My Facebook feed alerted me to the fact that one year ago my wife and I were in attendance when David Brooks, noted New York Times columnist, best-selling author and television pundit, preached at the National Cathedral in Washington.
I knew from his writing that Brooks was a Christian who often writes about the clash of culture and Christianity, but more often writes about the people he meets who embody Christ-like virtues.
We drove to D.C. to hear Brooks speak and his message had a profound impact on me. Brooks' New York Times bestseller, "The Road to Character," published in 2015 was the basis of his sermon.
The gist of his sermon and his book is that most people live their lives pursuing what he calls “resume virtues” but ignore the “eulogy virtues.” The resume virtues are taught in school and exhorted by parents. Not so much with the eulogy virtues.
Brooks described the two sets of virtues as being embodied by the two different sides of our natures. He calls them Adam 1, who represents our worldly, ambitious external side who wants to build, create and innovate while Adam 2 represents the humble side of our nature who wants to do and be good, and to live in a way that honors God.
Brooks summed up the two like this, “Adam 1 wants to conquer the world while Adam 2 wants to hear a calling. Adam 1 savors accomplishment and asks how things work, while Adam 2 savors inner consistency, strength, and asks why we are here.”
“I find I am drawn to people with an inner glow,” said Brooks. In a moment of crisis about three years ago, which Brooks did not detail, he said he sat on a bench under a tree on the National Cathedral grounds and “prayed the first honest prayer” of his life.
That was the point where he determined to pursue the Adam 2 virtues. He admitted the greatest difficulty for him is being emotional and real with people because he is a “naturally shallow or superficial person.”
He summed up Adam 1 as having a motto of “success” while Adam 2’s motto is “love, redemption and return.” He further characterized them as follows, “Adam 1 is built by building on your strength. Adam 2 is built by fighting your weaknesses.”
Brooks’ message was that “you have to go into yourself and find the sin you have committed over and over again through your life, your signature sin out of which the others emerge, and you fight that sin and you wrestle with that sin, and out of that wrestling, that suffering, a depth of character is constructed. We are not taught in this culture how to wrestle or confront it and how to combat it.”
Brooks concluded that “we must be saved by faith … and saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
How one reacts to Brooks’ message is unique and personal. But for me it forced a recognition that I give very little thought, time or effort to the Adam 2 virtues while I entertain the Adam 1 virtues at least 40 hours a week.
I did not make a New Year's resolution I could keep, but I recognized I have to find a more sustainable balance in my pursuit.
Having a job, a career, dictates a certain amount of time invested in the pursuit of Adam 1. Adam 2 is an altogether different story requiring an unearthly commitment and dedication.
Difficult; yes, but possible with faith and a commitment to daily answering this question: What have you done today for Adam 2?