At the Museum of the Bible, we recently hosted a live town hall on Youth and Morality. What is missing from the continuous discussion surrounding youth and violence, suicide, disrespect of parenting, drug addiction etc., is a discussion about youth and moral striving. We were joined by a thought provoking panel that included Charlie Kirk, Shelby Emmett, Candace Owens and Shermichael Singleton. The general consensus following the debate was that our young adults felt the discussion was long overdue. They are more prepared than ever to discuss the importance of moral striving and continuous character building in America's youth.
I often wonder: what does it mean to live a life of purpose and meaning? As I reflect on the experiences that I have had in life, a few recurring themes seem to emerge. For me, living on purpose has meant creating a wealthy life. I am referring to all aspects of wealth, be it material wealth, enjoying and emoting good physical and mental health and striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
With the many options and paths one could possibly take, how does one stay on the path toward one's purpose? The way forward for me has involved constant introspection, observation and work. I'm not referring to working on my career or business, although that is certainly a part of it. I'm talking about the meta-work that one does even before showing up to the office on a daily basis. That work is the self-sacrifice, working toward strengthening character and avoiding the pitfalls of temptation and lust. It is the work of self-abnegation and prudence, the daily sacrifices made in service of a higher ideal.
This is the work that ultimately grants us the freedom and true fulfillment that we are seeking. Those things that seem attractive to us in the short term: sleeping in just another hour, giving into the temptation to over-consume food or to have gratuitous sex for immediate gratification do not provide long-term happiness.
No, true joy does not arise from the vulgar applause of adoring crowds or from the creature comforts of mediocrity. True joy arises from the fruits of years of labor that has been diligently and consistently applied. The deep joy of working toward a goal and seeing it come to fruition over time is what life can be all about.
This process of spiritual striving and consistent action toward goals -- while avoiding immediate, pleasure-seeking behaviors -- is the most advanced form of spiritual technology that I have found. It is far more powerful than the magic of compound interest as a builder of wealth because it aligns with the creative forces of the universe.
The most effective way to achieve long-term success in any endeavor, whether it be health, business or life in general is to align one's personal goals with the interests of the whole. Sex is a great case in point. Sex can be both pleasurable to the individual, and, if properly aligned with the purpose of procreation, can also serve the whole.
As human beings, we have been blessed with both the power of intelligence and the gift of choice. This has enabled us to create tools that give us dominion over the earth and other creatures. But if not used properly, they can also lead to our mutual destruction. We have seen this story repeat itself over and over again, from the Tower of Babel, to the mistaken assumption that prompts some to choose abortions over the sanctity of life.
The so-called sexual revolution was brought to us by the technology that enabled us to seemingly forestall the results of sex thorough birth control, or to erase the responsibility created by sex through the abomination of abortion. It supposedly freed women to seek professional careers and cheapened the transaction cost of casual relationships. It freed men to opt out of family formation while doing their own thing. So-called free love is never, in fact, free. The true cost of love and intimacy is commitment and faithfulness. These are enduring principles, unchanged by any artifice man can possibly engineer.
The truth is, no such bargain could ever be struck. In reality, pleasure-seeking behaviors, like sex outside of the bonds of marriage and abortion, work to thwart the creative process. These behaviors create the mentality that one should have sex without being spiritually, emotionally and economically prepared to manage the creative force that sex invites and often demands. Our success here on earth comes from using the creative power of God to manifest iterative creations with the gifts of intelligence and artistry. We tend to pollute this connection when we diverge from pursuing our God-given purpose.
Only when we align pleasure with purpose can we achieve true joy. Self-discipline and living in accord with the laws of God is the only path to freedom in this life and in the next. This is the most powerful spiritual technology known to man.