Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lives, Well-Planned and Summoned

David Brooks has a great essay in The New York Times today. He describes two ways of looking at our lives.

First, he talks about Clayton Christensen, who when he was a Rhodes Scholar, decided that he would spend one hour a night "reading, thinking, and praying" about why God put him on the Earth. Once he spent a year doing that, he found it easier to order his life's priorities. He took a longer view. Brooks calls this approach the Well-Planned Life.

He contrasts this view of life to the Summoned Life, which says we can't possibly know all that we will face, especially when we are young. Adherents to the Summoned Life see life as essentially unknowable. All we can do is to consider our circumstances and to ask what we should do next, what is needed in the current situation.

I would say that spiritual people of all stripes have some success in using both approaches to navigate our lives. For me, one of the hugest benefits of having a spiritual life is that it orders my days and helps me set priorities. I'm to be about the business of helping God bring about the Kingdom, right here, right now. That means I refrain from destructive behaviors and actions. I look for ways to build people and institutions up, not tear them down.

It also helps me keep things in perspective. I'm not going to get all riled up about certain things that go on at work. In the long run, it's just not important.

I can't always know what I'll face in any given day or year or decade. No matter how I plan for my life to go, there will be surprises, both good and bad. But no matter what comes my way, I know that I must try to react in ways that correspond to my Christian values, values that are Lutheran tinged. I am the light of the world, the salt of the earth--I must act like it!

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