January 30, 2015

Mostly cloudy

Fully-alive Living: Calculating What Matters

You and I have something in common.

We are both richly blessed with information, and likely don’t use it to make the most of the opportunities in front of us.

Take this newspaper, for example. You might be reading it in your home, at McDonalds, around a library table or clicking your way through it online. Between the stimuli around you and the printed words in front of you, you’ll likely peruse through it all without leaning into a whole lot of it.

Researcher Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book “Blink” that this is a self-defense mechanism of your brain. Simply put, you can’t pay deep attention to everything available to you in any given moment or else you’ll literally go insane. It’s why we filter what we can, letting our brains function like a camera to make certain things clearer while simultaneously making other things blurrier.

If you paid attention to any of that, congratulations.

I collided with this reality during a recent mission trip to Honduras. A handful of people asked me to teach them about some specific things they were interested in knowing more about. They assumed that because I had regular access to unique information here in the United States that I was somehow maximizing and growing in wisdom from it.

It reminded me of a story Jesus told where a man entrusted resources to his servants. Two out of the three men multiplied their share, causing the master to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)

How are you doing at calculating and focusing on what really, really matters?

It seems as though we can in any given moment specialize in certain deliberations:

  • Multiplication: When you’re a multiplier, you make the most of what’s in front of you so it becomes a contagious investment from one person or situation to the next. On a personal level, it’s typically fostered by asking, “What are the traits of who I could be over the next season of my life and what’s necessary today and tomorrow to get me there?”
  • Addition: Adding to your life or someone else’s life sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t the same as multiplying. It’s one notch down, usually because you aren’t able or willing to put in an exponential amount of effort. If you are holding back, maybe you need to ask, “How am I pursuing my personal sense of security or comfort over the opportunities in front of me?”
  • Subtraction: We subtract from our lives when we won’t believe truth about who we are and instead buy into lies that we grew up with or stumbled into. Do a gut check and ask, “In what ways do I underestimate what I am actually capable of?”
  • Division: People who divide tend to follow their natural desires or sense of morality in lieu of anything larger. We’re all capable of this, so ask, “What do I need to stop making a big deal about that really isn’t a big deal?”

In addition to these ways you can try to sum up your life, you might also struggle in trying to be “the answer.” It takes me back to Honduras when I turned to the people who were asking me for advice and said, “I get why you’re asking me. In America, we are blessed with information. You, on the other hand, have desperation – and I’d like you to teach me what you’ve learned by making the most of what you have in order to grow.”

That may seem odd to you. After all, don’t we avoid desperation as much as possible in order to feel comfortable? Then again, isn’t desperation where real growth and trust take root?

Ponder that as you have food in the fridge, gas in the tank and a bank account you can access on your smartphone. Those resources are amazing and can add to your life, but they just might keep you from really multiplying what matters most.

Until then, see you next week… if not around town.


Tony Myles

Tony Myles

“Fully-Alive Living” offers weekly insights to serve you in taking another step forward in matters of the heart, soul, mind, body, and relationships. With over 20 years of experience and advanced education in working with people of all ages, Tony Myles and his family live in Medina where he serves as the Lead Pastor of Connection Church.

Blog: tonymyles.blogspot.com

Twitter: @tonymyles

Contact email: tony@connectionchurch.org