mass on Tuesday nights. There was a Mass every Tuesday night in our parish, and, and my spiritual mentor really challenged me to go to Mass one weekday each week. And I am, I'm not a morning person, at all. So in our parish, Mass was at 6:30 in the morning, every morning. And um, I used to have to get up to go for that as an altar boy when I was a little kid. But certainly when I was 17, I wasn’t getting up for the 6:30 Mass. So I used to go Tuesday nights. They used to have Mass at 7:30, and it was probably only, I don’t know, a dozen people. They had it in the big church. It probably held 800 people. And it was a very intimate experience, and in that intimacy I experienced the Mass differently. But I think the big thing is, I started to listen differently. I listened differently to the prayers. I listened differently to the homily, which was always just this one-minute homily. Our priest would give this one-minute homily it was just like, one thing to think about. It was beautiful. It was powerful. And I used to listen differently to the Mass on that Tuesday night. And I don’t know what that was. I don’t know if it was intimacy, I don’t know if it was the absence of all the distractions. I don’t know what it was, but it was different for me, and it really had an enormous impact on me. Every relationship improves when we really start to listen, and that improves our relationship with God.
Every relationship improves when we really start to listen and very often we do not listen well. We, we assume a lot of things about people, especially people who we know, or who have known for a long time. We assume a lot of things about them, and we don’t really listen. And of course you can listen with your ears, but you can also listen with your heart, you can listen with your mind, you can listen with your body. And when we go to Mass, it’s important that we listen with all of our senses and in all of those ways. And I think I learned that on Tuesday nights. I got a challenge I like to give to people. I like to challenge people with this because I think it changes their lives. I think it transforms their faith experience. And I want to present that challenge for you today, and it’s a challenge that is not necessarily for today. If you want to lift it up for today that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t have to be for today.
And the challenge is this: One week in the next year, I challenge you to go to Mass every day for a week. OK? One week, sometime in the next year. It can be any time you want, but the one thing you probably could do today is put it on your schedule. OK? Go to Mass every day for a week, and just reflect on how you are different. Just reflect on how that affects you. Just reflect on how you see the Mass differently, experience God differently through the Mass during that week, because there will be differences. And you will find that the Mass nurtures you in new and different ways. It’s a great challenge. Will it be easy? No, absolutely won't be. Convenient? Absolutely not! If you want convenience you should stop trying to be a Christian right now. Absolutely nothing convenient about Christianity. Christianity is inconvenient because Christianity is love. And love is not about self, it's not about us, it’s not about what we want, it’s not about those things. Love . . . getting outside of ourselves, laying down our lives for other people . . . and that is difficult and inconvenient. And that’s love, and that’s Christianity. But I promise you, if you make the effort, go to Mass every day for a week, your life will be different in wonderful ways.
If you wanna insult God, tell him you’re bored. It’s one of the greatest insults we can give to God, you know. And we hear people say it all the time, right? “I’m bored." Maybe it’s a kid, or maybe it’s a teenager. But in our hyper-stimulated, hyper-entertained culture, it seems to be that even adults are bored more and more. When you think about the idea that God has given you life, and this incredible planet, and everything and everyone, and every possibility and every opportunity that exists at every single moment of every single day, the idea that someone could be bored is a, an insult of staggering proportions. To God, and obviously with most of these things, it says more about the person than it does about any other reality on the planet. And so I think that any time that we feel bored, it really is something that should arrest us. It is something that should cause us to, to pause all of things, and all of life, and examine ourselves and say how is it even possible, what confluence of events could have led to the idea that I am now bored. And, and I think to be bored, if nothing else, points to an incredible poverty of mind, poverty of thought, which we always have.
In any situation, in any scenario, wherever we are at whatever time, if nothing else we have our mind, we have our thoughts, and you can think about whatever it is that is necessary to inspire you, engage you, elevate you, feed you, nurture you, stimulate you, at any point in time. So I feel strongly about boredom. You probably gathered that. And yet, I think it’s an increasing theme in our church, and it’s an increasing theme in our culture. And I think it’s a theme that we should be particularly mindful of and aware of in our own life so that if it even begins to rear its ugly head, we have ways of responding to boredom in our lives.
For more than fifty years now we’ve been struggling with the idea in our church, particularly from young people, that Mass is boring. I think increasingly that message has evolved for adults, being so much more sophisticated than children, who will now say, “Well there's nothing relevant in the Mass,” or “I don’t find the Mass relevant.” Has the Mass become irrelevant to modern people’s lives? I don’t think that’s the problem. I think a lot of modern lives have become irrelevant to the Mass. I think that they are two worlds sometimes, colliding. You have the world of the Mass which is the world of God, which is stimulated and perpetuated by God’s worldview. And then you have the life of modern man, which is obviously clashing with that in some way for people to think it’s irrelevant. The problem is not that the Mass has become irrelevant. The problem is not that the Mass has all of a sudden become boring to more and more people. I think the problem is that our lives have become irrelevant. Our lives have become irrelevant to God’s worldview. Our lives have become boring in the modern context, because we’ve lost whatever it is that makes them unique. We’ve lost whatever it is that makes them handmade. We’ve lost this great yearning, this great chasing for the-best-versions-of-ourselves. And I think a lot of our lives can fall into the trap of being generic, being mass-manufactured.
And so, the Mass remains this great call to sabbath, this great call to step back, this great call to reflect, this great call to think more deeply about our lives than our culture will naturally challenge us to think. And I think that if we find the Mass boring, if we find the Mass irrelevant, that should be a sign of, of alarm bells. Not in relation to our spirituality, but in relation to our life, and in relation to our culture. Will my kids be bored at Mass? Yeah, they probably will be. Some days I go to Mass with Harry, he’s two, he just sits there, the whole time, doesn’t say a word, fixated, the only thing he says is “Amen,” usually about ten seconds behind the congregation. I take other children of mine, who will remain unnamed, and that is definitely not the experience. They’re a lot more restless, they’re a lot more distracted, they’re a lot more bored. As they grow older, I will face, you know, one of the ultimate challenges of my life, right? Because all of this stuff’s very easy to talk about, but when you actually got to live it out in my own life, when I live it out in my children’s life, there comes a very, very different proposition. I know this for sure. Everybody is responsible for their own boredom. If you’re bored, that’s your problem. On a very, very, very deep level, that’s not a shallow, superficial problem, that’s a real problem. And everybody is ultimately responsible for their boredom.
