“You do not HAVE a soul… You ARE a soul… You HAVE a body.” – George MacDonald
According to world-renowned spiritual, business and life mentor Dr. Ravi Zacharias, this succinct statement is the constant seen in the human struggle and longing for spiritual fulfillment. Sit with this idea for a moment, then read on for an in-depth conversation with Dr. Zacharias on the importance of finding the answers to your own toil.
KellerINK Team: Spirituality is a key area of life many people have a fear of or knowledge gap in. How do you encourage engagement from varying demographics?
Dr. Zacharias: No matter how many physical or for that matter sensual hungers we pursue, we always seem to have something missing. The deepest yearning is spiritual – finding ultimate meaning in life, defining what morality really means, seeking communion with God and answers to the problem of pain. These are all spiritual quests. That is why we are incurably spiritual. We have to find answers for the soul.
As for demographics, there are two dimensions to consider. The first is cultural and the second pertains to one’s age. Culturally our heritage has a long reach and the fear of rejecting our heritage in spiritual pursuits is a real one. In communicating spiritual truths we have to be wise in how we present such truths. Our listening is conditioned by our cultural attachments and therefore should be sensitively presented. In our age groups, peer pressure, maturity levels and enticing seductions all come into play. That is why the most important question is not what we arrive upon spiritually, but whether what we have arrived upon is true, transcending my situation of culture and stage in life.
KellerINK: Mentors are essential to achieving extraordinary results in any area of life. Why is it important to have a spiritual mentor?
Dr. Zacharias: We are finding out more and more how important that role is. In one sense, we are all being “mentored” by someone – for good or ill. The task of mentoring is critical especially for the young and those starting out on a new journey. The mentor we admire is the mentor we will emulate. That is why the spiritual parameters must form the foundation. One’s values have to be soundly grounded, affirmed and not violated in the process of building your future plans.
KellerINK: So, how do you find the right spiritual mentor for you?
Dr. Zacharias: Time is the hammer, eternity is the anvil. The hammers will be cast away, the anvil will remain. In the end, attaining life’s purpose becomes the final victory. So find a mentor who has not just the present in mind but life’s ultimate purpose of essential worth in mind.
Knowledge, skills, character, attainments, wisdom and discipline all come into play here. It is not right to just look at the destination point of a mentor. It is vital to inquire how he or she navigated success and failure in order to bring real attainment. Kipling’s lines from his poem called “If” are profound.
“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.”
Those definitions of “triumph and disaster” are only such when you take a short view of things. They become “impostors” when you take a long view of things, and eternal perspectives can reposition them.
KellerINK: Who are some of your spiritual mentors?
Dr. Zacharias: My mentors have mainly been authors who taught me how to think. Since my life is in speaking and writing, that need was indispensable. G.K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, C.S. Lewis, F.W. Boreham and others. What I learned from them most was the importance of words. There are two characteristics of words that have the greatest importance – truth and beauty. Love that which is true, shun that which is false. Let truth be stated in beautiful terms and then both reason and imagination are in sync.
Mentoring is also done by parents and often unwittingly. Watching my mother taught me more than ever that people matter more than things. She cared for the neediest in our midst, and her generosity rescued many an abandoned person from their sense of isolation.
In short, living with integrity and charity become key characteristics to pursue. Hard work and discipline follow those characteristics.
KellerINK: Speaking of parenting and youth, if a young person you really cared about asked, “What’s the ONE Thing I can do for my spiritual life such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” what advice would you give them?
Dr. Zacharias: A famous quote by Augustine, I think, said “Love God and do anything you please…and if you really love God, what you please to do will be His will.”
As a Christian, I cannot give a better answer to this than the words of Jesus: to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
So here’s the challenge. Truth by definition is absolute. The supreme ethic is love. So live a life with knowing and loving God, and knowing there will be challenges to one’s faith, we must so love our fellow human being that our differences do not make us hateful, rather patient and respectful. In short, the key to life is in your relationships. The master key is to begin by having that relationship with God. That defines all other relationships.
Image Source: Trinity International University