Higher Standards » Informative articles on Christian education » Does It Pay to Do Right Anymore?

A 4-Step Guide to Saving Us from Ourselves

When I was growing up, there were times in my childhood when I knew that I wasn’t living up to my potential. Who am I kidding? There still are.

And then there were those times when I wasn’t doing what my parents thought I should be doing based upon what I had been given—opportunities, special privileges, and the like. With those times came the with-privilege-comes-responsibility speech.

Don’t tell me you can’t relate.

Well, friends, it turns out (not surprisingly) that our parents were right. Whether or not we consider it so, one of the privileges God has given us is being a part in the human race. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. We are humans with souls, and it’s time to start acting like it. The responsibility of taking care of each other lies with all of us.

But the responsibility implies that there is something wrong with us. It implies that there is something from which we need to be saved. Sin, ourselves—take your pick. Humanity is broken.

But unlike saving the planet, taking ourselves in hand involves a lot less tangible methods. You can’t simply recycle or vie for the life of the spotted owl and check items off your conscience’s to-do list, but I drew up a list anyway. (Admit it: you love lists.)

  1. Reflection

    It all starts with you. What’s the lens through which you view the world? (In other words, what’s your worldview?) That worldview is the springboard for all of your decisions. What you believe about the world influences how you think, what you say, and what you do. It shapes your character. (To find out more about how decision making forms character, check out my last article, “How Can You Change the World?”)

    As I established in my last article, the decisions you make will have a lasting impact on your character as well as the lives of others. Your decisions can affect history. You can see that choices made decades ago by politicians are still in effect and some choices of which we are only beginning to experience the repercussions.

    Your decisions influence your character, and character—collectively—creates culture. Your character will influence some else’s, and his character will influence someone else’s, and before long, your character has reached dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of lives. Thousands of people could be different because of how you treat someone. (It’s a Wonderful Life comes to mind.)

  2. Relationships

    This should be a no-brainer. If you’re going to influence people, you’ve got to talk to people. Sit with them in face-to-face conversations. Listen to them. Care about them.

  3. Reprioritization

    Unless you are a hermit with no connections to humanity, you have involved yourself in the lives of others. You belong to a family, group, club, organization, community, institution, or religion.

    Most likely, you devote a great percentage of your life to it because you have an interest either in the thing itself or in the outcome. You go to college because you want the degree. You participate in a political rally because you believe in certain beliefs or a particular candidate. You join a quilting club or a band because there are hobbies you enjoy, and you enjoy participating with other like-minded people.

    Part of your character is how much influence you let a certain group have over you. Do you advocate a stance just because everyone else holds that position?  Do you take everything that is said at face-value, or do you research the information?

    Do your homework. Don’t follow blindly. Don’t get caught up in petty issues.

  4. Repetition

    Evaluate your own character. Create good relationships with others. Reprioritize your group goals. Repeat the entire process.

Yep. Good character and influencing others toward good character is an ongoing process. There is no switch to flip; there is no magic trick. Life is a struggle, and the truth is, humanity will stay broken until God fixes it. But until that day, it is worth every effort we give to influence lives. We were put on this earth to glorify God.

And to quote a friend of mine, “People are where it’s at.”