By Matt McDonald
Am I the only person who thinks that dying for someone you love would be easy? Perhaps it’s my hero driven mentality, my love of characters like Batman, but if my brother was about to be hit by a car I would have no issue with jumping in front of it for him. If an active shooter came into the school where I work, I could easily see any one of the teachers that I work with doing everything in their power to save their students, even sacrificing their own life. While I would never want to be put in the situation, it seems instinct to save another.
So if it is instinct to sacrifice my life for another, why is it so difficult for me to sacrifice my wants, desires and pride?
My family and friends tell me that a giving heart is just a part of me. I’m the one sacrificing, volunteering or donating my last dollar. While that may be the case, if I’m honest with myself, is it always about the other person or is it about me?
In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, author Dale Carnegie states that the inspiration of all good deeds is the feeling it gives the person doing the deed. While I don’t agree with this completely, if I was truly honest, am I doing things because I like the feeling of doing good or am I doing it for the other person? If I give my last dollar to the homeless man on the corner, but I post it on Facebook, what’s the true purpose behind it?
There seems to be a fine line between inspiring others and boasting about what I have done.
I believe our world is surrounded by daily opportunities where we can make it about us if we allow it.
My friend Tom is a great conversationalist. You feel at ease talking to him, and walk away feeling you had a real connection. He was asked once what his secret was. His response was simple and one that I take with me in both my personal and professional life. He responded that he asks questions. When I meet someone new, I search my brain to find the best thing to say to impress the other person, whether that be a job promotion or that I’m taking up running. Instead of this, Tom asks the other person about their life. “What do you do for a living?”, “What are your kids up to these days?”
After asking the person a question, he chooses to listen.
He puts his life on pause and engages the other person about their own life. By doing this, Tom is not only liked, but fulfilled. Such a simple gesture in theory, but yet so difficult. In doing this, I start out good with a “how have your been?” but instantly fail by following up with… “Oh really? That’s good, you wouldn’t believe what’s been going on with me…” A far more embarrassing result might be when a friend asks me “So what do you think I should do?” after explaining to me a struggle he or she has been going through. I’m forced to simply reply “I’m not sure” because the reality is, while they have been talking, I’ve been thinking about what is on my to do list or what I’m having for dinner.
When I go into a situation thinking how I can make this other person better by my words, listening ear or actions, and not how can I make myself look good, my own life becomes more fruitful. I learn more about the other person.
I become closer, I serve, I live the life God calls me to live.
Bruce Wane never needed credit. He did his good deed as Batman, at night, where few knew what he did. No one who talked to Batman ever knew anything about him, only that he was there to help. If I’m going to be a hero, maybe Batman is who I need to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt is currently the Director of Finance and Operations at St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Berea, Ohio while attending Notre Dame College of Ohio for Business Administration. Throughout this time, he’s enjoyed volunteering in various high school youth ministry programs. His loves are coffee, craft beer, reading when time allows, and spending time with family and friends. His time with teens and love of art have taught him the need to look at people and things in life from another angle than what is first seen.