An encounter with an angry man – an observation

July 6, 2023

A few weeks ago I was making a quick run to the grocery store. As I pulled into the lot, I noticed a man walking off to my right turn, face me and gesture something that was full of contempt and rage. I wasn’t going too fast. I think I was just in his way. He apparently had something to get to and I was an impediment to it. I felt hated.

I don’t know this guy’s story. Maybe he was suffering in some way. Maybe he was under a lot of pressure. Maybe he was just having a bad day. But clearly this man was on a mission to get something, and no one was going to slow him down without incurring his wrath.

I think he is a sad illustration of our human inclination. “I want what I want, when I want it, how I want it and I want it now.”  It is an ego driven existence. It is hyper-individualistic. It is a life lived solely for personal acquisition. Getting. Having. Possessing. Attaining. Achieving. “I am the most important human being…you are not.”

Maybe I’m over sensationalizing a random parking lot encounter, but let’s be honest, isn’t acquisition the prime mission we all have been conditioned to pursue? Get success. Get wealth. Get a career.  Get influence. Get your identity. Get the American Dream. Could this one of the reasons why we’re always so angry or anxious or depressed? A life dominated by acquisition is bound to get derailed by failure, pain or some idiot driving in a parking lot. When something steps between us and what we want.…hoo boy…here comes the rage, middle fingers or even guns. This is a terrible way to live…always aggrieved, bitter, entitled, and demanding.

There is another way of doing life.

Instead of acquisition, life can be framed by a drive for contribution. David Brooks, in his book The Second Mountain, describes this shift as one in which you “shed the ego and lose the self”. Richard Rohr calls this the “further and fantastic journey”. A life of contribution is one in which you leverage all the wonderful uniqueness of you, i.e. your life story, personality, skills and passions and become a force of nature. A human being bent on contribution rather than acquisition always has one eye out for the other. My son, Barry, pastor of our church, Grace Church, frequently refers to this as a life of “self-giving love”.

Imagine if the majority of us determined to live a life of contribution instead of acquisition. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, in a culture of “me”?

What do you want to be known as…an acquirer or a contributor? What do you want to be known for…what you got out of life or what you gave for the life of others?

I can help you move from a life of purely acquisition to one of serious contribution. I’ll sit with you and help you examine your life, in depth. We’ll mine the clues from your early life…the hints that you were made for more. We’ll probe what breaks your heart as you look at humanity. And we’ll analyze your personality to see where you can make the biggest difference.

We need for you to find your unique contribution. I’ll be your guide.

May this summer be a joyful one for you, not because all your dreams came true but because you made a tangible contribution to human beings who needed you.

Update on my availability for coaching this summer:

I have just two slots open now through August and a few more beginning in September. Connect with me here to secure a space. I’m here when you’re ready for substantive change in your life.


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