Friday, 2 July 2010

Seven Deadly Social Sins...

The image of the Gandhi quotation poster above arrived in my Sojourners mailing as a 'free bonus' for signing up for a subscription. Although the quotation was familiar I still decided to follow my instinct to Google for a bit more background and was impressed by this analysis from Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Dr. Steven is one of the world's leading management consultants and author of the best selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The section I found most interesting was on Religion Without Sacrifice (which on the poster is quoted as 'Worship without Sacrifice', revealing?!):
Without sacrifice we may become active in a church but remain inactive in its gospel. In other words, we go for the social facade of religion and the piety of religious practices. There is no real walking with people or going the second mile or trying to deal with our social problems that may eventually undo our economic system. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people - the sacrifice of our own pride and prejudice, among other things.

If a church or religion is seen as just another hierarchical system, its members won't have a sense of service or inner workship. Instead they will be into outward observances and all the visible accoutrements of religion. But they are neither God-centered nor principle-centered.

The principles of three of the Seven Habits pertain to how we deal with other people, how we serve them, how we sacrifice for them, how we contribute. Habits 4, 5 and 6 - win-win interdependency, empathy, and synergy - require tremendous sacrifice. I've come to believe that they require a broken heart and a contrite spirit - and that, for some, is the ultimate sacrifice. For example, I once observed a marriage where there were frequent arguments. One thought came to me : "These two people must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit toward each other or this union will never last." You can't have a oneness, a unity, without humility. Pride and selfishness will destroy the union between man and god, between man and woman, between man and man, between self and self.

The great servant leaders have that humility, the hallmark of inner religion. I know a few CEOs who are humble servant leaders - who sacrifice their pride and share their power - and I can say that their influence both inside and outside their companies is multiplied because of it. Sadly, many people want "religion," or at least the appearance of it, without any sacrifice. They want more spirituality but would never miss a meal in meaningful fasting or do one act of anonymous service to achieve it.
Read the full article here.



Sam Charles Norton said...

That's a very timely thought - I'll tell you why next time I see you :)

Al said...

It's astounding how easy it seems to be to work on the outside/visible/showy aspects of life and faith, and miss out on the inner/hidden/relational aspects that are the more important by far.

And even then, the natural tendency is to even turn the sacrifice into a show, a badge to wear with pride.

But our example is Christ. Philippians 2:5-8: Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.
He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.
Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!
Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death--and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. (The Message)

Peter Banks said...

Coolio Sam... that'll be the PCC meet then ;-) Still intrigued though!

Thanks Al, you are so right and thanks for including the verses from The Message.

I've been pondering your excellent post on your blog entitled 'Christ-like'... I have been thinking about a post that discusses how we are as individuals and corporately that defines us as 'Christians'. My conclusion is that whilst we are in the world what makes us not of it is to be 'Distinctly Christian'. This then aids our behaviour and practices to be unique... ooops, getting carried away on a comment!