A friend from church gave me a tape several years ago by Fr. Larry Richards, a Catholic priest and evangelist, who does a broad series of talks on faith topics. In one about our "life’s purpose," he discussed the need for a spirit of sacrifice. In doing so, he talked about a poster in his office which said, “Every time I think I’ve sacrificed everything, God asks me for something I’m not willing to give up.”

Amid all the concerns vying to command our attention, this question is a constant reminder to embrace a sense of detachment from the falsely "important." And at a time when I was challenging myself on what WAS important, this statement had a dramatic impact. It was a big part of reorienting my life's goals and core purpose away from monetary concerns to spiritual and sacrificial ones, which have much more permanency. I've adapted the question for use in presentations, asking, “At the end of your life, what will you look back on from your life that will cause you to smile?”

Contemplating these questions is so appropriate this time of year when it’s easy to become enchanted with things that will be long forgotten when our time here is over.

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. - Mike Brown