Reflecting on the Road Less Traveled
As I consider these important experiences and decisions from my past, some were complete directional changes with my life, some involved embracing new ways of living and some were profound mindset shifts. As I reflect on the process that led to embracing these choices, I remember leaning on the invaluable lessons I learned from my parents, the positive behaviors I observed from people I respect, my wife, children, my own intuition, and the values taught by my faith. Here are the four that stand out most:
Understanding that my work exists to serve my family. My family does not exist to serve my work. I made a life-changing shift in how I viewed work later in life. I had been fortunate to enjoy having a career that I liked and for the most part having a job. I made a fundamental shift in my thinking when I wanted to serve God in a deeper sense. My family supported me for many years while I drew closer to becoming a deacon. I stopped asking my family to sacrifice for my work and asked to make a family sacrifice for God. All though in the eyes of my wife this was not a sacrifice as much as growing closer to God as a family. My career continued to thrive despite the boundaries I placed around it and focusing on putting my family and God first.
Embracing a grateful mindset. Long ago, my wife and I began working very hard to model a life focused on gratefulness for our children and those we encounter each day. We know this ongoing effort has absolutely transformed us. This includes also being grateful for our challenges and seeing the adversity we have endured in our lives as a blessing, not a burden. “Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest.” Matt 11:28-30
Living an authentic and integrated life. I have worked very hard over the last 50 plus years to be the same person in all areas of my life and strive to be consistently authentic as a businessperson, husband, father, community servant and man of faith. I see all these areas of my life as integrated and not existing in their own silos. I am very open about my life outside of work and am always interested in learning about others. Authenticity in today’s world can be challenging as we may fear judgment, isolation or condemnation for expressing views out of sync with popular opinion, but I would argue that a life lived without authenticity is no way to live.
People must see that there is something special in our lives. They need to see that our lives aren’t based on our own selfish ambitions, desires, or our lusts. They need to see that we truly desire to follow God’s direction for our lives, that we are selfless, willing serve the needs of others, that we stand for what is right, that we care. They need to see the love of God in us.
Sometimes the road less traveled is a lonely one. But when you have Christ with you know you will be all right.