We go to church on Sunday, it is impossible to be bored, impossible to be bored, if we go to church to listen to the voice of God in our lives. I think very often we go to church and that’s not our goal. Very often we go to church, we don’t want God’s input into our life. And I can imagine that if you’re going to church on Sunday and you’re not interested in doing the will of God, and you’re not interested in listening to God, and you’re not interested in changing your life how God would like and invites you to change your life, I can image that would become boring. Maybe even worse than boring, maybe even annoying.
And so, I think it’s a good measurement for us, I think it’s a good barometer for us. We tend to be more engaged at Mass, the more interested we are in doing what God wants us to do in our lives and with our lives. When I disengage, when I’m a little more disengaged at Mass, I’m probably resisting God in something. In something, in some way, somehow in my life, I’m probably resisting God. And when I, when I’m resisting God on something, guess what? Yes, I disengage a little bit at Mass. Yes, I get lazy in my prayer. Yes, I get lazy in my spiritual reading. Yes, I tend to focus on myself more and become more self-interested and more selfish. And I become unhappier. Because when we resist God, we resist happiness.
Learning to Listen
When you look at the different relationships in your life, you probably realize that some are going better than others. You might realize that some have become a little dysfunctional. You might realize that some are in a bad spot or in a bad patch. And there’s probably one or two of those relationships that you’d really like to see blossom in a new way, you’d really like to see them thrive at a new level. And sometimes it’s your best relationships that you want to see go to even another level. If you wanna improve a relationship, one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve a relationship is to become a better listener. Every relationship improves when we really learn to listen in a deeper way, in a new way, in a fresh way. And that, of course, includes our relationship with God. But if you really, if there's a really, a particular relationship in your life that you would like to see thrive and blossom in a new way, really focus on how you’re listening to that person. OK? Are you giving that person your full attention? You know, when you’re with that person, are you open to distractions and disruptions, or do you put your phone away and block off distractions and disruptions so you can give that person your full attention? Do you find yourself interrupting that person? Do you feel like you understand what that person is telling you? And if you’ve known that person for a long time, you may have a lot of assumptions that need to be challenged, because people change the way they think about things. People’s opinions change. The way people feel about different things or situations changes over time. And so, you could be married to a person for twenty years, and you could be assuming that something he or she said twenty years ago is still real and relevant and applies. They might have changed their mind. And so you have to be very careful about the assumptions that you lay over every conversation with the people you know and love. And you have to revisit those assumptions from time to time. You have to ask questions.
I think listening is not a passive thing. Listening is an active thing. The very best listeners are, they’re proactive listeners, and they listen with their body, they listen with their ears, they listen with their heart, they listen with their mind, and so they have many perspectives on anything that is being said. Of course, God wants you to become that kind of listener. He wants you to learn to listen to yourself in that way, He wants you to realize “okay, I’m hungry.” That’s one way of listening to yourself. Or, might be eating a great meal and you realize, “hey, I’m not hungry anymore, why am I still eating?” Another way to listen to yourself. Or “I’m tired” or “I’m cranky” you know, and what is, what is our body saying to us when we experience all of those things? To learn to listen to ourselves, to learn to listen to others, and to learn to listen to God, is one of the great life skills, and one of the great spiritual skills that God wants us to develop. If we really do think about our listening, if we really do focus on our listening in a new way, I think that changes the way we experience Mass, when we go to church on Sunday. We go to church on Sunday, I think very often it's easy to fall into a passive state, and in a culture obsessed with entertainment, it’s easy to fall into a passive state that is completely disappointed on an entertainment perspective. That’s good, because we don’t go to church on Sunday to be entertained. We do go to church on Sunday to listen to the voice of God in our lives. We do go to church on Sunday to receive Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist.
And so our involvement at Mass should be much more active, especially when it comes to listening. You know, yes, the opening song is a song, and yes the opening song has words, and yes, we may sing it or not sing it, but what are those words saying to us? Or what is the type of music saying to us? Because very often, you know, when the music is done in a really good way, you’re able to tell what season of the year we’re in, just by the tone of the music, before you even hear the words of the music. Are we listening in that way? We’re still only in the opening hymn. Then of course we have the prayers of the Mass. The prayers of the Mass are phenomenal, you know? And when you think about, okay God has this dream, He wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself, if you read the prayers of the Mass with that in mind, you keep in mind, okay, God wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself, and He wants you to dedicate your life to helping other people become the-best-versions-of-themselves, you put that in your mind, you read the prayers of the Mass with that in mind, you really, you discover once again that there really is genius in Catholicism.
There’s something just astounding about our faith. Very often we haven’t even scratched the surface of it. We obviously then enter into the Scriptures, you know. God speaking to us in the Scriptures, how are we listening to the Scriptures? How can you become a better listener of the Scriptures? You know, a lot of parishes have the readings in some sort of booklet. Does that help you listen if you’re reading along? Do you listen differently? I know, uh, Father Bob here at Dynamic Catholic, his whole parish had Bibles, they used to bring their Bible to Mass and open up to where it was in the Bible so they could see where it was in the context, and it really changes the way you listen to the Scriptures on Sunday. Then of course we have the, uh, the prayers of the faithful. How deeply do we listen to other people’s needs? How deeply do we listen to other people’s prayers? And when someone says to you, “pray for me,” do we really pray for them? Do we take that request, that invitation seriously? Then we have the offering, offer ourselves, our lives, everything we have, everything we are to God, in the offering. Then we enter into the Eucharistic part of the--it’s a phenomenal opportunity to listen. Every part of the Mass, God is saying something to us, are we listening? Next Sunday when we go to church, go to church as a proactive listener. I think you’ll be astounded at the messages God is delivering to us every single Sunday of our lives.
