Last night was a night of weird dreams, and for some reason I was on the Johnny Carson show playing the role of Carnac the Magnificent. I had the routine down perfect: I held a sealed envelope to my head, and I gave the answer to the question inside.
I said: The answer is, we would be in a world of trouble.
Johnny took the envelope from me, opened it up, and read the question: What would the world be if everyone were to be just like Johnny?
When I woke up this morning, I thought about the dream and asked myself the question: What would the world be if everyone were to be just like me?
As I wondered about my answer, I remembered the words of Albert Schweitzer: The full measure of a man is not to be found in the man himself, but in the colors and textures that come alive in others because of him.
As I reflect on the dream and on the words of Schweitzer, I think the common link is influence: How do I influence the world as a whole and the lives of others as individuals? When people examine my life, what do they see?
- Is it a person of pale green who is full of envy or one who admires the accomplishments of others?
- Do they see the drab darkness of hate or the bright hues of love and light?
- Do I weave the thread of encouragement into conversations so I can motivate others to believe and achieve? Helen Keller said: Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement…no pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
- Am I a good role model and an example in my speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (I Timothy 4:12)?
- Do I see obstacles as opportunities or do I wither under the weight of what might be?
- Do I live the exemplary life of Paul, who said: Join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Philippians 3:17).
All of this brings me back to my question: What would the world be if everyone were to be just like me?
Success is determined through a process of standards and measurements. In the world of sports, speed and strength are two important measurements. At the NFL combine, athletes go through a rigorous examination of their physical skills and abilities based on the criteria below:
- 40 SPEED: 40-yard dash time.
- 3-CONE: 3-cone drill time.
- SHUTTLE: 20-yard shuttle time.
- VERTICAL: Vertical jump – measured by the differential between a player’s reach and the marked flag.
- BROAD: Broad jump distance.
- BENCH: Bench press – measured by the number of times a player bench presses 225pds.
A sports analogy was on Paul’s mind when he wrote of athletes who disciplined their bodies in preparation for the Isthmian Games. Paul said, “Everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away (I Corinthians 9:25).”
Like the athletes of today, the aspiring athletes of Corinth lived a disciplined life in preparation for the sporting events. They realized that the exemplary life of an athlete is the result of an examined life.
Standards and measurements should be as important to the Christian as they are to the athlete. Paul said:
Examine yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it (2 Corinthians 13:35).”
The unexamined life is a nefarious life, and it can make for precarious habits. Benjamin Franklin eschewed sloppy living, so he measured his life by asking himself two questions each day:
- The Morning Question: What Good shall I do this Day?
- The Evening Question: What Good have I done today?
Franklin believed these two questions are the key to an examined life that is as efficient as it is beneficent. I encourage you to use these questions to measure your life through the remainder of this year.