Discipline #9: Sacrifice.
- Everything you’ve ever wanted flows through your ability to sacrifice.
- The word sacrifice means “to make sacred.“
- The greatest lives ever lived turned their lives into a living sacrifice.
- The question is not will you sacrifice, but what will you sacrifice your life for?
“Those destined for greatness must first walk alone in the desert.” – Winston Churchill
Those words flashed across my screen saver as I sat alone, staring at my laptop in a lonely cafe in the Sonoran desert.
It was 2003 and I just broke up with my girlfriend and got rid of over half my possessions. It was the start of a long journey that’s taken me back to that same desert. A few weeks ago I moved back to Arizona and did it again (got rid of over half my possessions, but there was no girlfriend to break up with).
I did it for largely the same reasons: I want to live deliberately, to push life into a corner, to see what it has to offer, to suck the marrow out of life, and not, when it comes time to die, to find out that I didn’t fully live… or perhaps better said, to make sure that I live out the purpose for which I was born.
What I’ve realized in the 18 years or so between my get-rid-of-most-of-my-stuff-and-move-to-the-desert adventures, is that we’re all sacrificing our lives for something.
What about you? If a reporter did a story on your life, what would the headline say you’ve sacrificed your life for? Is it your family? Your career? Or are those just nice words to use, but it’s really been something else?
You may recall, everybody worships.
Here’s how you might think about it:
Your life has a definite order to your priorities and greatest loves, whether you’re aware of them or not. You’ve sacrificed your life for these loves.
When I was in grade school, maximizing pleasure was undoubtedly at the top. The idea was to spend more time having fun with friends and “waste” less time studying or doing grown up things that I wasn’t interested in.
As an adult I sacrificed a lot of time worrying about things I couldn’t control. I set apart or “made sacred” time to imagine what I didn’t want and hoped wouldn’t happen.
The power is to sacrifice your life for things that empower you, of which the most power is, to become wholehearted… to become the type of person who is fully engaged, heart, mind and body… so when you’re squeezed (life gets hard, intense, or just scary), what comes out is a fearless love.
Perhaps it starts with recognizing that you were set apart before you were born. No one was given your skills, your heart, your mind, and your set of circumstances and connections. You were created for glory. Set apart. Made sacred. Don’t lose the tension (eustress – good stress) that’s meant to push you to go for the best possible life rather than living in constant self-protection mode.
In Citi Field (formerly Shea Stadium), there’s a big sign in the concourse that reads “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
If I’m honest, I’d say most of my life has been spent trying to make my own life better. My prayers have been to make my life easier (more success, less adversity, more fun, less pain). Most of my life has been self-serving, which has in turn created more worry and stress.
How you can practice this discipline:
1. Practice reducing your needs in small ways. You can fast (go without food), take cold showers or get up an hour or two earlier (and go to bed earlier). Those three options are ways to affirm that you’re not a slave to food, comfort, or sleep.
2. Remember that you were set apart for greatness before you were born. No one can bring to the world what you can. Not one other person.
3. Find ways to serve others, ideally in secret. Serving in secret frees you from concern about what others think about you.
You cannot live an extraordinary life without sacrifice. The truth is, you’re already sacrificing your life for something. The question is, is it worth it? Have all your sacrifices led to you becoming more and more wholehearted (and thus fearless)?
Let me know!