Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life Seasonings - Principle 6 of 10

Principle 6:  Grow Well and Deep 
(Be Like An Oak Tree)

“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” A profound statement made at the very beginning by Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Discipline”.

Often we want and desire to extend the breadth of our influence in our ministry or career and these are the obvious and tangible things we see in our outward accomplishments. The downside is that if we are not careful, we get sucked into this curse of superficiality. We are uncomfortable with these inconsistencies because we have an in-built integrity check called “conscience”, an innate desire in our spirit to operate ethically or morally and be the kind of person exhibiting godly character and strength. We would like to grow well in breadth but we also know, like a tree, if it is without a deep root system, we will fall and crumble when floods and wind come. The oak tree is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many nations. From just a sapling, it grows into a giant that spread its branches, seeking light to nourish itself and searching with roots deep into the ground for water. What we can’t see are the hidden roots that feeds the majesty of the tree.

Many people may start well but they finish miserably at the end of their lives, or at best mediocrely. As the adage goes, “We live the first half of our life learning how to live the second half better.” With the experience of our first half, we hope to build a wealth and reservoir of godly wisdom, deep-rooted character that will enable us to live a remarkable second half. By remarkable I don’t mean the spectacular. I mean living life with a sense of destiny and purpose. I have always believed life really begins in our forties, the second half of our life. It will be much more exciting and significant because we would by then have the experience, wisdom, influence, respect and esteem to do what we can’t before when we were younger, and influencing many like-minded others alongside our cause. What many don’t realize are the bad decisions they had made in the first half which caused them to climb the corporate ladder, by hook or by crook, and having reached the top, to realize they are on the wrong wall! By then, climbing down and starting all over again on the right wall would be a little too late because the runway is so short and some consequences are irreversible.

Why is growing deep important? I have learnt earlier in ministry this important principle: “Don’t go places where your gifts take you but your character cannot sustain you.” It simply means that if you don’t intend to grow deep, then be very careful about going wide. If we take care of the depth of our life, God will take care of the breadth.

Why is it difficult to grow deep? Because it takes dedicated time, dogged determination and disciplined commitment. We live in an age that expects instant answers, gives up too quickly and easily distracted. We have more to eat, more to spend and more to enjoy, yet are we any better on the inside? There is certainly an ongoing search for a greater sense of purpose, fulfillment and significance. The world cries out for people with high ethical and moral standards.

We are all too familiar with the term IQ (Intelligent Quotient) that tells us something about our mental capability and capacity. Then someone invented the term EQ (Emotional Quotient) that reveals our abilities in handling our feelings and that of others. Now, another term emerges, SQ (Spiritual Quotient). It is about the ability to handle one’s life purpose, about growth, maturity, fulfillment and significance. As a Christian, this is not new. The concept of spirit, soul and body (1 Thes 5:23) and inward regeneration (Titus 3:5) is taught in Scripture and it is this regenerated spiritual man that is in tune with God who allows for that depth of life and character.

Why is growing in depth important for the Christian? Because it glorifies God and his life becomes a blessing to all those around him. He charges people up, rather than discharging them. His life becomes a source of refuge and strength. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:3

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Wouldn’t you want to go near a man or woman like this?

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