No one is perfect and we all must strive to better ourselves. It is through self-improvement that we become stronger families, stronger communities and, eventually, a stronger nation.
So where should you start?
It’s important to first realize we are God’s creations and part of being a believer is living a life as close to the Church’s morals as possible.
When people think of Catholics, they should be thinking of loving people who reflect the same respect, love, kindness and wisdom revealed in the Bible.
We aren’t perfect and we make mistakes but therein lies the importance of setting goals and spending a lifetime in an attempt to meet them.
The great thing about these goals are you can meet them and, as you mature, set and meet them again on deeper levels.
Please consider our top ten goals every Catholic should set for themselves:
1. Build a strong foundation
The Bible tells us to share our faith – but how can we share what we don’t know?
It’s important to understand what being Catholic is all about. What role does the Church play? What role do the Holy Trinity, saints, angels and Pope play?
Take time to delve deep and learn about the faith, then share the truth with friends, family and even complete strangers!
2. Be humble
You will never know everything written in the Bible, nor will you ever fully grasp the greatness of God.
This is nothing to be ashamed of – we are imperfect beings incapable of understanding, without a doubt, everything the Bible says.
Strive to remain humble. Offering accurate information is very different from parading around expecting everyone wants to be corrected.
Even if you are knowledgeable about some things, there are many others you don’t fully understand. Don’t let a little bit of knowledge get to your head!
This can be spread across several aspects of your life. Attempting to remain humble is a difficult struggle for most people so don’t feel ashamed when you catch yourself prancing in pride. Just ask God for a new perspective and try to see your accomplishments for what they really are: A culmination of hard work on your part, knowledge learned from your boss, teacher or family member, and God’s grace.
3. God is #1
No matter how hard or great life can get, we must never forget God is the Most High and He deserves our respect.
Thank God for the good days and pray for peace on the bad. Know that He is always here for us. When you get a job promotion, God was there. When you cried alone, God was there.
Through every circumstance, the Lord is present to help us work through it or be praised for his blessings.
He should remain the most important thing in our lives, so spent a moment each day to ask Him to fill your heart with longing for His warm embrace, peace, love, mercy, forgiveness and blessings.
4. Meet the dress code
It’s important for us to dress in the armor of God each day.
Like ancient knights, we must protect ourselves with the armor described in Ephesians 6:11, 14-18.
The passages read: “Put on the full armour of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics…So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One.
“And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God. In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God’s holy people.”
This armor will help protect you from the enemies’ lies and the curses of the world. Mentally and spiritually don the armor each day and know you are loved and protected as one of God’s beloved children.
5. Grow in faith
Faith is limitless.
We can always encourage our faith and the faith of those around us.
The Bible tells us to have faith. In fact, when Jesus raised Lazarus, he told St. Martha, “Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
God still produces miracles today – and it is through faith that we will witness them, just as St. Martha witnessed her brother being raised from the dead.
6. Learn key scriptures
Memorize a handful of verses from the Bible to help you when you encounter difficulties in your day-to-day life.
Knowing these verses by heart will help you remember what God’s promises are during times of distress, joy, grief and anger.
Doing so also provides an opportunity to share the Word of God with friends, family, the faithful and unbelievers alike.
7. Stop judging and gossipping
The bottom line is simple: Only God has the power to judge us.
St. Mother Teresa left us with a wonderful quote on judgement, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
What has God called us to do? Love one another.
Pope Francis has told us again and again to learn to love and the biggest part of learning to do so is to stop judging what others do, stop talking about people behind their backs and to live life for ourselves.
How can we live a life of our own if we are too busy talking about the lives of others?
8. Learn to trust in the Lord
We often turn to the Lord in times of desperation.
The trick is to turn to Him always.
Before stress can take command of your body, ask God for peace. Refer to a Bible verse on peace, God’s promises or a favorite parable.
Turning to the Lord first, rather than as a last resort, will change your life for the better. Trust in Him and you will see a change within yourself only He can bring.
9. Lead by example
Too few people understand there are eyes everywhere.
Whether those eyes belong to our friends, neighbors, family or children, they are always watching.
To be good Christians, it is our duty to live, to the best of our ability, in accordance to the Gospel. What good is teaching our children not to misbehave when we turn around and gossip all day on the phone?
Why bother to talk about respect to our spouses when we turn around and disrespect the people who irk us?
We need to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. When we hurt someone we need to take a look at why – then we need to correct the situation and our behavior.
This is difficult, particularly since it is easy to judge others but not so easy to find flaws in ourselves. It’s time to stop offering excuses and take responsibility for our words and actions.
10. Learn to serve
Part of holding ourselves accountable is acknowledging the need to remain humble.
Humility helps us rearrange our priorities and frees time for us to help others.
Serving others is a crucial part of loving them. Look to St. Teresa of Calcutta as a prime example.
She was an amazing woman who served the community. She touched the lives of billions and her beautiful spirit will be remembered forever.
We may not be as dedicated as Mother Teresa but we can still serve. We can volunteer at soup kitchens, church fundraising events, donate gently used clothing, host a Bible study or even make an extra effort around the house.
All are wonderful ways to serve others.
By Kenya Sinclair