Struggles with myself – my primary focus

In this series of posts, I intend to discuss some of the problems that affect our lives. I think bluntly and honestly acknowledging our current situation is essential to improving or safeguarding our families and communities.

There are several sources of problems that I plan to cover in this series of posts. While I had not planned to start with ourselves (as a source of problems), I do think there are a few good reasons to do so:

  • Avoiding a contentious spirit
  • Removing sin from ourselves is required
  • Focusing on myself gives the greatest effect

This post may not feel like it is directly applicable to your life today, and specifically to your efforts to overcome the consequences of our feminist culture, but I ask you to be patient. This is a foundation that will be used as we progress.

Avoiding a contentious spirit

First, I do not want to start this blog with what could be interpreted as a negative or contentious spirit — and starting off by criticizing other may do exactly that.

Titus 3:10-11 – 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Any leader that seeks to build up himself or his listeners by tearing others down does a significant disservice. It is my hope that we can avoid this.

Removing sin from ourselves is required

If you are not a follower of Christ, then perhaps replace the religious term “sin” with “self-destructive behaviour”. While sin has greater consequences than merely the destruction it brings about in our lives and in the community around us, all sin is in fact destructive. (Anyone feel they can give an example of sin that does not demonstrably harm ourselves or our community?)

Whether you wish to live out your Christian faith, or to avoid self-destructive behaviours, removing sin from our lives is not optional. This is true regardless of the failings of others, and how those failings may be harming you.

I am sure each of us can, unfortunately, give many examples of how our own sinful or foolish choices directly harmed us. Perhaps the harm was small, but nevertheless real.

Consider a small example of laziness. When I procrastinated on my university essays, the resulting time-crunch at the end always resulted in stress. Yet I procrastinated on (almost?) every one. Why? I did roughly the same amount of work in the end. Therefore nothing was gained… apart from stress.

Focusing on myself gives the greatest effect

One of the best reasons to focus on myself and my own failings, or problems, is because this will give the most effective result. Most of us have no significant ability to control the actions of others.

An army officer, a police officer and a judge can force another into prison. A parent with a young child can physically pick up the child and forcibly carry the child away from the hot stove.

But in most of our dealings, our ability to actually control the actions of others is either limited or non-existent.

Consider a man who has legitimate problems at work. His boss is, in fact, unreasonable. Can this man alter the unreasonable rules and actions of his boss? Unlikely.

But what about his own actions? He is able to determine whether he regularly arrives late for work, whether he shows open disrespect to his boss, and whether he disobeys the instructions from his boss.

Given these facts, how should the man make an effort to improve his work life?

Perhaps it is true that the greatest part of the problem is on his boss’s side. But given the complete lack of ability to control the actions of his boss, the man would be far better served by focusing on his own contributions to the problem, small though they may be.

Even if you suggest that the man find a different job, this is still putting the focus on himself. It is his own decision and efforts that will leave to the amelioration of his work life through the acquisition of a new job.

Suppose a man finds that potential employers find him unsuitable, due to his lack of a technical diploma in the relevant field. This man could try to change the attitudes of the hiring managers. He likely has no pre-existing relationship with these hiring managers. How likely are they to care about his views on the importance of a diploma?

It may be pleasant for him to decide that the problem is entirely the fault of others, and therefore he has no need to change or improve.

But perhaps a better choice is to just get the diploma, so he can get a job. Or alter his job search to another field. Or build a portfolio of past work to prove his competence to hiring managers. All of these choices will take effort on his own part. And I suspect all would be more effective than trying to convince a hiring manager that their hiring priorities are wrong.

End notes

I am aware this post has no direct basis in Scripture. I can point to many passages that tell us to alter our own behaviour. I can also point out that, apart from specific authority relationships, we are not taught to try to control or alter other people.

The next post in this topic will be much better in this respect. For now, it would be proper for you to criticize and correct my views — a foundation of human wisdom is weak, compared to a foundation on even the “foolishness” of God.

1 Corinthians 1:25 – For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

May God bless and guide you.

2 thoughts on “Struggles with myself – my primary focus

  1. “Avoiding a contentious spirit”

    I’m amazed at how someone like John Lennox can calmly talk to anyone, no matter how critical. He speaks into the lives of non-Christians in a way that few do. Those who avoid being unnecessarily contentious seem to be most effective, and since that corresponds to biblical teachings, that’s not surprising!

    The internet is, by its nature, a place that naturally fosters contention. On the internet you have no personal bonds. Anonymity fuels this. How can we, as Christians, participate in a unified community of believers when we don’t even know each other? For better or worse, it seems like avoiding contention means focusing on meatspace. I’ve often wondered if my writings here are worth it. Can they ever produce more good than the bad that they do? Maybe Dalrock feels the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Proverbs 15:1-2 – 1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
      but a harsh word stirs up anger.
      2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
      but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

      Anonymous conversation can promote contentious communication, and sometimes we see that. I think most people of character will consistently show respect to others, regardless of the setting.

      Titus 3:1-2 – 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

      Not saying I have a perfect history in this of course….

      Like

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