HOW DO YOU SURVIVE WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH?
All the economic indicators are that things are likely to get much worse before they get better.
Economist and author E.F. Schumacher said just before his death ”It is my personal belief that industrial society unless radically reformed, must come to a bad end.” He went on to say, “This will happen because the modern industrial system denies the place of the human spirit.”
As never before we need people with the moral energy who like salmon, make the effort to swim upstream to give life to the next generation. We have too many people without a spiritual backbone who are like jelly fish that simply float with the tide. If you would like to be among those who create the future, read on. It’s time to face yourself, gather some friends and start a revolution.
“Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight. When we do the best we can we never know what miracle is wrought in our own life or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller
The surest way to test commitment to the ‘shared objective’ (see last week’s blog) is for tough times to come. If you’re inspired enough to want to do a thing badly enough you will find a way; if you don’t really want to do it you will find an excuse. The more deeply we are committed to our ‘objective,’ not just to our ego comfort, the more resilient we will be when the challenges come.
If commitment is to be sustained four orientations need to be held in tension: This is what I call, the narrative, mentoring, networking, and values based culture in the network. What do we mean by these words?
Narrative: We all have a story woven into the very fabric of the unique spirit God has given us. This is why we need an inspiring objective; we need a big story that our spirit can respond to, that takes us beyond our limitations. A good and inspiring objective will to do this if we can stay the course.
Karl Jaspers said “What we become we’ve become by the cause we’ve made our own.”
Our own story only becomes actualised in the context of a ‘big story,’ one that has an eternal dimension. However working against this God given narrative are our own lower inclinations and deficiencies. We therefore need a mentor to keep us anchored and to remind us who we really are and what we’re really for.
Mentoring: As Helen Keller said, “We are incompleted people with unfinished business in our souls.” This is why we need help from mature people who love our spirit and know our weaknesses, and who can sing our song back to us when we have lost our inner harmony. We need spiritually integrated company to remind us of what really matters, and the nature of our contribution to the enterprise.
Networks: We all need a ‘we,’ on the journey to becoming a ‘me.’ In other words we need a community that shares the same purpose and eternal vision. This builds the kind of trust that facilitates valid communication. Valid communication enables members of the network to hear each other deeply and be heard for what they mean to say. It minimises painful and divisive misunderstanding. Valid communication is the glue that holds the network together.
A values based culture: Since the visionary community is made up of people with frailties all of whom are on the journey to completion, there is a need for deeply integrated values. These tie the members together like the rope that mountain climbers use.
The group will inevitably go through four phases as it attempts to work toward its vision; enchantment, disenchantment, reality, productivity. Sadly most groups don’t make it past disenchantment. They become disillusioned because they had illusions attached to their egos they had to be ‘dissed’ of (get rid of). No Christian worker is worth their salt and ready to change the world unless they have been through a severe enough phase of disenchantment to make them want to change themselves. Martin Luther said, ”Were it not for tribulation I should not understand scripture.”
The necessary values that should tie the network together:
Values get shaped as we confront challenges. Along with the need to listen deeply that comes along with valid communication, are the values of generosity and hospitality, and the fundamental values of justice, mercy and compassion. These should be so integrated that they are not only focused in the shared objective that is being pursued , but they should also be reflected in and are endemic to, the cultural DNA of the community network itself .
The value of justice is so profound, and universally felt that even the smallest child will say” it’s not fair, ”if they are the victims of injustice; and they can also tell if someone is being caring and hospitable to them.
Self absorption or the glory of God?
The student of civilisation Arnold Toynbee believed he could show that civilisations rise and fall depending on their relationship to self absorption or justice, mercy and compassion. He called it nothing less than the ‘Glory of God’s moral creation on the move.’ Where did he get it from?
Moses said ‘Show me your glory.’ (Exodus 33:18) What he was shown is seen in Exodus 34:5-8 and can be summarised as God’s own moral nature, His glory.’ What motivates many movements to start, and want to take action is the fact that subconsciously, we know that something of God’s glory is going missing and part of us wants to protest. Behind all motivating objectives lies this profound revelation which is why it is a timeless vision.
What is our chief purpose on earth; why are we here?
Some will remember the timeless catechism statement “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Right here we find the underpinning wisdom that enables every human being, (if they take it seriously ) to be able to say at the end of their life “I have finished the work you have given me to do.” The greatest privilege afforded a human being is to be part of a fellowship that changes the world by reflecting God’s moral nature in it.
Theologians say that this is the glory that lies behind all that makes human societies prosper or decline.