Note: More than just sharing my thoughts and providing a commentary on society, I will be writing more about what I’m doing in my own life. It’s not like I have a had a lot of success influencing others anyway. I’ll focus on impacting the one life I can impact most: my own. Maybe, it will make a significant enough difference in others as well.
It’s a very simple question we keep forgetting to ask deeply, despite the amount of times we’ve been reminded.
“Why am I living the way I’m living?” I asked myself recently.
“Why do I work the way I work?”
“Why do I act the way I act, eat the way I eat, sleep the way I sleep, pray the way I pray, worry the way I worry…”
I realized that many of my life’s “why’s” were not from my own deeply thoughtful decision making, but were somehow, almost unconsiously, adopted. I wanted to be successful. But I didn’t really know what successful meant – for me. If success is the achievement of one’s goals, and if my goals, the things I wanted to achieve were not really my own choosing, but the mere copying of society’s goals, then can I really call myself a success?
The answer, for me, was a very clear NO.
There’s no real greatness is achieving society’s unoriginal scores for man.
Greatness is found in having your own unique vision of the world, and relentlessly chasing that vision. The real greats aren’t the ones who score the most. They’re the ones who play for a greater score, and in the process change the game.
I recently wrote an article on the Bridge Blog, that the game should define the score. You don’t score golf the way you score basketball. In golf, the lower the score the better, which is very different from basketball. (You can read that article here: The Game Should Define the Score). In the same way, I’ve decided to pursue my own score. It’s important to have a score, a way of measuring the tangible impact of one’s life, but it’s also important to define for oneself what that score is going to be, and not simply taking on the default scores society puts on us (life fame, fortune, religious attendance, grades, etc.).
For me, the two scores I’m tracking is this: The Number of People Who Enjoy Level 1 Access and the Number of People Who Achieve Financial Escape Velocity. Level 1 Access is the most basic level we help the employees of our client companies achieve, which is a point where they are able to save consistently and partially secure themselves financially with accident insurance. From Level 1, we’re able to help workers towards Financial Escape Velocity – the point where financial laws work in our favor not against us. My team and I are busy definining what Financial Escape Velocity means for the diverse range of workers.
In my life, I’ve helped people get an education, have a home, get credit, and enjoy better careers, but these two scores for me are special. They are tangible metrics for weather I’m a success or failure. They are scores that go beyond one-time doleouts. They are scores, if achieved, truly frees people to live a life of Access. #DB
The main reason I haven’t been posting articles on my blog is because I haven’t been able to finish any in the past couple of months. I have so many unfinished ideas waiting to be fleshed-out, but probably never will be. This is a bad indicator for me since I view writing as a clear-headed exercise. When I am not able to complete posts, it’s usually because my mind is overcrowded.
And my mind has been overcrowded.
This is why I’ve made a conscious effort to embrace less, to do less, to respond less, to connect less, to read less, to react less, to spend less, to want less, to eat less, and be around less. There really is wisdom in Christ’s practice of leaving for solitary places to pray, or how artists and writers hide away in a cabin, or how…
… I can see my notifications going off on my phone like a meteor just hit planet Earth. Despite Do Not Disturb mode, despite that I’m supposed to be on vacation, despite my Pomodoro timer, today’s busyness is on constant attack.
It’s really throwing off my writing.
I guess, all I really want to say is:
1. Go offline more
2. Read a real, physical, paper in your hands, book
3. Have a face-to-face, no phones on the table, conversation
4. Spend time outdoors, in nature, sitting on grass
5. Take tactile notes, feel the grit of the paper
6. Learn to draw and paint, not just take photos
7. Learn to remember not just record
8. See the world with your eyes, not just with a lens
9. Sometimes, many times, to enrich the physical, we must exit the virtual
Before I continue, I would like to make a few things clear:
I say these because I want to remove any potential accusation that I don’t like listening to wisdom nor respect supernatural insight. I do like listening to wisdom, so much so that I like to make sure, as much as I can, that whatever it is I am listening to is actually wisdom. And I do get amazed by supernatural insight, or what seems like supernatural insight. It amazes me so much that I don’t take the words for granted and take the time to see how they sync up with the Bible.
This helps me from falling for the lazy response of just accepting what someone else says. It doesn’t matter who said what, it is beneficial to validate before accepting.
