Friday, May 31, 2013

Before You Buy…

So you get an email from a marketing guru. She tells you your life story like she’d been sitting next to you all these years. She knows exactly what walls you’ve been bashing your head on, what hurdles you’ve been knocking over and what weeds you can’t keep down. Maybe she gets you reading the blurb for 5 minutes, nodding your head and giving grunts of recognition as you acknowledge her total grasp of the situation. So, obviously, if she has such a good grasp of the situation then she’s probably got the answers lurking in her briefcase.

Now, is she a scam artist? No, she’s earning six figures practicing what she preaches and has helped scores of people to sort out their jumbled business lives. You’ll notice that as she explains some of the principles of running a successful business she keeps punctuating the proceedings with a reminder that she started out as ignorant as you. So how did she come by this wealth of wisdom and expertise? Well, of course she has tested all the angles and through trial and error it was almost inevitable that she would hit on some of the right answers somewhere along the line.

What is more certain is that most of the people who have bought into her program will just keep making the same mistakes and most of them will probably have not got any further than reading the course. Others will have been full of good intentions and may even have begun implementation but life is so hectic and urgent that these things always get left for when there is more time (and motivation). They will have read the no quibble money back guarantee but, knowing full well that failure was down to their lack of commitment rather than any fault in the program, they won’t exercise their quibbles.

So what is it that separates the success stories from the dust collectors? Inevitably it is those who persisted in their efforts to make the program work that really benefited but what of the placebo effect? Could it be that the program was secondary to the will to succeed? Is it possible that while the initial investment was not wasted, it was more the impetus than the content that contributed to their success? After all, the guru selling the program admitted her initial ignorance. It must have been her motivation and refusal to be blinded by science that drove her on to succeed.

It was once said, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Maybe it could read, “Those who can, do; those who have done, teach.”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are We Too Needy?

I realise I have to write shorter articles; otherwise I'm just not going to keep this blog going. So here's what I'm thinking: I've noticed one or two songs expressing our desperation for God and, somehow, it just doesn't sit right with me. Desperation suggests being at the end of your tether and while its good that we recognise our dependence on God for everything this is surely not a healthy state to be in permanently. Let's say you have become unemployed or suffered an injury that leaves you unable to work. You then become dependent on benefits. So long as the benefits come in on time and are meeting your basic needs you shouldn't be desperate. It might make you realise how dependent you are if a payment should be delayed a few days but this wouldn't be how anyone would expect to live.

Life is relatively easy in our country and that can make us lazy in that most of us know where our next meal is going to come from. We can be open about our faith because we're not likely to be punished for what we believe. That's not true in other countries. Many Christians are indeed desperate and look to God to save them from imminent danger. We have needs those Christians don't have. We need to be more conscious of a generous, life giving God who meets all our needs. But generally we have no need to be desperate. Is this desperation really a cry for meaning and purpose in our cosy and apathetic state? Jesus told us that his kingdom is near and among us. Indeed, where two or three gather together he is there. So why are we desperate? We have his presence and an over-abundance of gifts. We are either ungrateful or self obsessed.

The Apostle Paul said he was content in all circumstances, whether he had much or nothing. When he was poor he didn't cry out to God to make him rich and when he was comfortable he didn't ask God to make him uncomfortable. He knew where he stood with God and where God stood with him. In his letter to the Ephesians he prayed that they would know the unbelievable riches they had in Christ. They didn't need to plead with God to make their lives better; they needed to understand that everything they required was within their grasp.