Perspectives on goals, values, and what defines them are as different from person to person, as people are unique unto themselves as a group. That being said, as different as we all are, common threads of experience run through all of our lives. Some of those threads are fact-based, while others are meaning-based. It is at the boundary between those two areas where life gets interesting.
With this in mind, I heard a talk the other day that was as mind opening as any I have ever heard. Normally in my blogs I don’t discuss other people’s talks, but this one was so different and, well, correct (at least for me) that I want to relate the gist of the talk to you. It started with a Bible quote. It wasn’t just any quote; it was from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, one of the most significant sermons given in the Bible. I am sure that most of us recognize the words. He began like this:
“…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.
And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
Many of us never gave it a lot of thought, but notice something; today, many people often read those lines as some kind of permission to “do your thing,” sure in the knowledge that things will just work out. Everything will just come to you; sounds kinda hippy dippy, sort of Gen Y. Kind of freeing. Something out of The Secret, right?
That isn’t what it means at all.
I learned that day that it is quite seriously notthe correct interpretation because there is a follow up with this quotation that I never recognized. It was, of course, always there, but I never made the connection; the follow up is this:
“For our heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things but seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
That’s a pretty big qualifier! Now, read together, it means something altogether different from the hippie-feeling first verses, right? Do you see it yet?
Do you see the really, really, really interesting/compelling/challenging/magical idea held in those verses when read together? It may be one of the most profound ideas I have ever experienced. If you remove the direct biblical imagery and focus on the metaphorical level, the idea is this:
If you arrange your life so that what you are genuinely doing is aiming at the highest possible good,
then the things that you need to survive and thrive
on a daily basis will deliver themselves to you.
You say in that context, it is but a theory, and I say to you that it is no simple theory. It is a metaphorical guide of the highest order. What it says at a fundamental level is that if you dare to do the most difficult thing you can imagine, your life will work out better than if you do anything else! Period.
Well, you ask, how can you know if that is true? Well, face it, it is a Kierkegaardianleap of faith. Meaning that there is no way you will ever find out if that is true for you unless you do it. And, truly no one can tell you it will turn out that way because it did for them. You actually have to go out and try it for yourself.
You have to be all-in in this game, so the idea to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” is a pretty important precaution when you’re talking about not having to pay attention to what you’re going to eat and drink and wear. Notice the word “first”—that is the key word.
What it is basically saying is that those daily living problems listed are trivial, and that if you establish yourself properly in the world, the chances of those “trivial things” that we think are so important will come your way is extraordinarily high. And you know what guys? I find myself believing exactly that. I never gave it a lot of thought, but as a coach, I have watched people move through the world in all kinds of ways, and I can say without reservation that there is no more effective way of living than to imagine the highest good that you can achieve, and then strive to attain it. There is no more practical or realistic pathway to the kind of success that’s possible, if you actually knew what success was. None. But first you must have a long term goal.
There is no more effective way
of living than to
imagine the highest
good that you can achieve,
and then strive to attain it.
That is what the sermon is attempting to develop for and in your life. Like the story of Pinocchio. In the beginning of the story, Geppetto wishes on a star. In that moment, he aligns himself with the symbolic indication of the highest good he can imagine.
In that wish, he starts down a path, makes a commitment, he aims at the star, an unimaginably difficult star to reach. For him, the star is nothing less than the very possibility that he can take his creation—the puppet with strings that can be pulled by anyone—or (metaphorically each of us) by unseen forces and have that puppet transformed into something that is autonomous and real. Well, fellows, that is a heck of an ambition indeed.
Here is a question to consider. If we are wise enough to put that extraordinarily deep concept in children’s movies but too foolish to understand what it means in our daily lives, what does that mean for us? You have to admit that it is an interesting concurrence that we can both know something and not know it at the same time. You can take your child to the movie, and watch it, and know it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean that you will go home and think, “Well, I know what that meant for my life.”
People are complicated in the way we exist at different levels simultaneously, and not all the levels communicate with each other, but the movie is actually a theory. The proposition it offers, like the sermon, is that there’s no better pathway to self-realization and the ennoblement of one’s own being than to imagine the highest good that you can conceive and to then commit yourself to it. You might also consider this next question carefully as well: Do you really have anything better to do and if you don’t, why would you do anything else but that thing?
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Yes, I get it… you can read this as kind of pro- grasshopper and anti-ant. (You all remember the Aesop Fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant).
Again, you’d be mistaken if you see it that way.
What it really says is something completely different. What it says is that ifyou orient yourself properly, and then pay attention to what you do every day, things work out. And by the way, I actually believe that, and think that the idea is in complete agreement with what we have come to understand about human perception.
If you orient yourself properly,
and then pay
attention to what you
do every day, things work out.
Have you ever noticed that what so often happens in the world is that things shift around your own aims? Right—you have to have an aim, but people are creatures programmed to aim. We are goal oriented; we look at a point and we move towards it. It is built right into us.
So you have an aim, and let’s say that your aim is the highest possible aim. Do you see how that sets up the world around you and organizes all of your perceptions? What you see and what you don’t see? It organizes your emotions and your motivations around that single aim, and what happens? The day reveals itself as a set of challenges and problems and if you solve them properly, you stay on the pathway towards that aim. You can concentrate on the day at hand.
It is kind of like having your cake and getting to eat it too because you can point or aim into the distance as far as you can imagine; you can live in the day working towards that aim. Can you see how that could make every moment of the day supercharged with meaning? How good is that! If everything you are doing every day is related to the highest possible good or goal that you can imagine, isn’t that the very meaning of what can sustain you in your life?
So give this some thought as well. When pandemonium reigns, when things really fall apart for you—and we all know that they do from time to time—wouldn’t it be better to be doing something you know is truly worthwhile—aiming for your highest goal? Do you see it yet? Do you see that only that kind of focus will keep you going when everything is falling apart?
And trust me, you don’t want to wait until the pandemonium comes to start figuring out what is important to you; it’s too late then. You need to be well on your way if you want to reach your goals.
So get up and set your sights to your highest and best possible goal and then get to work. What are you waiting for, a message from God?
So, what do you have for goals? What are your values? Ready to take on move on them and get your life on the track right for you? You really should…Don’t you think?
If you you aren’t sure what to do first, give me a call and lets see where it goes… Schedule a time for a free call and tell me your story.
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