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STEWARDSHIP | Starting with the end in mind

When planning a trip, baking a cake or starting an exercise routine, we usually visualize the end result and make proper preparations to achieve the desired result. Successful companies do this all the time. They plan, prepare, adjust and allocate resources to achieve their goal. If you want to be successful, one of the things you should do is start with the end in mind.

In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey lists starting with the end in mind as the second habit of highly effective people. Effective people envision the end result before they actually begin doing anything.

Maybe more of us should apply this concept to our relationship with the Holy Trinity.

In Genesis, we are told, “God created mankind in His image.” The first sentence of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “God freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life.” We were created by God to know and love Him. We know that we were created and we know why we were created, however, do we keep “the end in mind” — eternal life with God in heaven — as we live our lives and use the gifts that God has entrusted to each of us?

St. John the Baptist is depicted in many works of art with his finger pointing. Why? He is pointing to Jesus — the Lamb of God. In John’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist said “He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.” These words are a clear and concise daily reminder for us to start with the end in mind.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, reminds us to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Unfortunately, too many people set their sights too low, they don’t reach for heaven. And, unfortunately, too many people are focused inward on their own desires and not open to what God, the Creator, created each of us to do.

Advent — the season of preparation for the coming of Jesus and the season of transformation — can be a time to open our hearts to receive this wonderful gift of Jesus that God has sent us. It isn’t too late for any of us to start with the end in mind.

Starting with the end in mind doesn’t make things easier, but it does keep us focused on the end goal — heaven. God has given each of us a plan. Be open to what God may be calling you to do and invite others to share in God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.

Every decision we make either moves us closer to God or moves us farther away. Start with the end in mind and experience the joy and peace that God wants for each one of us here on earth and eternally with Him in heaven.

Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.

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