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Monday, January 30, 2012

Zeal as an Instrument

Today I attended a meeting whose purpose is to help smokers quit.  I am not a smoker myself, but my wife is.  There are six or seven women in the class.  At the conclusion of each class meeting, going around the table each participant states their goal for the following week. Today a participant made an important observation—she didn’t know why, but somehow she could not find the zeal (she stressed the word several times) within her to quit smoking cigarettes.  This I found to be a thought-provoking observation.  I began trying to come up with my own definition and observations regarding zeal.

I began to think of people characterized by positive zeal—in my view a very helpful attribute.  Zeal to me is quite different from being hyper—which is nervous, unfocused energy.  Zeal suggests focused energy, discipline, commitment, a purpose driven life and the energy and drive to carry it out.  When I think of examples of people who display zeal I think of Saint Paul, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King in the church; Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan in politics; Steve Jobs in business.  It is wrong to think one must be an extrovert to encompass zeal.  There can be a quiet commitment that nevertheless beelines to get things done.

Now I’m on a diet to lose significant weight.  I have been on diets before, but this time I feel zeal to accomplish my goal.  Honestly, I can’t say where the zeal comes from.  I’ve understood during many failed attempts to lose weight that it would be beneficial for my health.  In a sense, and I hope I’m not being overdramatic, this time I feel the Holy Spirit is guiding me—that it is God’s earnest desire that I succeed in my diet and that he is assisting me to do so.

Certainly some other factors help—imaging myself with less weight, a new eating ritual that is working, steady evidence of success, a doctor that provides encouragement and warnings.  Nevertheless, I feel it is something outside myself—something way beyond typical self-motivation and rah-rah pep talks that is different this time.  Beneficial zeal, I have finally come to believe, is divinely inspired and driven.

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