I am only a casual observer of boxing, but it is easy to make some basic observations about the sport. Some of the greats like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard were quick on their feet and always on their toes. Often their opponents found themselves knocked back on their heels against the ropes being punished with blow after blow. When you are knocked back on your heels it is hard to escape an attack and easy to get knocked down.
What happens when we move away from our vision, mission, and goals and become reactionary in everything that we do? A few examples…
- An organization with a clear mission leaves the path of accomplishment to chase after the latest accusation, crisis, or controversy. Leading by crisis is not a sustainable path. When all energies are poured into responding to the latest controversy, the leadership produces fatigue, factions, and failure within the organization.
- A family fails to set goals or expectations and finds themselves in a morass of complacency and failure. Parents aren’t given the option of leading their family, they are given the responsibility to be strong, pro-active leaders. Even the youngest of families can have goals, standards, and expectations.
- An individual is paralyzed by fear and motivated only by eminent failure. With no goals or motivation they surrender to laziness, unmet potential, and quite often will tear others down in an attempt to bring them to their level.
This all sounds pretty negative, especially coming from a guy who is by nature an optimist and strives to seek out the best in others. I believe we are seeing in our society the fruits of our hyper-informed culture. A few illustration that parallel the above points…
- The church has a clear mission – Matthew 28:19-20 – “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Pretty simple right? Everything we do is supposed to be focused on reaching out and making disciples. Does the command of Jesus sound like we are supposed to be on ‘offense’ or ‘defense’? I don’t know about you, but with Jesus’ assurance that He is with me ALWAYS I am motivated to push past the follies of this world and accomplish the ONE thing He commanded me to do. A church that is fully accomplishing the goal that Christ set forth most likely won’t have the energy for much of the foolishness we see today. Being absorbed in a hyper-informed culture distracts the church from the primary mission and leaves us chasing after the latest thing that catches our attention.
- I’m probably not the only person who observes families when I am out and about. Last night we took our girls out to dinner to celebrate an accomplishment of our older daughter. There were two other families within glancing view of our table. Every time I looked at their table I saw mom on a phone, dad on a phone, and kids on a device. Before the meal came, during the meal, and as they were leaving, both families were plugged into whatever was on their device instead of each other. There are times we need to be on a device, but all the time? As the Dad of young children I recognize it is exhausting work at times but the work of parenting is an essential one. A question to parents… what information, communication, or game are you looking at on your phone that is more important than your children? I can’t even predict the problems we are heaping up for our young families when we place a premium on being connected to a device instead of our children.
- “Failure to launch” is a relatively new phrase that has been coined for young people who just can’t seem to get out on their own and start life on their own. Have you thought about this transition from their perspective? We are in a new era of communication and information where young adults are constantly connected to the best of what their peers are up to. It is easy to look at Instragram, Twitter, or Facebook and see the best of what others have to offer and feel inadequate and incapable. As the brain of a young adult enters the critical maturation stage, they are surrounded by a cyclone of information that many seem to have trouble piercing through. High school and college students, as well as young adults, are perhaps the group that is most easily knocked down because it is a challenge to establish a footing in the first place.
Our two-year old falls down and gets up countless times throughout the day. She can be walking right along and with no trouble in sight…boom…. she is down on the ground. I can accidentally brush up against her and down she goes. If your body had doubled in height in the last year you’d probably be a bit wobbly too. But we are there to pick her up, give her a hug, and help her learn if there is a lesson to be learned. (Such as the danger of dancing on tables that was taught this morning.) I don’t expect her to have these problems for long because she is learning and adapting. But new challenges will arise and we will be there to love and help facilitate learning.
As individuals we were created with amazing potential. DadisLearning.com is all about the idea of life-long learning in every aspect of life. Learning keeps us moving forward toward the goal we have set. Families and organizations are also called to keep their focus on the end goal. We have all seen the result when focus is lost and we chase after things that don’t matter…we get knocked down. Let us make sure we are focused together on the goals that are set before us. We should also be encouraged to love on another in the face of the challenging struggles we all face.
Philippians 2 is an amazingly appropriate passage for this post. It is the subject matter of Dinnertime Devotionals 37. If you don’t look at the devotionals I encourage you to at least read the passage – Dinnertime Devotionals 37