So Many Choices!

Modern American culture offers us more choices on how to spend our time than in any time in the history of humankind.  In many ways, these opportunities are  blessings; but the sheer number of opportunities also poses challenges.

As the school year wraps up for families and they move into a “summer” schedule, this reality comes into focus for many parents.  But even for those who don’t have the responsibility of planning a summer’s worth of activities for their children, this time of year offers an opportunity to be more intentional.

Intentional is a big word in the world of stewardship and evangelization. We are being first called to be and then to formintentional disciples”.  In our stewardship pillar, Dedicated Discipleship, we are invited to practice intentional love of God and neighbor.  Clearly, in the midst of this milieu of choices, Catholic stewards are being invited to do more than just drift through our days wandering from one activity to another aimlessly.

There are many ways we can be more intentional, but today I would like to offer just one useful tool for sifting through the many choices we face.  It has clarified my options and has assisted me in understanding my underlying motivations and desires.  And it is simply this: the difference between a value and an ideal:

  • A Value is something I believe is good and also is something I am willing to sacrifice something else for to have in my life now.
  • An Ideal is also something I believe is good, but it is not something I am willing to sacrifice something else to have in my life now.

This knowledge has been a great tool for slicing through the myriad of good things there are to choose from in our culture.  In striving to be intentional, it is also a helpful tool in sorting the good from the best.  Because as Andrew Pudewa has said, “The challenge is not to let good things get in the way of the best things.”

So here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • If I look at the way I spend my time now, what do my choices reveal about what I consider a value and what I consider an ideal?
  • As I plan for the summer, how would I categorize possible activities for myself or for my children as “values” or as “ideals”?
  • Most importantly, for the dedicated disciple, what would Jesus put under the “value” column?  Does my list correspond to his? Am I willing to sacrifice to put those things He values most into my life today?

This last question is important as we strive to live this Catholic Way of Life.  In our Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, it states some of the ideals we are striving for as:

  • “The majority of our parishioners put fellowship with Jesus Christ and His Church above their participation in sports, media or other leisure activities encouraged by our culture.”
  • And, “Many parishioners practice intentional generosity . . . generously give themselves in service inside and outside the church . . . practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy . . . . and are intentional and active in caring for the poor and marginalized.”

Certainly anyone reading this, and perhaps the vast majority of those who come to church on Sunday would see the activities outlined above as good.  The important question is, though, are they a value or are they an ideal?  As stewards, we are invited to continue to encourage and inspire each other to intentionally choose the living out of our faith in concrete ways and perhaps more importantly, to be willing to sacrifice other things in order to do so. Distinguishing our values from our ideals assists us in doing just that.

 

2 Comments

  1. Excellent thoughts Shawna. I’m so glad I had the presence of mind as I have done all throughout the Lenten/Easter Season to turn off the television and focus on “true values”, i.e. reading your news letter, reading the recent West River Catholic and getting ready to lector and lead a Rosary for our Knights this weekend. Ha! Every once in awhile I can celebrate the slow transformational process. I’d like to think that I’m getting better at “remaining in him”!

    Reply
  2. Great definitions of “ideal” and “Value” This makes it so easy to look at my day, at my activities, my habits and see what is really of VALUE to me. Most of all, what JESUS values most for my life. For me, being intentional in prayer, giving, reflecting has made my life more focused and fruitful.

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