Getting Out of the “If I Ruled the World” Mindset

word "if" repeated on blue background

At a recent conference, a fellow Ignatian educator and I were walking to the cafeteria for lunch, caught up in a passionate conversation about all our big, incredible, pie-in-the-sky educational ideas. We were on quite a roll. We were solving problems left and right and spelling out all the steps of our perfect plans. When we arrived at the lunch line, he turned to me and said as a way of capping off our conversation, “If I only ruled the world, right?” And then he added, “But I don’t, and thank God for that!”

His offhand remark left an impression in my mind. Ever since, whenever I find myself going off on an “I just know better” tangent, I eventually cut myself off by saying, “If I ruled the world…but I don’t, and thank God for that!”

I am by nature a passionate and creative person. When I get on a roll problem-solving, I can really get on a roll. I can go on and on about all the ideas in my head and inadvertently elevate myself to the ultimate problem-solver. In turn, when I get angry at some way of proceeding that someone has introduced that I don’t agree with, I can go on and on about how I would do it differently and how I would do it better.

Maybe my reaction is just a consequence of being human. Maybe it’s just a consequence of being this particular human. But it’s not really reflective of how I feel deep-down inside. The truth is, no matter how creative or passionate I am, no matter how angry or unsettled I get by something, I don’t really believe deep-down inside that I have all the answers.

I know that it’s sometimes the way I can come across, however. Perhaps it’s the way that many of us can come across when all we really want is to be a part of something worthy. Maybe it’s the way we all have the potential to come across when our desire to make a difference, to use our voice, and to be a part of something great can no longer be contained.

My friend’s perhaps quite random comment is now a permanent part of my inner monologue (and sometimes my outer one as well). I repeat it as a way to ground myself in who I am in the deepest parts of me. I repeat it to remind myself that, of course, I know there are good people already doing good and worthy work, and I am blessed every time I get to do good and worthy work alongside them.

And I repeat it to remind myself that there is always someone in charge—and it will never be me, and it will never be you.

If I ruled the world…

Well, I don’t. God does. And thank God for that!

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Gretchen Crowder
Gretchen Crowder has served as a campus minister and Ignatian educator for the Jesuit Dallas community for the last 15 years. She is also a freelance writer and speaker and is the host of Loved As You Are: An Ignatian Podcast. She has a B.S. in mathematics and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame as well as an M.T.S. from the University of Dallas. She resides in Dallas, TX, with her husband, three boys, and an ever-growing number of pets.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Gretchen. World-making is a beautiful project. We are privileged to be living in God’s Time. We can certainly contribute our bit during our brief journey on God’s Holy Ground.

  2. Yes this, almost Mantra is something I would like to take on board, especially, wgen frustrated by something, I think I could do better, faster, etc.
    I wiuld like to cease these critical thoughts.

  3. I like to solve the problems of my world, for sure! Today I solved a problem for my daughter who needed a new washing machine for her new house. That’s about the most important thing I’ve done for a while. When I think of the blessings I’ve been given by God I know who is in charge and, yes, I’m thankful. Today wasn’t about money. It was about providence. God’s speciality.

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