Friday, November 30, 2007

Proactive . . . what an ugly word.

When I was in High School, my best friend's little brother had to read a book for one of his classes. It was called "Habits of Highly Effective Teens." Their teacher thought it would be good to encourage them to develop their leadership skills by forcing them to read this book, which ultimately completely unmotivated their already unmotivated selves from being effective. One of the habits described encouraged them to be proactive; to take the initiative; to make the first move; to get things done. Later on, I used 'proactive' in conversation and AJ cringed, withdrew, and with a distorted look on his face said, "Ugh, proactive, what an ugly word." The memory of the concept up to and including the word been so distorted for him that everything in him led him towards the opposite.
The fact is, however, in a world, centered around motivation, this is exactly the thing we, as we grow are encouraged towards. We are encouraged to get things done; and not only get them done but be the first to do them. Waiting is not as encouraged as it once was.
Sometimes when things arise in our lives that we are at a loss as to how to deal with them, this kind of thinking kicks in; sometimes without us even knowing it. Our first instinct is to deal with it. We sit and we complain thinking and saying "I don't know what to do." My question is, what makes us say this?
I want to suggest that it is in fact an unnecessary reliance on ourselves. Ah, yes, confidence in the flesh. It takes me back to my Pentateuch class in my first year of college. This is what kills us in life. We look at our lives and say, "It is up to me to live this life rightly, make it work and deal with everything that comes up." We all know that we can't do this. We've tried and tried again, just to fail. Yet we still ask the question, "What should I do?"
What if I told you the answer is more often than not, nothing. I'm still trying to tell myself the answer is more often than not nothing. But it's true. The reason for this being, there is often nothing to be done and the reason for that being, our plans and resolutions don't often fit within the plans and resolutions of God. Apart from those we can do nothing.
I developed an anxiety disorder because I refused to believe just this. I spent so long trying to figure out what I could do. But the reality was that there wasn't anything I could do. No move I could make; no action I could take. By the grace of God I began to realize this. It's an ongoing process, and I was reminded of it tonight as something arose and I immediately thought of the thing I should do.
I don't want the pressure of having to solve everything anymore; firstly because it's not mine to take, and secondly because it's a futile pressure to put on myself because I will just continually be frustrated in my lack of clarity to be a solvent. I'm sorry, that's quite the sentence.
Proactive, is often an beautiful word. Often, however, it's also a very ugly word. Somehow, I think we need to come to grips with the fact that we aren't the end all be all. God is, and he's going to remain that way forever.
And while we go about that, may we enjoy this encouragement to continually become less proactive.

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