Mother Teresa’s Ingredients to a Better Story
If taking a shortcut to a better story never works, then what what does the long road look like?
Instead of telling you, I offer an example.
She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje on August 26, 1910. At the age of 18 she joined the Sisters of Loreto with the goal of being in India to help those in need.
At the age of 38 she started the Missionaries of Charity, taking a vow of poverty, and dedicating her life to serve the poor.
We know her as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
We know her as the little lady who ate with presidents and kings.
We know her Gallup’s most admired person of the 20th Century.
Yet she personally owned nothing. She wore the same clothes everyday, a white sari with blue trim. In nearly every picture of her, her face is worn with wrinkles.
We know her as Mother Teresa.
I obviously admire her story, and I hope you do too. But it is important to understand what is is about and how she wrote it.
What was her mission?
In her own words:
To care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.
Her mission influenced the choices she made. Her mission influenced what she defined as success. In fact, what we view as her successes wasn’t what she aimed for at all.
She felt she would be successful if she would be able to help only one person. That would be enough.
She did not desire notoriety. She did not desire influence. She did not desire accolades.
And of course, she helped many more than one.
1. Time to Mature. She did not start Missionaries of Charity until 20 years after becoming a nun. Twenty years to grow and learn. Twenty years to pray and trust. Every day of the 20 prepared her for her bigger story.
No matter who you are or your place in life, now is the time to work towards your better story.
2. Starting Small. When she began, it was only her. When she walked out of her convent, she only had 5 rupees and the clothes on her back. There was literally no one to help her. She describes walking long distances just to find food to eat and water to drink.
When you do begin, you will likely be alone. Begin anyways.
3. Understanding Success. She never made it her goal to become famous. She didn’t even necessarily set out to create an order with 1500 members. She wanted to help one. This defined success for her. If she could make a difference in one life.
4. Bigger than Ourselves. Mother Teresa never felt adequate to do the work she started. She never felt that she knew enough or had enough skills. She even questioned her commitment and passion. She began, always trusting God to work through her.
5. Love. The goal of the Missionary of Charities wasn’t necessarily to convert. It wasn’t to teach theological doctrine. It wasn’t to increase the numbers of the church. Her goal was to help. To care for those who had nothing themselves. To show the love of Jesus through acts of love.
6. Sacrifice. Mother Teresa did nothing for own sake, but was always seeking the good of others. This desire led her to sacrifice her own comfort and life.
We admire her work, but Mother Teresa was someone none of us would want to be. Her life is something none of us would want to choose for ourselves.
But the people that have been touched buy the story lived out by Mother Teresa, their souls will exist forever. And her acts of unmerited love will be remembered.
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