Wisdom & Skillful Living
Building off of our previous narratives, where we concluded that in the pace and rush of our lives, we need to slow down and consider wise living – living skillfully in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. In the words of the New Testament, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” I Thess. 5:18. Easier said than done. Much of it is captured by way of monitoring our perspectives.
I find that the human experience often lends itself to extremes – we are either too easy on ourselves or we are too hard on ourselves. Consider these tools for self-assessment:
Think Critically about Ourselves – James 6:4. “4Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone.” In a day when we seem to velvet glove life analyses, there is a benefit to self-criticism. Life is not rewarded by participation trophies. The quality of what we do is important for measurement. It is important to be critical of one’s self – if we weren’t, we’d have nothing to strive for, no motivation to better ourselves, and our lives would quickly become meaningless. I believe in being pretty serious about self-assessment. Recognizing that we are all subject to personal deception, I think Abraham Lincoln had it right when he surrounded himself with some of his toughest critics. Listening to others is a key ingredient to wise living.
Avoid the Trap of Comparing Ourselves to Others – James 6:5. “without comparing themselves to someone else, 5for each one should carry their own load.” When I taught my classes at the college level, I regularly reminded my students to NOT ask how others did on the same test or paper. There is no benefit in those kinds of comparisons. The measure of wisdom comes in self-assessment not group assessment. It’s a human tendency to always see the present as lacking and the future as promising much better. There’s a reason for this tendency, as it helps us stay motivated to push forward and take action. However, self-criticism can get ugly when it becomes all about comparing ourselves to others. When this happens, we quickly lose sight of our progress.
So be pretty tough on yourselves in your assessments and goals for now and the future. But don’t give up and don’t get caught in group analyses. To each his own.
And of course, the best and most critical of tests, for now and for eternity, is the spiritual self-assessment.
– John Moore