One of the things that has helped me become a great listener at Mass is the Mass Journal. I’ve been keeping a Mass Journal every Sunday for 17 years now. I’ve got a whole shelf of Mass Journals in my study at home where I write, and it’s an amazing source of inspiration. It’s amazing to go back and take off the shelf 2001 and look at the things that God was saying to me in 2001. It’s astounding to see how, you know, in 2001, I was making a huge deal out of something, and it's not a big deal. In fact it was never a big deal. I was making a big deal out of nothing. It’s interesting to go back and see, that you know, the things I was really struggling with in 2001, and I’m not struggling with that thing anymore. You know, God's grace has come into that part of my life and liberated me. But it’s also interesting to see, hey, there were other things I was struggling with in 2001, and I’m still struggling with them today. And it shows that God’s voice in our lives is present, it is active, it is personal. God is deeply interested in personally communicating with us in a very powerful way. The question is, are we listening?
The Power of Habits
When you look at people who are successful at anything, they have great habits. You know, you often hear people say, “Well the secret to my success was this,” or, “The secret to my success was that.” But the reality is when you dive in, when you really get deep into the daily lives of people who are phenomenally successful, what you discover is they have these habits that are just rocks in their lives, that keep them grounded, that keep them anchored. When things get tough, when things get great, these things keep them grounded. If you look at the lives of the saints, you find exactly the same thing. The saints, they had these habits that were just sort of boulders in their day, boulders in their lives, that kept them grounded, that kept them anchored. And they were not extraordinary habits. They were very, very, very ordinary habits.
You think about the habit of daily prayer, it’s an ordinary habit for a saint. There's not a saint in the history of the world that didn’t have a habit of daily prayer. It’s, it's a really ordinary habit, but when it’s placed in our lives as, as an anchor, when it’s placed in our lives as sort of an immovable object in every day, it becomes phenomenally powerful.
You’ve got good habits, you’ve got bad habits. Our habits, in lots of ways, determine our destiny. You know, tell me what new habit you’re working on this year, and I’ll tell you how your life will be different this year than it was last year. Sometimes we get obsessed with a bad habit. Umm, I think particularly when we start trying to grow spiritually, when we start assessing our lives and our character, spiritually, we often, most of us, come to some bad habits that we realize, “Wow, these habits have gotta go. They’ve gotta get kicked out of my life.” And I think the amateur mistake is to focus on that bad habit. And in many real ways, whatever we focus on tends to grow in our lives, so the more we focus on it, the more we obsess about it, you know, the harder and harder it is to get rid of that bad habit. You know, I think people have had a lot of experience with these things, a lot of experience with the spiritual life, a lot of experience with helping people change their lives, would say okay, yes that’s a bad habit, but let’s crowd it out of your life. Let’s, let's place new, good habits in your life and crowd that, that bad habit out of your life so it has no space in your life to live. And, and I think there’s real wisdom in that. So, whether you feel like you need to grow a great habit or whether you feel like you need to get rid of a bad habit, I think you have to say, “OK, what habits do I have to create to crowd that bad habit out of my life?” And maybe the good habit is the one, but chances are there's a lot of little good habits needed to crowd a big, bad habit out of your life. And we all have them, you know? You’ve got your thing, I’ve got my thing, the things we struggle with. And sometimes we can be on a great path, sometimes we can be in a fabulous season in our lives, and in that season, you know, we tend to be able to overcome, you know, that bad habit, that central bad habit of our lives. But then seasons change, and, you know, we do experience a storm in our life, or we do experience uncertainty in our life. And it’s very easy in those times for those bad habits to, to rear their ugly head and to have a place again in our lives.
But make no mistake: Our lives do change when our habits change. If you have not been in the habit of praying daily and you take 10 minutes a day, every day, for the next 60 days, 100 days, it’s going to change your life! You know, it’s, it’s, not so much about the habit, I mean, in that particular case, it’s an extraordinary habit, a very, very strong, powerful habit. But our lives do change when our habits change. So how is it that you want your life to be different this year? How is it that you feel God is calling you to be different as a person of character and virtue? And then reverse engineer it, you know? Ask yourself, “OK, what sort of great habits would that person have? If I was that-very-best-version-of-myself, what would be my daily habits? My weekly habits? My monthly habits? My annual habits?” You know? A lot of great spiritual heroes had an annual habit of going away on retreat or going away on pilgrimage. So it’s not just the things we do daily. But to create this ritual, this rhythm, these very powerful, powerful, powerful routines of habit in our lives, over time becomes incredibly powerful. It’s like the ocean, you know? You see a huge rock face at the ocean, and you ask the question, "Over time, who’s gonna win?” The rock face, it looks strong, right? It looks powerful, it looks immovable. But over time the ocean’s gonna win. In fact, the ocean is winning. If you go back and you look at where that rock face was even ten years ago, you realize, “Wow! The ocean's winning.” It might take a long time, but the ocean's gonna win. And habits, it’s like that. It’s just like the steady, in and out of the ocean, just breaking down whatever the rocks and barriers and obstacles are in our lives.
How Many Sundays Left?
