Catholic motivational speaker Stephen Tony suggests our modern culture can draw people away from their faith and their relationship with Jesus.
“What are things that keep you from having a closer relationship with Christ?”
Tony recently spoke with young adults as part of a Theology on Tap program in Schererville. He points to four “P”s that can block people from having a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Our culture encourages us to compare ourselves to others and what others have. Tony likens this lifestyle of wanting to “treadmill” living. We’re never satisfied; we’re always chasing the next big thing. Tony suggests an intentional focus on gratitude can get us off the treadmill.
“Be grateful for what you already have,” he said. “Appreciate this life (that) God has given,” he said.
It’s not that we won’t still work hard, but we’ll stop comparing. It’s a shift in thinking. His practical advice is to start a gratitude journal. Write a daily list of what you are grateful for. Journaling in this way helps develop a spirit of gratitude and deters the temptation to look for the next big thing.
Technology is powerful, but it can prevent us from engaging with others and with God.
With the multitude of resources available in today’s society, it is easy
to feel like we have everything we need. We pop on our smartphones to socialize, work, research, you name it. Do we need anything else, or can we do it all by ourselves? Where does God fit?
A practical way to surrender to the will of God is do small things that help you let go of your need to be in control. Maybe put your phone away, or limit how often you check messages. Think about how God might be trying to work in your life. Step back and honor that God should have a place in our life. Consider how God worked in the lives of saints, many of whom changed course when God stepped in. We can learn much from Mary’s surrender and ask for her help in drawing closer to her son.
Social media has exploded people’s craving to be popular. Opinions of others have become far more important than what God might have to say about our witty posts. When we seek affirmation from people, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We’re looking in the wrong place for worth.
Using social media to try to be bigger or more than who we are is unnecessary. Tony encourages us to reflect on the crucifix. God loves us exactly as we are. He loves us so much he died for us.
Do we do the right thing or seek only to do things that are comfortable? Sometimes doing the right thing is hard, even unpleasant. If a person only seeks fun, comfort and ease, they may avoid things that are essential to what God wants us to learn.
According to Tony, what we do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. “It helps us pursue what God wants us to do, even when it’s hard,” Tony said.
Seeing yourself as God’s creation will help you further accept that we were created with a purpose. Begin your day with an openness to this purpose. Tony suggests the “heroic minute,” described by St. Josemaria Escriva. “Within a minute of your alarm going off, you are out of bed and on your knees in prayer,” Tony said. “It’s not easy. It’s hard, but it’s the first decision you make in the day.” To stay tuned into God, he encourages us to turn off car tunes, and, instead, use the quiet to listen, pray and reflect.
Visit stephentonytalks.com for more talks by Tony.
By Vanessa Negrete
Illustration by Getty Images/Iknuitsin Studio