Is Survival the Supreme Goal?

In a book that I am currently reading, Erwin McManus makes the following statement:

Once survival becomes our supreme goal, we have lost our way. – Unstoppable Force

AbandonedIs that not an interesting statement?

I think it is a safe statement that many of us believe that the majority of life is about survival. Survival of the fittest, at that. Yet, Erwin goes on to suggest that each generation is about the business of securing the next generation’s ability to thrive.

What if life is not about surviving? What if life is about helping others to live?

As I write these words, I am attending a meeting of the Midwest Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. We are about the business of the denomination in the Midwest. We are about the business of the denomination’s survival.

This past week, our nation experienced the conclusion of, arguably, its most acrimonious presidential election cycle. Ever. To the tune of nearly 3 billion dollars, each party and their candidate flung dirt, suspicion, and forms of hope across the airwaves. The parties were about the business of securing their ability to survive and little else, apparently.

Yet, in each circumstance, I can not shake the feeling that we are focused nearly exclusively upon survival, and not nearly enough on ensuring the next phase or generation will thrive. We are clinging to the past and what was, rather than agreeing that change is inevitable and adapting our “children” to the new reality. Safety and security versus expansion and regeneration.

When a healthy relationship exists within the life cycle, a selflessness of giving oneself away is created. The more one focuses on one’s own living, the less one is concerned about giving life to others. – Erwin McManus, Unstoppable Force

Ouch…

On a Personal Level

That last sentence in Erwin’s quote above, “The more one focuses on one’s own living, the less one is concerned about giving life to others,” deeply wounds me.

How many times have I been more concerned about:

  • my next paycheck, but not my unemployed neighbor?
  • my next meal, but not the beggar on the street corner?
  • what kind of car I drive, but not about the family that needs a ride to the doctor’s office?

What’s intriguing is that this pattern of behavior is not relegated to the spiritual or the spiritually minded. This pattern replicates itself in my business and my industry. Agents concerned with themselves, their next paycheck, their next bill, will often miss the opportunity to work with fantastic clients. I have seen agents drop everything to get a lease together and then blow off, or flat out forget, an appointment with a buyer or seller. The financial difference between a lease and a sale is substantial, but the amount of time to collect the commission is just as different, with leases typically paying out within a matter of a few weeks.

The phrase, stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime, comes to mind.

As I become less focused on my own life, I find that I have the luxury of more time to focus on my wife. More time to focus on my sons and my family… people that are not me. Perhaps as a family, we can become more concerned about those around us than we are enamored with our own lives. I certainly hope so.

5 Responses to Is Survival the Supreme Goal?

  1. Great thought, Todd. I’m right there. I feel this yearn to be more beyond just myself but see my current station as restrictive and wonder what God has in mind. Then I read a letter by the apostle Paul to a young man he is mentoring (Timothy, 2 Tim 2) and realize that he is in prison writing this letter. Pretty limiting. How much influence can a guy with all his talent have in prison? Well, we all know that answer don’t we?

  2. Glenn,

    As our focus in life maintains on Him, there becomes little room for me in that focus. Prison, cube-farm, manufacturing line, bus driver’s seat: God makes use of us where we are.

    • Teri,

      The phrase, “acta non verba,” has held my attention for about a year and a half now. With specific regards to the all the social online, there is a TON of “verba,” with little “acta.”

      Here’s the fun part: a client recently told me that while they appreciate my voice online in my own industry, they were very happy to refer me to friends and family because of the results produced. In their opinion, walking the talk was worth more than the sum of words typed/spoken.

      The really awesome part, Teri? There is a freedom and, nearly, wistfulness that comes with being focused and concerned on others and meeting their needs.

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