Self-Accomplishment: Is It a Good Thing?

I’ve finished high school but have yet to be enrolled in college. In the meantime, however, there has still been plenty of stuff for me to do and in which to get involved, thanks especially to how our church works and to a number of extracurricular things that I’ve still wished to someday learn and/or to master.

“What can I do? What can I accomplish today?” Such has been a popular question in my mind. Of course, once that question gets answered at the end of the day, and if I did something meaningful and I did it well, then what reason would I have not to feel good about myself?

Likewise, I can get to feeling pretty bad about myself if I don’t do something by the end of a day that I know in my heart I could have gotten done that day.

It’s not wrong to understand that I can do more things than what a temptation to be lazy might suggest to my flesh. It’s also a good thing to know the falsehoods behind the praise of mediocrity in our culture, for example. In other words, it’s great to get an accurate idea of what my personal potential actually is.

But is that by itself a good breeder of character?

A few days ago, I was very excited because I would be out for half of the afternoon and most of the evening for two separate activities that had been carefully added to the family schedule right next to each other. The first was going to be a CLEP exam that I had been anticipating for weeks and the second was a special Christmas decorating party. I felt rather would-be-accomplished at the thought of doing both of those things in one day and in one outing. I assumed that everything would turn out fine. Me getting stuff done was the important thing, after all, and that’s what I fully intended to do.

Well,  I had forgotten to check twice about the nature of the CLEP exam that had been purchased. Not only was it longer than expected, but it was the wrong one altogether; the college to which I had asked the scores to be sent didn’t offer credit hours for it. Finally, I’d forgotten about rush hour. Therefore, in the end, my father and my sister and I arrived at the party rather late.

It wasn’t entirely my fault that we were late, but I contributed to the problem and regretted it. And this little episode of life, however short and silly for a story it might sound, actually got me thinking about the mindset that I’ve been having, that what matters more than anything else is that I’m doing something. But even though I meant to do some good things, they didn’t turn out well. And that was because I wasn’t really thinking about those things getting done. I was thinking about me. Had I cared, I would have been more careful about taking the correct test and helping Dad and my sister get to our next destination–(the special Christmas decorating party!)–on time.

People of character aren’t full of themselves. People who have real love for others certainly aren’t proud. I realized that for me to care about whomever I’m meant to serve in the future, my eyes oughtn’t be upon myself. And so it doesn’t matter how much I accomplish. What matters is for God and my fellow human beings to be loved. What matters is what needs to be done.


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