When it comes to Christian beliefs, the validation comes from one primary source: the Bible. No word of knowledge, no prophetic insight, no pastoral advice, nor papal edict can counter (or should counter) Biblical teaching. Given that Christians believe in the Bible being God’s Word, we should be very careful with statements that claim to be from God, but cannot be validated using the Bible. This is why I personally have never felt comfortable using the phrase, “Thus sayeth the Lord…” to start out what really is a personal opinion on scriptural matters. “This sayeth the Lord” claims divine authority. A simple, “Here’s how I see this” claims personal perspective. If I claim divine authority, I better make sure that my claim is backed-up by the Bible. I would never use, for example, the president’s authority for something I am not sure is really authorized by him, even more, I will be very careful to say, “These are God’s words” since God is way beyond a president and His words are to be treated with more reverence.
This is true for theological interpretations and ideas as well. Sometimes, I’ll give my opinion on something and find that I’ve offended some very religious people, who come back at me with concepts like Calvinism, Cessationism, Continuism, Dispensationalism, Arminianism,God’s Perfect Choice-ism, and Spiritual Authority-ism. Frankly, I’m not an expert on these “Christian-isms”, even though I’ve probably read on them more than most, an exercise I find to be more confusing than clarifying. Here’s what I found while studying church history: a bunch of highly fallible men and women (not too different from you and I) making their best interpretations of the Bible and the world using the available data of the time, with views being refined as data improves, and a common ironic result: a church split.
Here’s what you’ll find over and over:
A small group of people passionately cling to a message and a mission, that group grows into a formidable group, that group tries to institutionalize themselves, with their growth comes a slowing down and weakening (though the leaders won’t notice this because of the sheer size), they find their institutions under attack by new ideas, new methods, new interpretations, and new people, they try to defend themselves by entrenching themselves in their beliefs (particularly by putting up dogmatic institutions), these lead to hard stances on issues instead of consideration, which leads to division, and which in turn leads to splits, and, despite their efforts, they cease to become the force they once were, surrendering this to another group, which was once a small bunch of people as well.
If you want to know how Jesus and 12 disciples have become a confusing range of Christian denominations, study church history. You’ll probably find what I found.
This is why I like to cut through the confusion of interpretations and “isms” to a very simple concept: Love God with your body, soul, and spirit, and Love others as yourself. I don’t need to get distracted with the discussions about the “elect” and the “saved”. It is hard enough to be self-less, to be humble, and to be truly prayerful, why complicate it with debates on things that have never been nor will be settled by men?
Ultimately, God is looking at the fruit of my life not whether I took the right position on these religious debates.
And what is my life’s fruit made of? Is there love? Is there goodness? Is there faith? Is there kindness? Is there self control? Do the spiritual virtues exist in my life? Am I loving towards my neighbor? Do I actually help the poor or do I just pity them? Do I actually improve the lives of others or do I simply complain about how hard life is? Do the results of my life show Godliness?
With these in mind, and with a clear goal to show God our love with the fruit of our lives, I would like to share some simple points on receiving and giving insight and advice:
Who is wise then? Who should we listen to? Let us end this post with some practical tips on who to listen to:
Sometimes, when reading through old posts, I see things I said that make me cringe. Ideas I was so convinced were right then, but were actually either very specific for that context or not right at all. When I see these, I am at least comforted by the fact that my blog is littered with disclaimers, me blatantly saying these are own opinions. I’m not so worried about being wrong. I am wrong a lot. I am worried about a verse that has never stopped haunting me since I first read it:
“Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”
– Proverbs 30:6
In many ways we are seeing this around us. Many popular Christiani-sms falling away. Even in my own journey I’ve moved away from many of the interpretations taught to me, allowing my perspective to be refined, and becoming more in awe of God in the process. At the same time, I am more afraid of making flippant claims.
God’s Word is serious, and we need to be careful with how we treat it.
Here’s the good news, and it comes just one verse before the one I just shared:
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
– Proverbs 30:6
I love that verse. If you have pop-wisdom you will have easily-popped security. If you have the word of God, not needing to embellish it with popular perspectives, you will have a shield. I don’t know about you, with everything I face on a daily basis, I want a shield. #DB