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The Reason Why…

16January2012

The mom of one of our fifth graders dropped off a recent spelling list that her youngster had brought home from school. Apparently, the thing to do these days is to have thematic lists…and the theme for this particular list was the “Hero.” Twenty words…twenty characteristics that could be ascribed to heroes.

It’s hard to argue with a list like this one: courage, compassion, integrity, initiative, perseverance, flexibility, responsibility, honesty, respectfulness, citizenship, trustworthiness, effort, fairness, patience, sense of humor, friendship, kindness, optimistic, patriotic, enthusiastic. (In the interest of full disclosure: I misspelled two of these words just typing the list. So much for being smarter than a fifth grader.)

As commendable as these attributes may be, however, simply possessing them doesn’t make us good or right. The question needs to be asked: In whose service do we exhibit these behaviors? For what reason might we aspire to these things? Is it possible to have courage and initiative, to be flexible and optimistic and enthusiastic for the wrong reasons?

Of course it is…which is what makes it so important to be aware of why it is that we want to be or to do any particular thing in our lives. It’s good to be responsible and to put forth our best efforts. But if we’re not doing it for the right reason…in pursuit of the right goals…it’s still wrong. The bottom line? Motivation matters.

And motivation…the reason why…is a matter of faith. Christians trust that God is the creating, redeeming and sustaining source of the cosmos. We believe that the designs and purposes of this God have been preeminently revealed in Jesus the Christ. And we confess that we are called to partnership with this God in the reconciliation and restoration of the world after the manner of that same Jesus Christ.

So it is that Christ becomes our motivation…our “reason why”…our objective. And in pursuit of that objective we will strive to be as heroic as we can possibly be, acknowledging that our response to God’s call is never perfect…and rejoicing in the grace and mercy of God which redeems even our most un-heroic moments.

Be a hero? Sure. Who wouldn’t want to have a life so characterized? But being a hero for all the right reasons…in partnership with Christ himself…is an even more noble aspiration.

DLN@CCD

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Pamela permalink
    16January2012 17:08

    amen! my own spiritual director often holds my feet to the fire when i am planning to do something, or wondering whether or not to take some action or ask a question of somebody else. She always says: Examine the motivation at the root of this. What is your intention? Sometimes we do things for purely self-serving reasons — and they may not necessarily be “bad” things. But if we are aware that we are trying to meet our own egoic needs, we can name the goal as “our” agenda and try again to see if our agenda is at all in line with what God’s agenda might be. Our perspective shifts, and we have a different set of expectations of what is a good or effective outcome of our actions.

    Those are just my initial thoughts in response to your posting…. I would guess that more will come — not an easy practice, this whole thing of stripping yourself of pretense or delusion and then look into a mirror to see what is “really” going on.

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