An Encouraging Word — Becoming the ‘driver’ in your life

Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12: 31

As many of you know, I collect motivational quotes. They help me remain focused on where I need and want to go, especially during times when I am most likely to lose my focus.

Because I believe in the effectiveness of encouraging myself along the high road of empowerment, rather than passively surrendering to the swamps of victimhood, I try to take responsibility for my own happiness by cooperating with God in becoming all that he has called me to be.

One of my most favorite quotes comes from Henry Ford who said, “Those who think they can, and those who think they can’t, are both right.”

It always reminds me of the day when life took a radical turn for the good when I decided to change my mind about who I was and what was possible for me. Basically, I made a decision to get out of the back seat of my own life and get behind the wheel. That radical conversion of thinking transfigured my self-view and allowed me to imagine new possibilities of what life could be for me.

Moving from a mindset of victimhood to self-empowerment is never magic. Wishing for it is not enough. It requires courage and hard work. First, we have to stand up to our own lazy streak which tells us that we can get from Egypt to the Promised Land without a desert, that real change is cheap and easy.

Second, we have to stand up to the judgment of those who know us as we are now and are loathe to watch us change into someone else who might challenge their comforts, habits and values.

If we want to be pilots of our own lives, we must learn to selectively screen in who and what helps us stay healthy and screen out who and what could destroy us. This kind of “living on purpose” requires  the attitude and attention of a disciplined mind.

While I believe wholeheartedly in self-empowerment and self-rescue, I also believe wholeheartedly in the necessity of helping others. (I waited until after the election so that this would not be “used” politically.) I have done a lot of work on myself since my conversion experience, when I made a radical turn from being a back-seat passenger to driver behind the wheel of life, but I have also had a whole lot of help.

I would never be where I am today without the help of others. I would never have had the chance to go to college. I would never have been able to go to the seminary. I would never have been able to be a priest.

Who helped me? Many of you. Many of your parents and grandparents. Those who put their hard-earned money in collection baskets years ago in support of seminarians.

As always, the truth stands in the middle. It is never a matter of either/or, but both/and. Help yourself and help your neighbor.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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