Why do you get out of bed each day?
One of my mentors asked me that question last December. This one question radically changed my life.
Let me translate this question. My mentor was really asking, “Are you properly invested into your own life?” or “Have you assigned the proper value or significance to your life?”
These questions preceded a suggestion that I develop a compelling mission statement for my life, coupled with equally compelling goals.
Before I really engaged those questions, I thought my life was good. I had a plan for my life and I seemed to be exactly where I should be. My faith journey had provided me with a sense of wholeness and well-being. My children are well educated adults with wonderful lives and careers. My wife and I have been careful to save for our retirement.
I enjoy serving a very loving congregation. I have a terminal degree from an Ivy League seminary. On the day of that question, life was good and appeared to be on schedule.
My mentor wanted me to push myself from the “good” category to the “great” category. He accused me of selfishness. I planned my life to get the things my family and I needed. I paced myself through life so that I would be able to retire with dignity.
This mentor suggested that I had the capacity to do much more. While it was wonderful that I made plans as a young adult for my retirement, I did not make a plan to be all that I could be. I did not make a plan to provide God with the maximum return for God’s investment in me.
Not only could I provide for my family, but I could use the skills and resources life had provided to greatly impact the lives of others. Did God give me a lifetime of experiences for my personal benefit?
This mentor suggested that I should write down a new life mission statement that took into consideration my journey up until that day. What was life preparing me to do?
Next, I was told to write goals that would literally get me out of my bed each morning – goals that were exciting, energizing and expansive. These goals should be so massive and challenging that they could be achievable only with divine intervention.
The last instruction I received was that I should write these goals down every morning and every evening. They should be that important to me. I should live with a preoccupation of obtaining these goals.
That was a tall order. It caused me to take a very long and difficult look in the mirror. I experienced a paradigm shift. Instantly, I redefined success as “the outcome of being and doing all one is capable of, for the good of all humankind.”
Since this paradigm shift, I have found new reasons to get out of bed each day. My alarm clock is like the starter’s gun at a horse race. Each moment of the day has new meaning and purpose.
I never imagined that after more than 60 years of life, I could be refocused by one single question.
That leaves me with one question for you: “Why do you get out of bed each day?”
The Rev. Dr. Jon R. Black is senior pastor at Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bluffton.