Serendipity and Spiritual ADD
“Believe in Something Bigger!” That was quite a statement of promise on a sign in the window of my local convenience store. And then at the bottom I saw what that “bigger” something was: Powerball. The multi-state lottery.
I am amused when the secular world tries to be profoundly spiritual. Whether it is shampoo, lotions, accessories, cars, or lottery tickets, everyone wants their promotion to appear deeper than just crass commercialism.
Sometimes these “words of wisdom” appear randomly. “We create ourselves as we go!” proclaimed one paper bag from a gift store. I assumed they wanted me to make myself into a better person. Yet I know that I can only become a new creation with the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Do-it-yourself sanctification never works.
My formative years were during the 1960s and early 70s. We were bombarded with all kinds of spiritual guidance. But one of my favorite buzzwords was serendipity. It’s a fun word that even sounds fun when you say it! We were told to look for those events that happened by chance or coincidence. Those moments that would, if we were lucky, be helpful or make us happy.
Serendipity can add fun and joy to an otherwise mundane or ordinary life. But constantly chasing after those moments keeps our focus so scattered we don’t recognize Who is behind those “chance happenings.”
Some people are constantly looking for that spiritual answer to their existence. Some are waiting for a moment that will convince them they are on the right track. Others keep trying a variety of spiritual paths and philosophies, sometimes holding onto several at the same time for fear they might guess wrong or miss out. As long as they are “spiritual” they feel they are on the right track.
This reminds me of the Greeks the Apostle Paul was speaking to at the Areopagus in Athens. He noticed all of the statues and temples and heard all of their arguments and discussions about the meaning of life. He acknowledged that they were very religious (spiritual). But he told them they just didn’t have the right focus on the One True God and what He had accomplished for them through His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 17:22-31).
This scattered focus and constantly searching approach is not helpful either when we are running our business, our organization or our family. Instead of having a clear intent, we are really creating as we go along. Making it up as we go is okay for a leisurely trip, but it’s not much of a life strategy or a leadership model. It’s like building a plane in midair. And it certainly doesn’t instill much confidence in those who are under our guidance.
I’ve been in schools where the curriculum seemed to change without any real goal except that it needed to be better or newer. “This is the latest!” is all we were told. The only problem was “the latest” seemed to arise every other year. We were constantly chasing after that program that we could finally land on but was always just out of sight.
What we need as strong leaders is conviction. C. S. Lewis, a man who embraced his Christian faith later in life, certainly had a wonderful way of expressing his certainty in his beliefs. When we visited Westminster Abbey I was thrilled to see this confident witness in the pavement stone over his grave: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
The Apostle Paul would heartily agree with this proclamation as he spoke of “the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ… the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2Corinthians 4:4,6). We don’t have to guess where our light is coming from, the light that allows us to chart a certain course. That light is from our Lord Jesus that the Psalmist says allows us to actually see light (Psalm 36:9).
Even though Paul didn’t write any of the Gospels, we take his words as “the gospel truth” because they are based on his conviction that Jesus lived, died, and rose again and calls us to be His forgiven children. He never claimed he had power to save himself or recreate himself. He knew that power comes from God alone (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Paul desired for us have this same, rich understanding, so that we aren’t distracted and pulled away by “fine-sounding arguments” (Colossians 2:2-4). He urges us to test everything we hear against the message of grace and the truth of the Gospel. And when we have a clear focus on our leadership guide, our Lord Jesus, we don’t have to worry about where our “words of wisdom” are coming from. And we can watch as He adds a little serendipity into the mix,
If our spiritual connection is secure as leaders, we not only appear confident, we are confident. We are connected to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We have the knowledge and power that comes from being His forgiven children.
We know those coincidences and chance happenings are really our Lord Jesus working in our lives and the lives of those we lead. And we don’t have to think about how we are creating ourselves. Because we have already been created and recreated in the image of our Lord Jesus.
It’s the gospel truth!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,
(First published at Lead Like Jesus October 2021)