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Puzzle Pieces

March 13th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 12: 28 (NLT)

28 The way of the godly leads to life;
      that path does not lead to death.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

So much of what we seek in life has to do with the everyday stuff.  How do successful people learn?  What are their habits?  What books are they reading?  How does their daily routine differ from mine?  We search for the magic formulas that make certain people possess lives of significance.

This search is most common among the world of business and economics.  The giants of industry . . . chief executive officers and world-renowned innovative entrepreneurs . . . release best-selling books that outline the seven steps to creating successful businesses or assembling winning leadership teams.  We long to find the secrets that set them apart from the rest of the world.

Even in the Church, this desire to discover the elusive secrets of spiritual maturity is great.  How did you grow your church to that size?  When do you prepare for your sermon?  What is your method  for small group ministry?  How did you pay off your facility?  We hope that someone else’s actions might translate into our own personal success.

Trust me, I find no fault in the practice of seeking wisdom from those who have significant fruit in their lives.  Hey, isn’t this just what the Bible said to do?  The problem is the number of variables.  When you start breaking down the daily lives of highly effective people, you discover that they exist in a different paradigm . . . if not a totally different universe . . . than you do.  

They run ten miles a day.  They read five books on leadership every week.  They wake up at four o’clock in the morning to pray for two hours and they spend their evenings reading nursery rhymes to homeless children down at the mission.

So, you set out to reproduce their model of leadership in your own life only to discover that you can’t run even one mile– that you need more sleep than they do– and that the mission isn’t even interested in your reading services.  Dude, what went wrong?

What went wrong wasn’t the method; it was the assumption.  There is a common erroneous assumption out there that thinks significance is doable in reproducible steps.  Even in ministry, we often hope that by pushing the copy button, we can replicate the success of others.  But no two businesses, churches, or families look the same.  Why?  Because our influence is a reflection of our personal selves.  

That’s why this passage gives us the simple truth about finding the right paths in life: “The way of the godly leads to life;  that path does not lead to death.”  Notice that the term used here is “way” and not “ways”.  You see, finding the correct path isn’t an issue of detail reproducibility; it’s an issue of letting the content of our faith and character dictate the personal details of our journey.  Much like a piano sounds much different when being played by my fingers as opposed to the fingers of a renowned jazz pianist, the melodies of life will take on the tones of the one doing the said living.  

It won’t always sound the same or look the same, but the singular “way of the godly” should be our greatest goal.  A life that seeks God with diligence and purity will need less worry about the details because the big picture will eclipse the thousands of thumbnail photos that threaten to detour our focus.

When one puts together a puzzle, they always look at the box to figure out where the pieces should fit.  Such is the way of the godly . . . it’s the picture that guides the daily puzzle pieces into their proper place.

So seek the minor details, but don’t lose sight of the singular “way” that God has drawn on your puzzle box.  View if often and use it to find the next missing piece.


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