Weekly Thought – January 17, 2023
Fred established the wording for his tombstone as a young man in his twenties: “He stretched others.” His headstone in his Restland/Dallas space has those three words. When speaking of that desire he was often asked about its origin. This week features an answer he gave to a magazine interviewer.
Question: “How did you decided your life mission was to stretch others?”
“I haven’t the vaguest idea how it came to be. I just realized I had an internal interest. Even all these years later I never tire of it. I have a gift for it and I have never found anything that interested me more than this pursuit. When I analyzed my activities I always get to the core and the common denominator: the desire to stretch others.”
Friends of mine who are artists or athletes have individual aims for personal development. There is certainly nothing wrong with that – it just wasn’t what attracted me. My friend who is a professional golfer strives to keep improving his game to be the best he can possibly be. Excellence is his development goal. My desire is excellence, as well, but it just happens to be in stretching others.
In thinking about personal development I see a clear difference between direction and goals. Direction is your ultimate destination – where you want your life to arrive. Goals are the specific steps you take along the way. It is crucial for goals to be in harmony with the direction.
A direction should be long term and in sync with the person you want to be. I often ask our children: “Are you satisfied with the direction you are going? Are you pleased with who you are becoming?” These questions relate to destination, not 3 or 5 year goals unless they are in line with where they want to be.
As a young man I had a clear sense of who I wanted to be even though I had no opportunities for college education, nor financial resources. I knew the gifts God gave me and developed a plan to set a direction which would allow me to operate within them. Scripture tells us Abraham set out “not knowing where he was going.” He didn’t have a map, but he had a Guide and set out. I, too, set out with a direction. I learned excellence in stretching others as I benefitted from those who believed in me.
The Puritans used the word “calling” as an expression of direction and vision. They believed it was each person’s contribution to the common good. Stretching others is my calling – my contribution.
Think carefully this week about: 1) What is my calling? 2) How clear am I on the direction I am taking? 3) When do I experience a strong sense of direction?
Words of Wisdom: “It is crucial for goals to be in harmony with direction.”
Wisdom from the Word: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8 NET Bible)