By Dr. Dondi Costin, CSU president // 1.7.19
“I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
This gut punch from missionary William Carey erects healthy guardrails for wise travelers on the winding road between infancy and eternity. Yet in my experience with air-breathers all over the planet, too many road warriors mistake activity for accomplishment and equate busy-ness with productivity in the business for which they have been created. On some days I am in that number. Maybe you are, too.
Thankfully, the secret to winning in this life and the next is really no secret at all. As a songwriter friend has written so well, the main thing in life is keeping the main thing the main thing. It’s saying yes to some opportunities and no to others. It’s keeping your priorities straight. It’s understanding the monumental difference between settling for success and striving for significance. It’s pushing by intention rather than being pulled by distraction. It’s moving with purpose because meandering through life is detrimental to meaning in life.
In short, it’s ditching the tyranny of the urgent so you can do the important instead. To play on my mother’s recurring pleas to mind my manners, the not-so-secret is choosing to live well by minding your matters—putting your mind to what matters most.
After trying every other pathway to purpose, Solomon’s parting shot in Ecclesiastes 12:13 broadsides the bullseye. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
The prophet Micah’s plaque-worthy quote echoes that theme: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Which is just an appetizer before the entrée Jesus serves: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).
Life on this side of the other side is short. Time flies. So why settle for the good life when you can live better? Why stop at better when God wants best?
Let’s face it. That last question is the heart of the matter.
They say you can do anything you put your mind to. Perhaps. But only if you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Why not put your mind to living for what really matters? Why not claim God’s calling and Christ’s character as your most valuable credentials?
Answering these questions is what a Charleston Southern education is about. Integrating faith in learning, leading and serving is much more than a cliché. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. It’s how we live. Because when all is said and done, how we live—and for whom we live—is all that matters. If you succeed at things that don’t really matter, you fail when it matters for real.
So make up your mind to do what matters. In a manner of speaking, mind your matters.
Don’t mind if I do. What about you?
Originally published in CSU Magazine, Fall 2018