Today is the start of a very special series for our spiritual laws of nature: the top 10 spiritual laws ever, as chosen by you, my long-time readers and listeners. These are in no particular order, so I’d encourage you to be sure and catch them all! First up for today’s teaching, I should probably explain where that name comes from.
When I was finishing my Ph.D. in psychology, I had a specialty in psychometrics, which is the construction and administration of tests. I spent a lot of time in metro schools for that, probably thirty or even forty in all from high school all the way down to kindergarten, and one of my favorite things to see in all those different schools was Career Day.
What really struck me about it was how differently those six-year old’s valued things. You might see an incredibly successful businessman in there, talking about the company he owns and how he became the man he is today, and for the most part, those kids didn’t seem too impressed. But you get a fireman or a policeman in there and suddenly they light up. In fact, the most popular guy I ever saw at one of those events was a construction worker—not an architect or a foreman, just a common laborer. He built some little project there in the classroom, let them help out a little, and they were really into it!
I started to think about what was meaningful to me when I was that age. People, family, and friends, how I felt about myself, truth, fairness, courage, talent. Being rich doesn’t really have a lot of practical importance for a kid. The most important things to me as a kid were who I would play with that day, what I was going to do that day, how my relationships were going that day.
It reminds me of Jim Valvano. He was a basketball coach at North Carolina State University who contracted cancer and died young. Before he died, ESPN partnered with him to create a cancer foundation, and they still air a speech that he gave every year on the anniversary of his death. In it, Jim talked about what, to him, made a great day. A great day, he said, is one where you laugh a little, sincerely and from the gut, where you cry a little, or at least something touches you to the point of tears, and where you learn something. Every day, you try to laugh a little, cry a little, and learn something. I think those kids in the schoolroom would mostly agree with that.
Then comes adulthood. Sometimes you have to look back and wonder what happened.
Three primary sinkholes tend to pull us down on our way to that sort of day. The first is unhealthy desires of the five senses. Alcohol, smoking, sexual temptations, drugs—even perfectly innocuous things like reading or television can fall into this category if we’re indulging in them in an unhealthy way. Probably over 90 percent of the people I’ve worked within the last 30 years are stuck on this issue.
The second is money, and the things money will buy. Often, people use money to fund that first sinkhole, but as a separate issue, it is more a question of priorities. As a kid, I remember not caring about money at all. Why should I? I didn’t need it for any of the things that were important to me at the time. In my 10 years of ministry, working with kids and their parents I saw that money wasn’t a big deal to them either. Of course, a certain amount of care for money is a necessary part of growing up. You have to manage your budget, make sure you can pay for food, that sort of thing. The problem I see comes when you go beyond that and start seeing the next promotion or the next big house as your goals or expectations in life, even though you probably won’t be any happier with them than without them.
The third and final sinkhole is what I call “unhealthy prideful desires.” Now, I don’t mean things like being proud of a loved one for their accomplishments, or “Mustang Pride” or whatever your local sports team is. I mean things like arrogance, self-importance, and “business deal love.” Unhealthy prideful desires make your life all about you. This type of love only lasts as long as you’re getting what you want and the other person doesn’t cross certain lines, rather than allowing you both to be yourself, warts and all.
So this week, I recommend you take a few moments to imagine that you have only one week left to live and write out a list of what the most important things would be for that week. Is that what you’re living for now, or have you been sidetracked by money, pride, or desires of the five senses? Remember that one day, you really will only have a week left. Don’t wait until then to start experiencing great days.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!