My brother Nolan has self-discipline like few others I know. Every morning he is up at 4:45 a.m. to get to the gym by 5:15. Nolan then gets back home before his wife and 18-month-old wake up at 6:30. The guy gets in the healthiest of breakfasts (believe me, no Pop-Tarts for him); then he helps his wife make sure their son hasn’t smuggled the peanut butter jar to take to daycare — and then they are all out the door by 7:45.
The remarkable thing about how Nolan lives is that it is intricately connected to his why. There is purpose behind everything he does. The reason why Nolan lives the way he does is because each choice helps him ascend to the heights of holiness. His day-to-day decisions and habits are simply a reflection of his drive to live the highest form of human life: the life of virtue.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said that to evangelize is “to teach the art of living.” That, brothers and sisters, is the secret to evangelization. We are called not merely to impart truths to the people we lead, but to show those whom we are leading how we live our days in accordance with the vision we have for life.
Let’s rewind for a second. Before we teach that art, we have to start living in pursuit of that “high life” first. I want to show you where this happens in the context of your (very short) time on Earth:
Virtue and evangelization dwell between where you are now and where you are called to be: the “growth” portion of your life. Most of you will say that where you are now is not where you want to be. However, the painstaking truth is that most people will never do anything to change that.
Aristotle once said that “all men live, but only some really live well — those that live the life of virtue.” Virtue comes from the word virtus, which in Greek means “excellence.”
The best cars are those that will get you to your destination time and time again. The best runners are those that win marathons. The best humans are those that live life with excellence.
This brings me to a couple questions for you:
- Think of the last moments you will have at the end of your time on Earth — those last few days when you will be thinking, “Did I actually become all I was meant to be?” If you did become all you were meant to be, how would you have lived your life?
- Now, thinking back to your last two weeks: What would need to be different about how you are living so that it would be driving your why each day? Would you need to get up earlier to work out? Would you need to put more time aside to read instead of watching Netflix? Would you need to put your phone down?
The things we do habitually each day will lead us to sainthood. The choices we make every hour are the ways we drive our sanctity. Stephen Covey, author of one of my favorite books (“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) puts it best: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Choices -> Habits -> Virtue -> Sanctity
I am proposing that today, you start living your days with a principle behind them, a why. Why do you live your day the way you live it? Start living with an intentionality that drives the decisions you make. Everything you do should be ordered toward eliminating the gap between how you are living now and how your life should be lived in full.
Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Things get real when you start numbering the days you have left. Just remember that you were made for this. You were made to live on the highest plane of life.