I recently heard you answer questions to an audience of professionals. The first question was, ‘What is the key to success?’ Your answer was: ‘Learning to do the right things even when you don’t feel like doing them.’ The second question was, ‘What’s the most powerful thing in the world?’ To that question you answered: ‘A decision.’ Will you please elaborate on those answers from a Catholic perspective?
Due to our fallen nature, we have a tendency to take the path of least resistance. This, of course, is not always sinful. Clearly, taking the escalator instead of the stairs is not a moral debate. Yet this tendency can lead to sin.
I am reminded of this when I pick up the television remote. On the one hand, the remote is very handy and is a useful invention. On the other hand, it produces laziness. In fact, many of us would admit, at one time or another, that we actually decided not to watch television because we couldn’t find the remote. The “work” involved in actually standing up to change a channel may have seemed so daunting that we chose a different activity.
While there’s plenty of room for that type of situation to be morally neutral, the idea that sloth can enter into our lives in the strangest ways is something to consider.
The remote example is a metaphor for the rest of our lives. Unless we learn to do the little things within our control, such as change the channel without a remote, we can’t succeed.
Success takes discipline. So does holiness. If we are tempted to sin, we must overcome the temptation. Sins of omission are just as important to remember. Failing to help the poor or to show mercy is only overcome by doing what we can for others. That is the key to success and the key to holiness. The good news is that if you have a Christ-centered life, your success does not need to compete with your holiness. It becomes part of it.
The second question is very closely related to the first. Simply put, nothing happens if we don’t make a decision. God does not force us to accept him. He invites us. Therefore, we must decide to follow him. That decision is what creates a platform for his grace to land.
God’s love in our lives is always there, but it is our decision to accept it that starts the action. Even love itself has no power without a decision. If love did not require a decision, then commitment would not be part and parcel with love.
The decision to love and continue to love can be remade hundreds of times per day.
Even the answer to the first question presupposes that a decision needs to be made in order to do what you don’t feel like doing. That doesn’t happen automatically.
The good news in all of this is that you and I have what it takes to find success and sainthood. We all have access to a decision to do so, and once that decision is made, we have the opportunity to accept the grace we need to move forward — even when we don’t feel like it. Remember that the gifts of the Holy Spirit play an amazing role in empowering both answers.
consultant Dave Durand
is online at DaveDurand.com.