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Issues of the Soul

Based on the work that I do, I have concluded that most men in our culture are focused on three things:

Achieving, Accumulating & Experiencing In the process we do not give a great deal of thought about the type of men we are becoming. We might end up living a very pleasurable life, but it is unlikely to contain a high level of meaning…it will not be meaningful.

We are seldom taught that the key to experiencing a meaningful life is to make a difference in the lives of others. Far too infrequently does a young man think seriously about the value of character, wisdom, or relationships. Peter Drucker observed that most men are under-prepared for the second half of life and that there is no school or university to equip them for it.

Perhaps this explains why many men enter adulthood and just follow the herd. What would others think of us if we chose to be different from everyone else? The poet, e.e. cummings, expressed this quite well when he wrote, “We live in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make us just like everybody else.”

And this is, in fact, what happens to most men.

I guess you could say that most of us share the same vision; unfortunately, it is the wrong vision. It is a vision based on how successful we can be in the visible, measurable dimensions of life. Over time we begin to realize that we are unable to make sense of all the struggles that we experience. We experience private struggles concerning issues and spiritual questions that nobody sees or talks about.

It as if we live with a divided self. On the one hand each of us has an outer public life that everyone sees and uses to measure and judge us. It is the part of life that we feel compelled to manage especially well; after all, it is the source of our worth and identity. On the other hand, each of us has a private inner life. This is the area that we keep hidden from the rest of the world.

This is not the life that God intended for us. God’s will for us is that we be Christlike. This has nothing to do with being religious. In fact, one of the problems with religion is that it does not touch and impact our hearts. Too many men have somehow come to believe that Christianity merely involves our external behavior such as going to church, attending Bible studies, or giving to charity. However, true Christianity focuses on the inner life; it is about the life of God working in the soul of man.

And this is so crucial to understand: all the struggles we have as men stem from issues of the soul. The soul is so important because it is the very center of every human being. As Dallas Willard has noted, each man’s soul is running his life at any given moment. Willard says that the soul is deep in the sense of being basic or foundational but also in the sense that it lies almost totally beyond conscious awareness.

Willard makes it very clear, however, that if we are going to lead healthy and successful lives, our souls must be properly ordered under God. He says that when our souls are in correct relationship to God, we as men will be “prepared for and capable of responding to the situations in life in ways that are good and right.”

At its fundamental level, Christianity is relational – to know Jesus as a living reality. In knowing Him and deepening our relationship with Him, a process of transformation begins to take place. It is a transformation of our heart and soul at our core, our very center. In today’s trying times we are looking for anything that will make us feel better – anything that will fix us. God, however, desires to heal us and to restore us so that we might become the men that He created us to be. And when this happens, it will impact every other area of our lives.

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