There are four basic courses by which we can live. These may not be planned but they will be followed regardless. Every life follows a set of rules, a default of ideals that may have been caught more than taught. We have to look at each of these individually and intentionally choose our route. This one choice will alter your future once and for all and opting out will default you to one of the first three.
4 life courses to choose from
1. A life of reaction.
With this paradigm we plod forward until something forces us to change direction.. The loss of a job will compel us to find another. The perceived acceptance of one or the rejection of another will dictate our circle of friendships. The initiative of another person toward us determines our course but without it, we aren’t motivated to action.
A life of reaction is a life lived in the twilight realms between conservatism and activism, hope and dejection, passive indifference and compulsive hyperactivity. It is a disorienting, sometimes dangerous way to live but the majority of people have chosen this lifestyle, most of them by default.
2. A life of conformity.
With this mindset we live according to the view of the crowd. We float on the current of popular opinion. We tend to gravitate to trends for our sense of well-being. We allow how we look to trump what we believe and we permit what others think to drive what we do. This course of life usually enrolls those who feel best when they are needed and who thrive on being liked. These people wrestle with appearances and grapple with perceptions. It is another dangerous way to live. It puts you at the mercy of opinion.
3. A life of independence.
Men and women who choose a life of independence cherish the illusion of autonomy. But when they group together with other like-minded people, carefully steering away from the current majority, they form of clan of virtual clones. Maybe it’s buying organic this-or-that, spurning anything genetically modified. Or perhaps it’s showing disdain for the “old school” by sporting a body covered with tattoos. Whatever sets them apart and unto themselves is trendy so long as it distinguishes them from the herd of the former generation. It can be a self-delusional way to live.
4. A life of intentionality.
When we were young, life happened as a matter of course. When we were hungry, food appeared, fully prepared by a parent or sibling. School was just out there – ready for us to plug-in and participate. Making friends was basically a slam dunk; all we needed was another recess and we returned with an armload of new chums. And for the most part, our weight remained stable. We could eat whatever we wanted and yet stay fit and slim.
Somewhere along the line, things moved from automatic to manual, from natural to deliberate and from involuntary to intentional. We are not told when the switch takes place but if we don’t make the transition, we will always be behind the eight ball. It happens at different times for different people but it does take place! The evolution comes without warning and it happens without our permission.
Our marriage, which early on seemed to maintain itself, will no longer survive the way it used to. Healthy marriages require intentionality and planned investment. So will our waistline and our emotional health. The Bible exhorts us to “run in such a way that we may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). It is not automatic
Which of these 4 life courses do you see yourself in right now?
***** This post was adapted from pages 159-161 of Wayne Cordeiro’s book “Leading on Empty:.”