It’s so easy to waste life, you know? And, we don’t waste life a decade at a time. We don’t waste life a week at a time, a month at a time. We tend to waste life in, in moments. It’s, it’s in those moments where, you know, two roads do diverge in the wood, and you’ve got to make a decision, okay am I going to push myself, and do this now, this thing that I know is important, this thing that I know matters, this thing that I know is the thing I should be doing right now, or am I going to slack off? Am I going to procrastinate, am I going to put it off, am I going to waste life? That’s how it happens. And it’s amazing how much life we waste. It’s amazing how much life we waste each day. If I said to you, “you’re going to die in a month,” you know, how different would your next month be? How differently would you live your next month than how you lived your last month? And the truth is, it would be, it would probably be radically different. And I think it is good for us to think about that sometimes, because we do get in a rut. Life does carry us along. Life does develop a, a momentum of its own. But sometimes, it’s just good and healthy for us to stop and reflect and think about our life. I mean, is this really the life you want to be living? Is this really the life you feel God is calling you to live?
And, you know, when you think about the genius of Catholicism, I mean, the concept of Lent is absolute genius. The idea that our lives do change when our habits change, and most people don’t wake up one morning and say, “okay, on the next forty days I’m going to work on a new habit.” But the church, in her infinite wisdom, realizes “wow, our lives do change when our habits change, and we should give people an annual opportunity to work on that. Give them forty days to really focus in on that.” And it’s, it’s pure genius. The genius of Catholicism exists at a level that most people just don’t even understand because it’s so ingrained into the practice of our faith. And so we have this period of Lent to think about our lives, to think about our habits, to think about who we are, to think about our character, to think about...how’s it going? We talk a lot about people’s lives changing. Or people will say to me, “wow that book really changed my life” or “the work you guys are doing at Dynamic Catholic is really life changing.” But when you think about it, people don’t change that much. Do you know anyone in your life who has really changed their life? Who has really said “no, I’m fed up, I’m dissatisfied,” and going on a radically different path? It doesn’t happen that often. You know? And I think that it should happen more often than it does. And the reason it doesn’t happen is because we, we’re incredibly comfortable wasting life. We’re incredibly comfortable wasting an hour here, wasting a day there, wasting a week. And, to get out of that thinking is very, very important. And it, it’s the thinking of the champions. It’s the thinking of the saints. You know? You think about, well, the Olympics. The difference between a gold medal and a silver medal can be a tenth of a second. And they use that to motivate themselves. They use that to motivate themselves, when they’re thinking, “Ugh, I don’t want to go to training today,” or “I don’t want to go to my third training for the day today. I feel like blowing it off. I feel like procrastinating.” You think about how short life is, and think about how long eternity is . . . You know, do we think about heaven? Do we think about eternity? Do we think about, you know, what moments in our lives make the difference between what matters most and what matters least? And how will we see life differently when we’re on the other side? And how will we regret the moments we wasted? Because we do waste life, and man, that is a tragedy. That is a tragedy. You talk to someone who’s dying and you ask them, you know, “What would you give for another day? You know, another healthy day to do whatever you felt you wanted to do or needed to do, what would you give for that?” You ask that person, they know how important a life is. They know how important a day is. That’s your day today. Go out and get it! Go out and get it. Do not waste a single moment today. Just today. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or the next day, the next week, the next . . . just today. Get out there, get a hold of life. Do not waste a single moment today.
Truth is one of the things that is foundational to life, because truth is foundational to relationships, and relationships play such a critical place in our lives. You probably don't like being lied to. You know? Most people are not that comfortable being lied to. Most people wouldn't say, "Oh yeah, I don't mind if my friends lie to me. I don't mind if my spouse lies to me." You know? But it's, it's interesting I think, to see how casual our relationship is with the truth sometimes. And of course like anything, it starts in small ways. It starts in small ways, we think, "Oh, just a little lie here, or a little lie there." And little by little it begins to, to unravel, and we end up with a really casual relationship with the truth. Of course that's where our society is right now. And, and worse than having a casual relationship with the truth, we actually live in a culture that's trying to murder truth. You see, the culture, um, the culture hates truth. Culture, the current culture doesn't believe in objective truth. What does that mean? It means the current culture doesn't believe that anything is true for everybody. Current culture is preaching the idea of, "Oh, well you've got your truth and I've got my truth. And what's true for you is true for you, and what's true for me is true for me. And you live your truth, and I'll live my truth. And you do whatever you wanna do, and I'll do whatever I wanna do. And you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. And we'll all live happily ever after, in our own individual truth." And that's nonsense. You know, it's absolute nonsense. Some things are true for everybody. But in a culture that’s trying to murder truth, one of the casualties is wisdom, you know? Because truth and wisdom are intimately connected. Wisdom is not the amassing of knowledge, wisdom is not, um . . . even just an elevated form of knowledge. Uh, Google doesn't have any wisdom. You know? It's got all the knowledge in the world, right? It's got all the information in the world, but, but it doesn't have wisdom. And the reason is because wisdom is truth lived. Wisdom is actually, not knowing the truth, wisdom is living the truth. Sometimes, when we encounter someone who really is very wise, we realize … wow, yes, the person has knowledge, yes, the person has experience, but more than that, we realize this person has really, in all of his or her brokenness, faults, failings, flaws, defects, all of that, this person is really trying to live this truth in his or her life. And that’s a tremendously powerful thing. So as our culture tries to murder truth, guess what? You see a lot less wisdom in our culture. It’s not very often you see someone on the TV and think wow, she is a really wise person, or wow, he is such a wise person. Because in a culture that tries to murder truth, wisdom’s a casualty.
And so, as you look around, you see a lot less wisdom in our culture. And if there's no such thing as truth, as our culture would like you to believe, well then there is actually no such thing as wisdom. Because you've got your own truth, and your own truth equates to your own wisdom. And I've got my own truth, and my own truth equates to my own wisdom. So really, if everything's wisdom, then there's no such thing as wisdom. And of course, the biggest practical casualty in this, this war against truth is the good decision. You see, in a culture that’s trying to murder truth, yes, you see a lot less wisdom but what else? You see a lot less really good decisions being made. How often do you look at someone who just made a big decision in their lives, and you think “wow, man, there was wisdom in that, that wouldn’t have been an easy decision to make. That was a really good decision.” We don't see that many good decisions being . . .look around daily life, you don't, you don't see that many good decisions being made because as our culture tries to murder truth, wisdom becomes a casualty. And as wisdom becomes a casualty, really good decisions become a casualty, because our culture doesn't believe that there's any such thing as a great decision.
