Fr. Mike recalls the speed math tests he took in second and third grade. He finished them in decent time, but his cousin—who was in the same class—finished them way faster. In fact, his cousin was the fastest in his class. For some reason this led Fr. Mike to believe he simply wasn’t good at math.
When it came to “speak and spell” though, Fr. Mike did really well. This led him to believe he was really good with words. He was acting under the common belief that someone is either good at something or bad at something.
In Carol S. Dweck’s book, Mindset, she speaks of fixed mindsets—like Fr. Mike had— and growth mindsets, which challenge us to grow.
Fr. Mike shares the findings of a study that observed two groups of children. The first group was given tests and were told “You’re really smart” when they finished them. The second group was told “You really worked hard on that.” When the tests got harder, the first group started giving up, but the latter group doubled down and rose to the challenge.
God works with us as if we were in the second group. He sees us for who we are, but approaches us as we could be. Confession is our opportunity to try harder next time. We are called to the struggle, because struggle is growth. The victory is not in never failing, but in getting back up and rising to the challenge.
Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
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