I’ve shut the door on many a Jehovah’s witness so it may seem odd to say that I admire them. But I believe that devout people of faith can teach us a few things about living a passionate committed life.
Here are six:
1. Choose your context
They, like ambitious people in business and politics, operate from a powerful context.
God provides the context for their life, and because they never lose sight of this context it doesn’t matter what befalls them: disease, earthquake, heartbreak, loss of job, they never lose heart. In fact, when bad things happen their context energizes them.
God gets them up in the morning, walks with them all day and lays them down to sleep at night. Their context keeps them passionate about and connected to what they do every day.
Got to admire that.
Your context is your big picture that gives the reason you get up every morning, the reason you go to work, the reason you do what you do.
Religion provides a ready-made context for many people that they can just accept and follow. But if religion doesn’t work for you, you’ll have to find something else that will.
For many people their kids provide the context for them to put up with bad bosses and terrible jobs.
The good news is that you can invent your own context; the bad news is that a big picture context, one that will serve to drive your life —like your personal ambition— will take effort and time to develop.
2. Read your field
Like a doctor who constantly is reading about the latest research and techniques, the faithful are constantly reading the bible and what members of their faith have to say about it.
How does the average person score here? Not well. Most people spend their time consuming entertaining distractions instead of practicing their ambition.
3. Go to seminars
Church functions (among other things) like a mini-seminar where the faithful are educated by their priest (teacher), who reinforces their faith (context) by giving them the ‘correct’ interpretations about life and how they should behave; who helps them to confess and forgive (set the past behind) so that they can focus on their future salvation (their ultimate purpose).
It’s a massively powerful practice that works to fulfil their dreams and hopes.
How often do you go to seminars?
Once you have a context (like a personal ambition) you must have a practice to remember it and keep it always with you.
A regular practice of prayer works and the good news is that you don’t have to be religious to practice prayer. All that’s required is a belief in your connection to something greater than yourself.
Journalling and reading your personal mission statement every day are also good alternatives that might work for you.
5. Nurture supportive relationships
The faithful nurture supportive relationships and shun destructive ones.
They associate with others of faith. They meet them at church, hang out with them socially, and they’re constantly on the lookout for expanding their networks by converting non-believers to their faith.
They avoid people who engage in conversations and habits that are destructive to their beliefs.
Many people associate with people who do not share a context greater than the upcoming weekend, or disenchantment with something e.g. a colleague, boss, government or life itself.
Do you practice nurturing supportive relationships?
6. Be out there selling
You’ve seen them: they go from door to door peddling salvation and they’re OK with doors being slammed in their face because they know that if they ‘save’ even one poor bastard then all of the rejections are worth it.
This is the practical side of fulfilling an ambition.
Dreams can’t come true unless you’re out there selling it. People can’t help you fulfil your dreams unless they know about it, and buy into it at some level. Even if they themselves don’t sign on, knowing your dream and and what you need to fulfil it will enable them to help you get what you need. They may know someone who can help you.
The Jehovah witnesses don’t take my continued rejections personally because they are connected to their big picture. You may not buy what they’re selling but you know what it is.