Our culture believes there's no such thing as objective truth, and if there's no such thing as objective truth, every decision becomes equal. And even the village idiot comes to the conclusion that Mother Teresa made better decisions than Adolf Hitler. Some decisions are better than other decisions. Some choices are better than other choices. What makes them better? How closely they align with truth. How closely they align with truth. And decisions that align with truth, well that's wisdom. And so the great challenge for you and me on a daily basis is to align our lives with truth, is to reject the causal relationship with truth, and say, "You know what, I'm gonna take truth seriously. I'm gonna start to speak the truth, in all situations. I'm gonna start to live the truth, in all situations." Even the little things that seem insignificant, because they erode your relationship with truth. And as Christians, as Christians we're called to have a serious relationship with truth. We're called to take truth seriously, not just to have a casual relationship of convenience, with truth.
You know in our, our modern world of comfort and convenience, we don't experience necessarily physical hunger that often. We can deal with our physical hunger fairly quickly in most situations in our modern experience. But we have a lot of different hungers. You know? We have obviously spiritual hungers, and emotional hungers, and intellectual hungers, and, and so there's hunger around every aspect of the human person. And getting in touch with our hunger is one of, one of the great spiritual gifts, and it's it's actually a derivative gift from the gift of awareness, that we spoke about earlier. You know, how aware are we of what's going on around us? How aware are we of what's going on within us? And, do we know what we're hungry for? Do you, do you know what you're hungry for at this time in your life?
You know, we read about the Scriptures, or read in the Scriptures, Jesus came to, to feed the hungry and to heal the sick. And obviously a very literal reading of the Scripture could say, "Well, I’m not hungry, and I’m not sick." But we are. We are hungry. We are sick. Do we know our hunger? Do we know our sickness? I was talking to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago, and he was reading “Resisting Happiness,” and he had just got done with the chapter on hunger. And he said to me, “you know, I really thought about this. I sat in my armchair on Sunday afternoon and I thought about this for like three hours. What am I hungry for?” And my friend is a professional athlete, a very, very successful professional athlete. And I said to him, "So, what, what did you work out?" He said, "You know to be honest I’m, I’m hungry for community." I said “well, what do you mean?” He says, “well, if you look at, sort of, the history of Christianity, community played a huge role, and it seems that the first Christians had this phenomenal community. And they grew as communities, they had these phenomenal Christian communities. But the modern Christian can come to church on Sunday, and leave church on Sunday, and not even talk to anybody. That’s not community.” He went on, he said, um, “you know, add to that the fact that I’m famous, I’m wealthy, and probably there’s less than five people in my life since I was sixteen years old that didn’t want something from me, you know? That wasn’t looking at their relationship with me, at least at some level, as transactional.” And so, he went on basically to say that being famous as a sporting figure and being wealthy as a sporting figure, are both impediments to, to authentic community. And I think we all yearn for that. We might not have those impediments, but I think we all yearn for that community. We all yearn to belong. You know, why do kids go often join gangs? Why do people go off and join cults? Why do, why do people get themselves into these situations? Because we have this yearning for community.
We have this hunger to belong. We are hungry for community, and I think that it’s good for us all to get in touch with that, that hunger we have for community, because I don’t think the modern culture is very good at creating communities. And so, if we want to walk together as Christians, if we want to create really dynamic church communities, then we’ve got to reconnect with our own hunger for community, help people recognize and connect with their hunger for community, and change the way we approach it. What are you hungry for? Maybe you’re hungry for community, maybe you're hungry for something else, but we are all hungry for something. And Jesus, he came to feed the hungry.
Breaking the Cycle
You know, every year when we promote the Best Lent Ever program experience, we talk about, you know, "don't give up chocolate for Lent this year." And it's not that we shouldn’t give up chocolate, but it's, it's the idea that, that is the focus of Lent for, for so many people. And while it is good for us to give something up, it's also good for us to do something very positive, it’s to take on a new habit. You know? It's amazing how just watching these videos, just two or three minutes a day, can set the tone for your day, or set the theme for your day, or impact you over the course of Lent. But, I think it is important that we not lose sight of fasting as one of the central concepts of Lent. And why do we fast? It has been part of the Christian tradition for … since the beginning. It is something that has been rejected in large parts by modern Christians, I think largely because we love comfort. We love convenience, we love comfort. And in a lot of ways, we do create a gospel of convenience, and fasting doesn't fit into the concept for convenience. It doesn’t, fasting doesn’t fit into our gospel of convenience. So we have thrown off fasting as a regular spiritual habit in the modern culture. And of course, the church wants to remind us during Lent that fasting is an essential component of the spiritual life. Why? Fasting...God uses fasting to liberate us.
You know, it’s a fabulous story in the Scriptures, you know, Jesus, Jesus sends out the disciples in twos and gives them power to, you know, do all sorts of things. And then when they’re coming back they encounter, a couple of the disciples, they encounter this child, and, and they try to heal the child, but they can’t. And then Jesus comes along and bam. He takes care of it. He gets it done. And, and the disciples are like, "Well hold on Jesus. You sent us out, you told us we were gonna be able to do the things you do. What happened here? Why couldn't we, why couldn’t we get this done?" And Jesus says, "Some demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.” There are times in your life you think about what overwhelms you, you think about what enslaves you, you think about what gets you down or what keeps you down, you think about . . . what is the one thing that you're struggling with, or what’s the one thing you been struggling with for a decade or for two decades? And this is the message that Jesus has for us in those situations, because we’re all struggling with something. You’ve got your thing, I got my thing. And it might change at different times in our lives, but we are all struggling with something. And, and Jesus’ message to us in that is, "Guess what? Doesn't matter how strong your will is. You might have the strongest willpower of any person in your circle of influence. Willpower isn’t gonna get this done.” Because you've tried, haven’t you? You’ve tried to overcome that thing you're struggling with. You put all your, your mind strength into it, but it’s still there, it still kicks your butt. And what Jesus is saying to us is, "You can't do this. First thing you have to realize is, you can't overcome this, it’s bigger than you. You need me to help you overcome this." Some demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. What is it in your life that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting? And are you, are you praying about it? Are you, are you coming before God and saying, "Hey God, I don’t have this. I can’t get this done. I’ve tried a hundred times. Throw yourself on your mercy, I’m begging you to help me with this." When’s the last time you begged God? For anything? Maybe today’s a good day. Because we are all struggling with something and some of those things can only be overcome by prayer and fasting.
