Do we approach advocacy for and outreach to others like a mission in which our sole purpose is to convert them to our beliefs and priorities? Or do we approach our work on behalf of the common good with a sincere desire to follow the example of our spiritual teachers’ humility and love for neighbors in a life of caring, selfless service? Whether we intend to focus on humanitarian aid, community activism, or simply fulfilling our civic duty, examining our intention for our actions helps determine whether or not we elevate beauty, harmony, and justice in the lives of those around us.

In Divine Therapy & Addiction, Father Thomas Keating, founder of the Centering Prayer Movement, points out that even with religious practices we can have “mixed motivation.” Before you take on your next advocacy and outreach efforts, reflect on your real motivation, the deeper intention behind your actions, words, and thoughts. Make your reflections a necessary part of your answering the call you hear for healing, transformation, and service. Make sure to repeat this reflection periodically, so that you are aware of any changes to your motivation and any adjustments you’d like to make. You might also offer a prayer along these lines, “O Beloved God, powerful over all things, please direct me toward what You like and approve of in my words, actions, deeds, intentions, and courses of action.”

Habib Todd Boerger, Father Thomas Keating in Practicing Democracy through Advocacy and Outreach by Habib Todd Boerger