Saturday, May 21, 2016

Corporate Living #13 & #14

#13. Keep up the prayer life and underneath that prayer life keep a surrendered heart.

#14. Keep the power of laughing at yourself.

Jones combined three necessities in the last two Corporate Living Principles. The habit of prayer should be maintained. An attitude of surrender towards God is required in order to get along with others. The ability to not take ourselves too seriously is also called for.

The instruction to keep these three qualities suggests that we already possess these traits. We are already people of prayer. We have already cultivated an attitude of surrender. We already have the capacity to take ourselves with a grain of salt.

If we are already this type of person, then we must be involved with some type of group that encourages these kinds of behaviors. The converse would also be true, if we are not already this type of person, then we have not found a group that cultivates these kinds of kingdom-reflecting traits.

For the sake of your own growth in faith, ask God to direct you to a group of people whose lives show evidence of prayer, surrender, and good humor.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Corporate Living #12

Corporate Living Principle #12 -- "Side with the group against yourself."  

Realizing harmonious relations between group members requires prioritizing. For Jones, the group-claim becomes our priority and that claim is stronger than any personal preference.

Casting a vote that limits my authority and influence in favor of a polity that more broadly shares power between group members would be one example of this principle in action. I would only be willing to do this if I felt 

  • the others could be trusted with more power
  • the needs of the group were greater
  • the mission of the group was more important
Consider Principle #12 as an invitation to reflect on the power dynamic within the group. If you are willing to choose the group's side and forego your own, that's a pretty good indication that you agree with the direction the group is heading, and the group's leading is pulling you in a new direction. The group is transforming you, and you like the results. In such a case, handing over power to the group was the correct decision.

If you find that you are unwilling to side with the group, then let your objection be known. Let God know about it. Let the leadership know about it. Let all the members know that disunity exists within the body. Living well with others depends upon such honesty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Corporate Living #11

"Refuse to look for slights regarding ourselves."

That's how Jones phrases Corporate Living Principle #11. Living well with others will become easier if we stop searching for personal attacks in what's said and done in the group .

My version of this principle is to remind myself that I can not read minds. Because I am not a mind-reader, there are many things about another that I can not know with any certainty. Such as --

  • how someone feels about me right now
  • what someone's opinion of me is at this moment
  • what someone's intentions towards me will be in the future
  • why someone is behaving a certain way towards me
Regarding this last point in particular, I can never know for certain when someone's behavior might change. An improved attitude can change behavior, and many things that have nothing to do with me can improve a person's disposition --
  • beautiful weather
  • adequate sleep
  • delicious food
  • laughter shared with friends
  • tender moments with a loved one
  • reconciliation of an estrangement
Given all this, I try to maintain an open attitude towards someone who has slighted me.  Just because someone has been dismissive towards me in the past does not mean I should expect more of the same treatment every time we speak.

Rather than being on the defensive, I try to be polite and engaging. At the same time, I am looking for an opening from my former enemy that suggests a willingness to improve our interactions. When I succeed in maintaining a non-anxious presence, the other person usually responds in kind. Not always, but enough that I keep asking for God's help to develop this interpersonal skill because I like the person I am becoming when I treat others this way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Corporate Living #10

Corporate Living Principle #10 -- "Give way in small things that do not involve principles"

This principle assumes that the group can agree on which matters are trivial and which are non-negotiables. So if you find yourself wondering why so much time is being spent debating inconsequentials, the reason may be that you have a different set of priorities than those of the group.

If this is the case, then living well with this group of people may be a challenge for you. Maintaining your patience with the group may require divine intervention. Ask for that divine assist in the patience department.  

This is one way that corporate living can become a means of grace. When we recognize that --

  • willpower alone is not strong enough to keep our attitude positive, and then
  • admit our need for help with interpersonal relationships within the group, and then
  • seek that help from God, and then
  • discern that God has answered our prayer.
then corporate living becomes a spiritual exercise that strengthens our faith. I think of this as the heavy weightlifting spiritual exercise because of the way it builds up my faith muscles.

This is a prayer for patience over small matters, which is different when the disagreement involves a faith principle. When the point of contention is a large matter, then pray for the courage to do God's will. Imagine yourself in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, praying so hard that the sweat pours off of you, and plead "Not my will, but yours be done."