So the first piece is prayer, it’s to throw ourselves on God’s mercies, it’s to beg God to help us. But the second thing is the fasting. And that doesn’t mean that you go out into the desert and fast for forty days on bread and water. But the little things each day, you know? You want to have a Coke, you have a glass of water. What it is, fasting is that self-denial. It’s saying, "I will give something up, I will deny myself, my pleasure, my cravings, my self-interest. I will deny myself. I will fast.” And maybe it is you go a whole day of just bread and water. And when we do that, we realize wow, how truly weak we are, how truly dependent on God and on food that we truly are. But fasting is central to the Christian experience, it’s central to Christian spirituality. I can’t tell you how you should fast. I think there’s suggestions can be made. I think that we can look at other people and what’s been successful for them, but ultimately only you can decide, because God wants you to fast joyfully, and if I say you must do this, the chances of you doing it joyfully are limited straight away. God wants you to deny yourself joyfully, and to deny yourself for a purpose, on purpose, with purpose, for purpose.
So what’s the purpose? Maybe you’re going to fast for some friend of yours who’s sick, maybe you’re going to fast and offer up that suffering, however small, to God to say, “hey God, I’m struggling with this, I can’t deal with it on my own, I really need you to help me overcome this challenge in my life.” Because once you, once you experience the power of fasting in your life, you'll be absolutely converted to its, to its power. You'll give a place to it in your life, forever. It’s like so many things when it comes to God and church and religion. We talk about it, yeah it's interesting, but once we experience it, that's when it changes us. That's when it makes us that new creation that Jesus talked about so often when he walked the earth. So fasting. Rediscover fasting. Get out, think about, What is it? How can you employ it in your life? How is God inviting you to make it a part of your spirituality?
You Cannot Succeed at Anything Without...
You know, I've, I've always been fascinated with people who are excellent at something. At people who are world-class at something, or phenomenally successful at something. And it's, it’s fascinating to me to see the similarities between people who are phenomenally successful in business and people who are phenomenally successful in sport and people who become saints. There tends to be these themes, there tends to be these, these connections between all of these things. And one of those themes that has just continued to strike me throughout my life, exploring the lives of, you know, successful people, is the theme of delayed gratification. It would seem to me that you cannot be successful at anything without delaying gratification. Success doesn't just show up and, you know, make itself yours. You actually, there's a process you go through to be excellent at something. And that process always requires delayed gratification. And that doesn't matter, you know . . .if someone sets out to become a saint, guess what? There's a lot of delayed gratification there. And if someone sets out to be successful in business or successful in sport, guess what? There's a lot of delayed gratification there. You can't be successful in marriage unless you're willing to delay gratification. It's not possible. You can't be a great parent unless you're willing to delay gratification, because the sense is just to, to embrace, you know, whatever feels good, whatever seems good, whatever . . . But sometimes you realize, "Whoa, I've gotta hold back a little bit here." Sometimes you realize, "You know what, loving my child is not giving my child this thing, loving my child is not giving my child this thing." And that’s difficult, and that’s when it becomes...okay whose need is being served? Am I giving my child this thing because my child needs this thing, or because it’s a fun thing for my child? Or am I giving my child this thing to fill some need in me? Whose need is being served? So I think it’s always a fascinating question to ask ourselves in situations: whose need is being served? But in all relationships, you have to delay gratification in order to have a phenomenal relationship. You can’t be physically healthy unless you’re willing to delay gratification. You can’t be financially healthy unless you’re willing to delay gratification. Being financially healthy requires delayed gratification. And not just once or twice, but constant, like a constant vigilance of delayed gratification to get financially healthy and stay financially healthy, and be financially healthy. And so this concept of delayed gratification is astoundingly powerful, and yet we live in a culture, of course, that is phenomenally allergic to the idea of delayed gratification. We live in a culture now where instant gratification isn’t actually fast enough, because it’s like, a culture of gratification. And yet, we can’t be successful at anything unless you’re willing to delay gratification. And in fact, the more you develop your ability to delay gratification, the more successful you’ll be at everything. Everything. It’s one of those life skills that nobody ever talks to us about in school, right?
Nobody ever says in school “oh if you want to have a great career and be really successful, you’ve got to learn how to delay gratification.” And once again, what do we find? We find that the genius of Catholicism is phenomenally practical. It’s not just some off in the clouds theology. It’s here, right in the midst of everything we do. And the church, for 2000 years, very unpopularly, has been saying “hey, delay gratification.” Why? Because the church wants you to suffer? No. Because the church wants you to be unhappy? No. Because the Church wants you to experience excellence in everything you do. The Church wants you to become the-best-version-of-yourself. There's genius in Catholicism, and it is, It is phenomenally practical. And who else for two thousand years has been saying, "Delayed gratification is one of the keys to living a happy, fulfilling life"? Nobody. It's unpopular sometimes to announce the truth. And it's certainly unpopular at this time in history to announce, "Hey, delayed gratification is a path to happiness, is a path to excellence." But the Church is always there. And so as we make this journey together, I think it is important for us to ask ourselves, "OK, how do we delay gratification? How do we delay our gratification? And why does it matter? And how is not delaying our gratification hurting us? Or how has not delaying our gratification in the past hurt us?" Because I think the first thing is, you've got to be really convinced that this concept is real. That there's truth in it, that there's wisdom in it, because you're not going to apply the concept powerfully into your life unless, unless you have that belief.
