Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Achieve, Inspire, Make a Difference

Apparently someone is selling this as a 10 step, transform your life program. I am noticing more and more verbs lately. Believe. Succeed. We seem to know what we want to do. We may have even experienced it briefly a few times in our life. What many have trouble with is the object. Achieve what? Inspire what? Make what kind of difference? Believe what? Succeed at what? People know they want to go somewhere. They want to know how to get there. Yet they don't want to think about the destination. They just want to think about the mode of transport. It seems backwards to me. First figure out what can give your life meaning and purpose. Once you have done that then the question of how to get there will be way easier to answer. If I don't know whether I need to go next door or to another continent I can't begin to plan my trip.

One thing to think about is from this Sunday's gospel:
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." Luke 12:18-21
Whatever is going to give a person's life meaning an purpose it need to account for the reality of death. Not just your own death but the death of everyone you know. Sartre said, "Nothing finite can have any significance without an infinite reference point". That means you need to achieve, inspire, or make a difference in an eternal way. Temporal things will disappear. They look significant for a while but they fad into nothingness as time moves on.

The good news is that is is possible to store up riches that are eternal. People have souls that live forever. What we do in this life does impact the eternal destiny of our souls and the souls of other people. So how do we achieve, inspire, and make a difference?  For the answer to that Jesus has another parable:
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

The plan is so simple. Just sow seed. Anywhere. Anytime. Don't be discouraged if some reject it. Don't even be discouraged if some seem to accept it but it does not seem to transform their lives like you hope. Know that some will be transformed. Your efforts will achieve success with some. They will be inspired. They will make a huge difference. It does not require a 10 step plan. Just stop worrying about how people might react and keep sowing.

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