Practicing Faith

How do you practice your faith?  Or perhaps you don’t think you have faith.

We all believe in something.  We couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning if we didn’t believe something was true, meaningful, or valuable.  Whatever those things are, that’s your faith.

I think faith has at least three parts:

  1. Understanding our faith.
  2. Connecting with like minded individuals in a community of faith.
  3. Practicing our faith.

By understanding our faith I mean drilling down into those writings, traditions, and ideas that are the underpinnings of our faith.  If our faith has scriptures, then those scriptures are the foundation that faith is built upon.  So it is important to know them, understand them, and to reflect on your life in the context of those scriptures.

If your faith has no scripture, then ask yourself what are the writings or the sources of the ideas upon which your faith is built.  Again, dig into them, know them, understanding them.  And reflect upon your own life in the context of those writings.

What can you do to embody those ideas on which your faith is built?

It is important to connect with others who share your faith.  We are social animals.  We need other people.  We want our faith validated by others who value the same things we do.  We can encourage each other in our faith, and pick each other up when we fall down.

Finally we need to practice our faith.  We want our actions to embody those ideas we value.  And it is easier to practice in groups than it is alone.  If you believe in public service, then find a group that is doing work you value.

Act on your faith and passion with those who share your faith and passion, and you will make a lasting difference in the world.

But ask yourself whether you and your group are a blessing or curse upon the world.  And if it is that later, perhaps it is time to reexamine your faith.

The Vision Thing

George H. W. Bush never got the vision thing, and neither did I.  All the self-improvement gurus like Covey stress the importance of “Begin with the end in mind.”  I just couldn’t seem to get a glimpse of what, if anything, my mind had in mind.

Moreover, glomming together a bunch of superlatives left me cold and unbelieving.

But at some point I tried.  And tried again.  And again.

Slowly a picture began to unfold.  Instead of asking myself what I wanted my whole life to look like, I began to ask myself what I would like just a small piece of it to look like:

  • What makes my life meaningful?
  • What do I want my family to be like?
  • What do I want my relationships with my friends and family to be like?
  • What kind of work and play do I enjoy?
  • How will I practice the ideals I value?
  • What do I want our home to look and feel like?
  • What kind of financial shape to I want to be in?

As I began to look at these smaller domains of my life, it became easier for me to describe an ideal of how I would like them to be.

But probably the most important thing I have learned about writing a vision is that it is an ongoing and never-ending process.  We change.  We grow and mature.  And as we do so will our visions.

So I review my vision nearly every day to remind myself of who I want to be and what I want my life to look like.  And if it dawns on me that the vision I’m reviewing no longer paints a picture of the life I want to live, then I revise it to paint one that does.

Your comments and questions are greatly appreciated!