by Janet McHenry
My cousin Merry told me recently that when she was in high school, she had to write about her life’s philosophy. Isn’t that hilarious? As a former high school educator, I honestly can’t recall too many students who could have articulated a life philosophy. Hers was “eat, drink, and be merry.” I think most high school students would have agreed with that.
What might others say? I’m speculating, based on personal observation of teenagers for many years, but I think additional ones might be fair:
- Work hard.
- Be kind.
- Enjoy life.
- Take what you can get.
- Figure it out as you go along.
- Just do your best.
By the way, that last one I got from Merry, too. When I was teaching, I’d say, “As Cousin Merry would say, ‘Just do your best.'”
As I watched Olympics recently, I wondered about the philosophy those young athletes must have for themselves.
- Work hard, then work even harder.
- Show sportsmanship, whether you win or lose.
- Learn something that will make you better each day.
- Make sacrifices so you get better.
- Do better today than yesterday’s best.
- Just do your best.
It’s been interesting following the story of Simone Biles, the young gymnast who faltered in her vault competition and then withdrew from most of her events. She knew herself. She knew her body. She knew a weakness had crept in that could harm her. And so she sacrificed years of hard work for her life’s sake. She did her best, given all the circumstances of her health and wellness.
There are all kinds of ways we can get wisdom and gain perspective about how to best live our lives. We can read and research and observe. And we can have experiences. Personally, while I try to learn from the latter–experiences–I’d much rather learn from the former. From Simone I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to kill myself to get ahead. I can cheer from the sidelines . . . and perhaps even my sideline cheers are what God might prefer for me.
And what’s my life philosophy?
Mine stems from a directive that Joshua gave the eastern tribes after they had helped their brother tribes settle in the promised land—supporting them in battle. When things settled down, Joshua told them to observe and keep God’s commands, to love Him, to walk in His ways, to cling to God, and to serve Him with all their heart and soul.
I believe God has ordered my days. I tend to run to God when life’s situations are hard. When circumstances settle down, it’s easy to become complacent. In those times, if I step out, motivated by selfish ambitions, or if I ignore what I already know God has ordained for me, I won’t be doing my best. I want to follow Him at all times of my life.
So, since 1970, my life philosophy has been “Love God and serve Him forever.” I’ve tried other ways. They don’t work out well. So I’ll do my best, given the circumstances, and trust Him for the results.
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5 ESV
About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling 50 Life Lessons for Grads. Formerly a high school English teacher, she still enjoys hanging out with young people when she serves as her school’s official basketball scorekeeper. Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.
Join the conversation: What’s your life philosophy?