The Secret to Excellence
Probably at least once a week somebody asks me, "You know, how can I write a great book?" or "I’ve always wanted to write a book, and how can I write a great book about this subject?" or "You know, I’ve been working on a book, how can I get it published, and how can I be successful publishing a book?" And a lot of questions around this, sort of in my life. It’s natural for us to seek out people who have been successful at something and to ask them questions. And what are we doing? We're looking for coaching. You see, nobody achieves excellence at anything without coaching. I say it again: nobody achieves excellence at anything without coaching.
If I look at my own life and I think about all the people who have helped me in any aspect of my life, it was, very rarely was it a formal coaching relationship. It was a conversation, or a series of conversations. We're talking about things: "I’m working on this,” or “I’m struggling with this," or "How did you that?” or “How did you make that happen?" And coaching plays a critical, I mean, an absolute essential part, in our lives. You think about when a woman has a baby for the first time. You know? What does she do? She asks other moms, "What did you do about this?" or "What did you do about that?" Or maybe she asks her own mom or her own grandma, "What’s going on here?” or “How do I . . .?" You know, it’s just part of the generational experience of humanity that we pass knowledge along, that we pass wisdom along, that we pass know-how along to other people. And it’s essential for excellence. You know? You see people who say, "I’m gonna do it all on my own. I’m not gonna have any teammates," or "I’m not gonna have any coaches," or whatever. And what happens? Mediocrity. That make silly mistakes. They make amateur mistakes that never would’ve been made if, if there was any coach around or any experience around.
You know, when I had kidney cancer, and uh, I went to see the surgeon, the first question I asked the surgeon is, because they wanted to do this new robotic form of surgery, the first thing I asked the surgeon was “how many times have you done this?” Cause guess what? I don’t want to be the guy who you’re doing it on the first time. I don’t want to be that guy, you know? And turns out he’d done it six or seven hundred times. Great, there’s something about experience, there’s something about experience that is very, very valuable, and it can help us avoid a lot of suffering in our lives, a lot of pain in our lives, a lot of silly mistakes in our lives.
One of the things about the Church is, the Church is basically saying sometimes, "Don’t do these things, because I want to save you from incredible suffering." You know? "Don’t do these things, because I want you to avoid these horrible situations that will be painful to you." We of course don’t see it that way. Coaching is essential to excellence. Whatever you want to be excellent in your life, you need coaching. You need coaches. And of course the spiritual life is the same. Who, who is coaching you spiritually? OK? And it doesn’t mean, "Oh, I've got to have a spiritual coach." Maybe, if you do or if you can, that’s a great thing, but it’s hard to find. And it may be that your spiritual coaches do become the saints. It may be that your spiritual coaches do become books. We have to be constantly looking for spiritual coaches because we need them to achieve excellence in the spiritual life. And maybe the first question is, is um, "Are we striving for excellence in the spiritual life, or are we satisfied with mediocrity?" Because as soon as we start striving for excellence, we start looking for spiritual coaches.
The Light Is On
When you think about Jesus do you think about someone far off, someone historic, someone far away? Or do you have an experience of Jesus being close to you, and close to your life? Because I think that’s the great leap for us, you know, I think to know about Jesus is one thing. I think to know Jesus is something completely different, and I think there is a phenomenal temptation for all of us to set Him off as a historic figure, to set Him off as far away. And, and there’s a lot of reasons we do that, and one of the reasons we do that is because we want to distance ourselves, not only from the person of Jesus, but also from the message of Jesus, you know? He said he came to heal the sick, to forgive sinners, and I don’t think we like thinking of ourselves as sick. I don’t think we like thinking of ourselves as in need of healing. I don’t think we like thinking of ourselves as sinners, and I know we don’t like thinking of ourselves as in need of a savior. And yet, we are. We are sick, we need healing, we are sinners, we need forgiveness. Although interestingly, most people who are sick go to the doctor. Not all of them, right? Fascinating, isn’t it? Some people can be really, really sick, but they won't go to the doctor. You know? And I don't mean sick with a cold, "Hey, it’ll pass." You know? And, and some people will be really, really sick, and they know they're really sick, and they know it's getting worse, but for whatever reason they won't go to the doctor.
And I think spiritually, we often fall into that category. It’s like we know we're sick, we know we need healing, we know we're sinners, we know we need forgiveness, but we won't go to confession. Why? It’s staggering, it's fascinating to me. I love confession. I, I think that it's, again, I think it's genius. You know? Not only spiritually, but also psychologically, because sin is, is sort of a sad thing. It just makes us sad. Sin is, it’s a heavy thing. And we do, we do carry it around with us. And . . . I love being able to go to confession and just drop all that stuff off . . . feel light . . . feel free, feel . . .like you have a fresh start. I love fresh starts. I love a new year. I love a new month. I love fresh starts cuz you know what I realize? Man I need a fresh start a lot. I need a clean slate. I need a fresh start. I get myself into all sorts of trouble . . .just need a new start, need a fresh start. And there's something really powerful, there's something really practical, something really beautiful about just coming to confession and saying, "Hey God, this is who I am, this is what I did, this is what I thought, this is what I didn't do that I shoulda done. Let's try again, and give me more grace, and give me more strength, and give me more courage, and . . ." And then back out we go. You know? It's a beautiful thing I think, to see the light on in the confessional. The light's on, God's waitin’ for you, and it may have been a long, long time, but I know you'll kick yourself for not having gone a long, long time ago. And if it's something that's regular for you, this is a great time to make a great confession, to make an extraordinary confession, to take a deeper look at your life, to go maybe a little deeper than you have in the past, and say, "OK. I'm gonna come before God. I put myself before God and ask him to give me a fresh start." I think that's, that's a thing of beauty. That is a, that’s a beautiful thing.
