Love More, Work Less
September 15, 2021
By Liz Kelly
Your Heart, His Home
This year, I’ve been spending some time each day with St. Maximilian Kolbe. Before his martyrdom at Auschwitz – he volunteered to take the place of another in the starvation bunker – he was spiritual father to many.
He spent his life making his mother, “Mamuzia,” as he would refer to the Blessed Mother (that’s Polish for “Mom”) better known and loved. “To the Sacred Heart through the Immaculata,” he would say. I pray his consecration to the Immaculata every day, which begs that we be made fit instruments to draw others to the Sacred Heart.
His letters to his spiritual sons are especially moving and packed with wisdom. One of my favorite Maximilian morsels is this: “Think more about loving than about working.”
What does that phrase call to mind?
When I was living in Nashville in my late 20s and working as a singer, I attended a very large, very “hip” Nashville church where a number of famous musicians attended. At one point I was awarded a solo in the church choir. I had worked very hard to prove myself to the choirmaster who was, by any measure, world class. The song was especially well-suited to my low voice and centered on loving Jesus with heart, mind and soul (emphasis on soul). So, landing this little solo was a big deal to me.
I’ll never forget the first time singing it. It was the 9 a.m. Sunday service. As the song began, the great, languid cadence of a southern Gospel tune, I stepped up to the microphone and out came the first soulful phrase: “Jeeeee-sus! I love you.” In a flash, the choir director gave me this look; something like “uh-oh” spilled over his face. He could tell, even in a few notes, that I had been taken up with “performance.” I wanted to be impressive, and ironically, it was going to ruin the song.
He stepped up to me quickly and whispered in my ear, “No, sing it for the Lord.” In an instant I knew exactly what he meant and where I had gone wrong. It would have been the same thing if St. Maximilian had whispered to me, “Don’t think about impressing people, think about loving Jesus.”
My entire posture changed in that moment; something ugly and taut and trying too hard fell away. I was completely reoriented, and it showed in my voice. I could tell that the director sensed it too, because he beamed at me once that shift had taken place.
When I pray with this phrase now – “Think more about loving than about working” – and recall this moment on stage in church (and maybe there shouldn’t be stages in churches, only altars!), I beg for the grace to be more present and more loving in my work, more mindful of loving the Lord through the work he has given me in building up the Kingdom.
What’s the first thing you would change if you concentrated not on working, but on loving? And not loving prestige or money or adulation or success, but Jesus and those he places in your path?
Mamuzia, you inspired St. Maximilian from the time he was a child to love and serve the Lord in joy, even unto martyrdom. Pray for us, that we might learn what it means to love Jesus and others through our work, that we would concentrate on, not success or failure, but the sacredness of the souls around us. St. Maximilian, intercede for us, that we might know your selfless courage and great love of the Blessed Mother and the Sacred Heart of her Son, and live lives that make them better known and loved.
Liz Kelly is the award-winning author of 9 books including “Love Like a Saint” and “Jesus Approaches.” She speaks and leads retreats throughout the country. Visit her website at LizK.org.