Friday, December 28, 2007

Faith, Mercy, and Potential

It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.
- Soren Kierkegaard

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.
- Blaise Pascal

For many of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.
- John Ortberg

When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older I admire kind people.
- Abraham J. Heschel

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity.
- George Bernard Shaw

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
- Scott Adams

If you neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
- Abraham Lincoln

Mercy, detached from justice, grows unmerciful.
- C.S. Lewis

A good book that Steve Dennie passed on to me, Contrariaian's Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne, contains a helpful chapter - The Potential Trap: Why Being All We Can Be Might Be a Dumb Idea. Not only do pastor's need to read this chapter, but anybody who strives to improve their lot in life. It's not that achieving one's potential is bad in and of itself, but often times what we do to achieve potential is bad for us, bad for others, and bad for God. The temptation to achieve one's potential can be lucrative and destructive.

He writes...
Actually, my disillusionment with the pursuit of fully realized potential began...with a little fruit inspecting.
I noticed that my friends and colleagues who considered fulfilling their personal potential as the best way to please God were NOT becoming more Christlike. They were becoming increasingly competitive, self-centered, and dissatisfied.
I also noticed that when it came time to make major life decisions, the compass called potential always pointed to the bigger platform, the more challenging task, and the greater rewards. It seldom pointed toward sustaining a long-term relationship, a slower pace, a lesser role, or an old-fashioned concept called loyalty.

Destination Sickness:
Another problem with the quest to use all our gifts and fulfill all our promise, no matter what, is that it sets us up for the heartache known as Destination Sickness.
There's nothing worse than arriving where you wanted to go, only to realize you don't want to be there. We've all experienced it at some level - having left something good for what we though was much better; only to find that the greener grass was painted concrete.
But perhaps the saddest part of the journey to bogus greener grass is that it almost always leaves behind broken relationship. Co-workers, family members, friends, and those who depend on us are devastated to discover that our deepest loyalty is not to them, but to ourselves and our potential.

1 comment:

Mike said...


Thanks for sharing a couple of great passages from Larry's book. He's one of those guys that "clicks" with for me when I hear him speak. I haven't read this book yet, but it just went up my list.

May 2008 take you where God wants to lead.