Posts tagged character
You don’t hear much about one’s will in preaching these days. There’s plenty about God’s love, God’s mercy, and how God thinks each of us is so very wonderful. There’s lots about our allowing God to do this or that— be the center, be in charge, be on the throne, take my life, let it be this or that for Thee.
Listening to all of this, it’s easy to get the idea that the Christian life is lived passively. The inference is that you just sit and wait, yielded and surrendered until God decides to act upon your life … then suddenly, you do great things for God.
In my observation, people pretty much do what they’ve trained themselves to do. If you’ve trained yourself to live your faith passively, you’re not likely to spring into action when God makes an opening that requires fast obedience and involves risk.
When we sing “Lord take my life and let it be fully pleasing unto thee” I imagine God asking us: “Well, what do you want?
Do you want your life to please God?
Then, tell your boyfriend you’ll sleep with him when he marries you. Not again ‘till then.
Insist that your employer pays you “above the table”.
Gather some friends and help someone who’s needy. Keep doing it until they ask you why.
Each is an action.
It requires your will to do it.
To drift through the years, living an indistinctive life also takes your will. The will to live like everyone else.
Your stuff is paramount.
All this, Martin Buber calls our “little will”. He says it’s “ruled by things and drives”. Like our emotions and preferences. The little will never accomplishes anything great.
And, in the US in this hour, so pitifully little seems to be getting done that honors Christ and blesses those outside the Church, that we’d be wise to engage our “great wills” and get after it.
If not, I fear Christianity could be within a few decades of extinction.
Recently I heard an interview with the founder of a Freedom from Religion group. Their purpose is to educate the United States in “nontheism” –ridding society of all worship. He relished the amazing progress of their cause in the US and points to Scandinavia where he said fewer than 4% have any religious faith.
A secular utopia.
You can bet this man’s will is fully engaged in its pursuit.
Coaching distinctions #46.doc
We’re examining destiny. You have one. Waiting for you. As Buber says, you must pursue it with your whole being, not knowing where it waits. You have a ‘great will’ that wants to live a noble, heroic, God-honoring, and history-impacting life.
And, you have a ‘little will’ that above all desires to:
Be in control.
These motivations I call “The Formidable Four”.
They show up everywhere.
They undermine a pastors’ resolve to lead clearly, consistently, and courageously. They invite congregations to focus inwardly, even while the community—where they’ve been placed as God’s provision—drifts further from Christ. They motivate elders to gesture at change rather than do the hard work of maturing disciples who bear fruit as a way of life.
In my life, the “little will” dissuades me from initiating conversations about financial support for the ministry to which I’m called. It presses me to downplay the urgency to enroll pastors in new reFocusing Networks, when my momentum begins to wane. It cautions me to play safe in coaching, rather than offend a client by illuminating a character flaw that is undercutting her leadership. And after an unusually intense week (like last week), it tempts me to blow off writing this blog!
Buber’s ‘great will’ and ‘little will’ wrestle within us.
Save or spend.
Walk or take the car.
Stand up for what you know is right or compromise to keep peace.
Pander to the preferences of your congregation or lead them to serve others selflessly.
Develop the character of around you or settle for being liked.
We see the conflict between great and little will played out in US politics.
While campaigning, candidates’ towering rhetoric calls to our ‘great will’.
It extols the virtue of selflessness, challenging us to forfeit our petty comforts in the short run to establish or protect or defend something noble and honorable and necessary and good for the generations that follow. It speaks of great accomplishments and great sacrifice and uniting for the benefit of the nation.
Then, post-election, the ‘little will’ takes over.
Its priority is whatever will please the most people now. Minimize pain, discomfort, and anxiety immediately—no matter how it infantilizes the population, rips apart our social fabric, and devastates those who’ll inherit the mess.
This blog is not about politics.
It’s about you.
Which will wins?
Coaching distinctions #44.doc