Motives

Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies

Chariots-Of-Fire

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”

I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.

I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.

I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:

Why do you do it?

I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.

In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.

Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]

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list 3Recently I was on the campus of a school where I teach as an adjunct professor. I was walking through the student center and saw this – a massive list of that university’s graduates for this year.

It was really gratifying to see the names of people I recognized.  To a random stranger these were just 470 some-odd names on a really big page. To me they were much more.

The List wasn’t able to capture the sleepless hours, the frustrations and insecurities, and the enormous energy invested.  And that’s just the professors! (Just kidding.)

It couldn’t detail the hours of work, the sacrifices and support of families, or the poignant life stories behind each of those names. Behind every name is a story worth telling and a future worth finding. (That, friends, is why they call it “commencement” when people graduate.)

My joy was in knowing I had planted some things in some of those students and they had nourished it to a point of fruitfulness.  And what was I doing when they were celebrating this big accomplishment?

Planting some more in a future crop of leaders. And grateful for the privilege.

There are lessons in The List. For you. For me… [click to continue…]

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Maybe it’s because I majored in history in college.  Maybe it’s because I’m an explorer at heart (not always a good thing).  Maybe it’s because I’m a typical man who hates to ask for directions, or maybe it’s because I often wind up in places I didn’t intend to go.  But regardless of the reason, one of the most common questions I ask myself is, “How’d I wind up here? 

That’s a pretty handy thing if you want to stay out of the bad neighborhoods, the dead ends, or the “I told you so’s” in the future.

But wouldn’t it be more helpful to have a bit of a roadmap ahead of time?  Maybe to get some directions that apply to whatever path I or you think we’re on? [click to continue…]

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