Surprising Word Picture

I enjoy wordsmithing.

Sometimes those pungent, pithy pronouncements are the product of prolonged experimentation. Other times the words gently surface from the obscurity of my mental dictionary.

Occasionally however, I am utterly surprised by the utterances which emerge, unsolicited.  This occurred last week during our monthly training for social entrepreneurs.

I was explaining one of our old visual models which grossly oversimplifies life in all its glorious complexity, but which has some utilitarian value as a teaching tool.  Here it is.  All of life explained in a single model!

The Elegance of Life

Of course for people who live in the real world, it would be a pentagon, not a triangle, but with my usual ruthlessness I unhesitatingly edited out the two sides for playing and whining.

So what is left is the important stuff — gritty, granular, and occasionally quite grand.

But since this is Sapphire, we simply cannot have something static.  We are a people in motion if we are anything at all.

So that takes us to the second model which is slightly more energetic, and (of course) painful.  It wouldn’t be Sapphire if we were not dispensing pain on a regular basis.

The Sequence of Life

You start at the bottom, of course.  As soon as you acquire any knowledge that has a “so what” factor to it, it should compel you to either grow  or do something productive.

It matters not a whit whether you go from knowledge to work or knowledge to growth because sooner or later, you are going to get to the other wall.

Suppose you go from knowledge to growth.  If the growth is real, you will then be propelled, naturally, to express that growth in some sort of transformational activity in the culture (loosely called “work” as a word that encompasses all productive “doing” in your life).

On the other hand, if you go from knowledge to work, you will most likely hit the wall and discover that you don’t have all the transformational resources the situation needs.

If you are doing something transformational and you hit the wall, there are only two possible causes of hitting the wall.  Either you need more truth about the situation, so you bounce back to the knowledge wall, or you need more growth to be able to execute the knowledge you have, in which case you bounce back to the growth wall.

The short version is, I think the normal condition of mankind is to spend your entire life hitting the wall.  Every time you hit the wall of work and you bounce back to knowledge or growth, you become a more transformational person and then go back to the work wall to transform more things faster and better.

The pain, you see, is productive pain and therefore to be welcomed.  It is that process of bouncing off the wall that allows us to grow so that we can play higher and higher up the wall, becoming Noble Subjects who accomplish more for the King than simply offering Him love and loyalty.

Cheating on Life

However, there is that sector of the human community that is pain-adverse for some reason, uniformly rejecting productive and unproductive pain, without discriminating between the two.  It is this tribe that elicited my unexpectedly violent verbiage.

The non-Sapphire, pain-avoidant tribe targets the small red slot on the work wall.

This sector of the wall represents what they know they can do without the pain of failure.  It is solidly within the range of their existing knowledge base and their existing growth level so they can perform that task with excellence continually, hiding their non-growth behind the thin veneer of static excellence.

With the tools they have already, they can be guaranteed that they will look good in that slot, and not be compelled by anything as uncouth as the pain of failure to actually grow!

So, they carefully avoid any work, ministry, loving action or transformational activity outside their carefully defined niche.

For this tribe, appearances are so much more important than substance and stunted growth is not a concern.

But I don’t share those values.

While I was waxing eloquent to my captive audience about the crime against humanity of not growing to your fullest potential, regardless of the pain, I heard myself say, “This is NOT a mausoleum.  You grow or you go!”


That has some shock factor!

I think I found our new tag line.

Copyright August 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

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7 Responses to Surprising Word Picture

  1. Merry says:

    The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all! It is our loss if we do not for whatever reason respond to adversity–pain, chaos, darkness–and make the most of it. He is so much more and so are we. My love to him always and my highest praise!

  2. Noeleen says:

    Go where, Arthur? Who defines growth? How does this fit with the Mercy Season sense of encountering but not fixing? If there is intense frustration in watching someone (or several someones) seemingly avoid growth with dogged deiberateness in the ‘mausoleum’ … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Is it not true that the only person I can have authority to demand change from is me? Very challenging! I think I get your point!

    • Go where? Go out of the company.

      And no, it is not true that the only person you have authority to demand change from is you. Look at the life of Christ and his dealings with all sorts of different people. He was continually challenging people to growth on all levels. And the epistles spell it out even further — community is not to become a place of enabling. On a very seminal level, if someone does not want to work, they are not to eat at your table. On a much more sophisticated level, church discipline was to boot someone out of community who refused to grow. So the dual pressures to make communities places where growth can take place in an optimal manner and at the same time to remove those who refuse to consider growth in any category is part of the paradox of life.

      • Noeleen says:

        You were talking about business and I was thinking about life. What I was trying to say – not very well – was that a change in behaviour (sign of growth) coming from a change of heart is a result of something happening inside. Fear of being asked to leave could be another reason for a change in behaviour but it might bypass the change of heart. I do see that Jesus challenged people to growth – when I read the Gospels I’m surprised at how straight He was with people. I love the passage in Ezekiel 36 ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ But I remember being taken aback when I read the bit before, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name , which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone, I will show the holiness of my great name, which you have profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.’

  3. Derick Gross says:

    This post made me thinking….

    I tend to do the more Work, for more results strategy, especially if i am very passionate about what i am doing. Needless to say this has lead to exhaustion. That tiredness has also been great, because without it i would of continued my old regime. Then i had to learn that energy spend does not always equates success or wealth or results. I suppose many of us find our legitimacy through working really hard. And that is why we gravitate to allot of work. And we translate this concept to our spiritual life. When in fact Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden light. For me this means little effort great results. Like in the world of a Sci-Fi movie. Thanks allot Arthur for your posts and your blessings on your website the Lord really uses it in my life and i honor you for your great result energy spending in His Kingdom 🙂

    • We can hit the wall a whole lot of ways, and tiredness from using our own strength is very likely the most common for alpha males. So we go back to growth to find why we are doing things we were not designed to do (and yes legitimacy crutches is a common cause) and then to knowledge to find out why the life of God is not flowing through us in what we do.

      When I say we want to play higher up the wall, it does not mean “do more.” It means do things that are of greater value to the Kingdom by fitting our precise design more accurately.

  4. Carita Boshoff says:

    WOW! HELP!

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