Pilgrim or Tourist
For more than 20 years, you know, I’ve been leading groups on pilgrimage, to Rome, Assisi, the Holy Land, Fatima, Lourdes . . . so many incredible, holy places. And it’s amazing to see the groups come on pilgrimage. Different people from all across America come together and they meet there for the rest time. But there’s this real bond that exists, even on the first day. And when I first get the group together, um, on each trip, I always talk about the same thing. And the question I pose before them is um, "Are you going to be a pilgrim, or are you going to be a tourist?" OK? Because there's a difference between a pilgrimage and um, you know, just a, a vacation. A pilgrimage certainly can be a vacation, and maybe one of the best ways to have a vacation, but there is a real difference between, between the two. And um, there's a phenomenal difference between the way a pilgrim behaves and the way a tourist behaves. And right at the core of that is sort of an awareness or, or a yearning for God to speak to us, for God to lead us, for God to direct us, for God to . . . um . . . disclose his will, to show us what he wants from us, or what he wants for us. And, and the pilgrim is always looking for those signs. The pilgrim is patient, I think, above all else. You know if, if the flight is delayed, the tourist is like, "Aw, I’m going to miss this, I already made these plans and that's gonna be ruined, and . . ." If the flight is delayed, the pilgrim asks, "What is God trying to teach me through this delayed flight? Is God trying to teach me to be more patient? Is God trying to teach me that I need to slow down? You know? What is, what is God trying to say to me?" And the pilgrim is, is very proactive, is very, is looking for the signs, is not waiting for God to beat him or her over the head with a message, but is really eyes wide open, looking for the signs. In life I think we have to ask the same question. You know? "Are we pilgrims, or are we tourists?" And, and some people live their whole life like a tourist. And we are called to live our lives like pilgrims. This is not home. We can set ourselves up pretty good on this Earth, and convince ourselves that this is home. But we’re just passing through here. We can make our homes nice and put things in the right place and feel like everything’s great, but this is not home. We are just passing through this earth, and I think it is really important from time to time to remind ourselves of that. You know? And we are on this journey to be with God. You know? We are on this journey to be with God forever in eternity. And, this is not home. We’re passing through this place. And when you think about how quickly life does pass, and you think about how quickly we do pass through this life, I think it's important to ask ourselves, "Are we preparing ourselves to live in heaven?" You know? "Are we prepared for the next life?" You know? And if we’re not prepared, "What do we need to do to get prepared?" You know? As we make this journey as pilgrims, how do we get prepared to live with God forever in eternity? Because there is uh, I mean, just a phenomenal temptation, a phenomenal draw, to think of this world as all there is, to think of this world as, "this is it, this is home." And when we do that, we rob ourselves of infinite possibilities, and we start to live in ways that don't lead us to God, that don't lead us to happiness, that don't lead us to that-very-best-version-of-ourselves.
The First Intervention
Once a year I have a um physical, a checkup with my doctor. You know? And a . . . have a bunch of tests, and I go and I meet with the doctor, and um, you know, he talks about different things: "Oh, you got to work on this, got to work on that." And then he, he sends me in the mail like a letter, like, "These are the things I want you to work on this year." It’s an interesting experience, I mean every year you realize wow, he said that last year, I did nothing about that. You know, I didn’t even think about it, or wow he said that last year but I’ve really improved on that, and that’s good.
You know from time to time, I think we also need the same thing, like spiritually. You know? Uh, to ask ourselves, "Am I spiritually fit, am I spiritually healthy?" You know? And also we need a plan to increase our spiritual health. And I think it's possible that a great many people have never in their lives had a plan to get spiritually healthy. And of course that’s where we’re leading . . . with this whole reflection on Resisting Happiness, with this whole journey we’re making together, that's where we’re leading. We need a plan to get spiritually healthy. And there, there may be many, many different components of that plan, and some of them might be daily components, and some of them might be annual components, and some of them might be just things you need to do once. But we need a plan. And there's no one plan that I can print out and say, "OK, this is for everyone. This is the plan for everyone." And the plan we put together for you now might not necessarily be the plan for you next year or the year after that. Because there are seasons in our lives, and there are different things that need attention and focus at different times in our lives. But what I'm absolutely convinced of is, is we do need a plan. We all need a plan . . . to grow spiritually and to develop, um . . . spiritual health. And so I think today is a good day to ask, "You know, am I spiritually fit? How healthy am I spiritually?" And, "What's gonna be my plan? Is it gonna be some daily prayer?" You know? "Is it going to be some spiritual reading? Is it going to be visiting the lonely? Is it going to be getting more involved in my parish?" What's gonna be your plan? And, and to write it down. You know, the architect doesn't say, "OK, I've got it all in my head now, let's start building." The architect, he writes it down, he draws the lines. And, and then the builder can take that and say, "OK, he wants that there, that there. . . " We need a plan. We need to write it down.It's possible that never in your life have you had such a plan. And that's actually good news. It's actually good news because it, it shows that incredible things are still possible.
So take some time today, reflect back on some of the things we've talked about, sit down, write yourself a plan, not too long, not too short. Write yourself a plan, give it a time: Is this a plan for a year? Is it a plan for a month? But put yourself together a, a plan to get spiritually healthy. Great things are about to happen as soon as you put that plan together. Great things are about to happen.
About the Author
Matthew Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia. He has dedicated his life to helping people and organizations become the-best-version-of-themselves. Kelly is a New York Times bestselling author, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and a business consultant to some of the world’s largest and most admired companies. He is the author of more than thirty books, which have sold more than forty-five million copies and have been published in more than thirty languages.
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