Summary: The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction.
Anteambulo: A Strategy for Conquering Your World
Pursue your passion! Find your sweet spot! Follow your heart! Dream big! It’s with words such as these that we encourage the young.
But what if it’s horse crap? What if this is exactly the wrong thing to do?
Think for a moment about the pitfalls of narrowing your focus to the fulfillment of some supposed dream. You might accomplish it but miss some valuable experiences along the way because they didn’t fit with your plan. You might disregard some key relationships because those people, frankly, had nothing to offer you in your drive to greatness.
What if you dreamed big, but utterly failed? You might deteriorate into perpetual victimhood and your constant theme become, “Life’s not fair.” You might devolve into resentment and angrily rail at the world for not recognizing your intelligence or talent or beauty.
Let’s be honest for a moment: very few people actually accomplish the big dream that they dreamed in their youth. Most of us settle and we become comfortably numb living from pay check to pay check and small pleasure to small pleasure. Maybe we’ll get to retire for a few years and play some rounds of golf or travel a little before we die. But there’s an aching void inside us for that thing we never achieved and the potential that we sense was wasted.
This morning I want to propose a different path. It’s the way of the anteambulo. I’m not going to tell you what that means just yet, but it is the counterintuitive secret that guarantees success.
First, let’s talk about human nature. There is a reason we strive after personal greatness. It’s because what we want most of all is to be happy.
Don’t deny the truth. Every free will choice that you make is based on happiness. If it’s a legitimate choice, you made it because you thought it would maximize your personal happiness.
The entire field of economics is based on this truth. You do what you think will make you happy. Are you always right? No. Sometimes our choices lead us to unhappiness.
I know that some of you will object and try to tell me that people make choices all the time that are not related to their personal happiness. For example, a parent works their fingers to the bone in thankless job that they hate to provide for their children. That choice to work that job didn’t make them happy. True, but providing for their children did. Some people choose to endure persecution or martyrdom for Christ’s sake. Torture and death don’t make us happy. True. But honoring God above our own lives does make us happy.
It’s inescapable. We are hardwired for happiness. This is while Jesus could tell us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We naturally seek our happiness, our own self-interest.
Here’s the rub, God has hard-wired us to seek happiness and yet He appears to call us to a life that goes contrary to our nature. The best example of this comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he wrote: