The Tension of Being vs Doing

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I love to hear stories of people pausing to evaluate their decisions. I think too often we pray asking for God to direct us and give us wisdom when what we really want is for God to approve the desires of our hearts. The real issue isn't our desire but our motivation. But when that pause comes and we begin asking the hard questions of ourselves, a tension tags along that reminds us that the struggle is the journey.

A lot of decisions, even big ones, can seem obvious: It's the next step in the corporate ladder, it's the degree I need in order to do what I'm suppose to do, it's the job that doesn't fit me but it pays the bills, plus a myriad of other choices of which we can all fill in the blank with personal experience.

I believe that the tension of being vs doing begins with how we think and ultimately determines our behavior and decision making patterns. Doing can be intellectually or emotionally driven. We act based on a sense of pattern related to our previous experience while logic convinces us to make decisions reflecting what we believe is the next step in that pattern. Other the other hand, some of us have experiences with intense emotional connections which drive us to make a bold decision, moving decisively in a particular direction - at times a direction that is completely new and different from anything we have considered before. Neither of these realities are intrinsically wrong but our motivations can frequently be rationalized by logic or emotional determination rather than a consideration of God's creative design of you and plan for you. Bottom line is we make a lot of assumptions...all the time about nearly everything. We take a look at what our life has been and assume what our life will be. That may or may not be healthy and wise. The point here is owning how we think and, thus, how we make decisions in life and about our lives.

A "doing" mindset focuses on accomplishing tasks, often referred to as results oriented. A"being" mindset focuses on who I am becoming, often considered as process oriented. The tension isn't that being and doing are polar opposites. Rather, they are filters we choose to prioritize as we consider how to view and live our lives. By placing a high priority on who we are becoming we shift our focus to the significance of the day at hand and the impact that our presence has on others. In fact, we may even become more prepared to accomplish what we must and are responsible to do because we have a sense of why we ought to remain loyal to our commitments. We may even begin to view our life and such responsibilities as opportunities rather than obligations.

Father, may you show mercy on my life for how self-preserving, satisfying, and assuming I have been and, regretfully, continue to be. May your grace bring about transformation.