“When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.”
We are looking at four things we can do to address the growing discontent and division in our nation:
- Rediscovery of Truth.
- Reformation of the Christian community.
- Redirection of the human spirit.
- Recommitment to the structures of freedom.
Today we consider #3: Redirection of the human spirit
National culture is affected by the character of its leaders and its citizens. When a nation or a city has a critical mass of wise and responsible people, it is a blessing and the nation prospers. But when there is a preponderance of people who speak and act foolishly, a nation will suffer.
We have a crisis of leadership in America, and we also have a crisis of citizenship. As Solomon says, “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.” There is simply too much foolishness in our society, and it is growing. The Greek philosopher Plato said it this way: “A city is what it is because it’s citizens are who they are.”
We are living in an era of the imperial self. People have always been self-centered, but it has become socially normative to be radically self-centered. Many believe they have the mandate to create their own “truth” and to establish their own standards of right and wrong.
We need repentance in our country, renewal in our culture, and revival in our communities. But it begins with each of us personally. In order for American society to operate effectively, we as citizens must embrace the personal habits and cultural conditions that have been at the heart of our country since its founding. Unfortunately, we are drifting away from those individual habits and community norms; as a result, our society is at risk.
We need a renewal of citizenship and leadership in every sector of American culture. The human spirit in our nation needs to be redirected from selfish interest to personal responsibility. We need to teach and coach The R Factor (or something like it) throughout the nation. The R Factor is not the only skillset we need, but it is foundational. Based on E+R=O, the core message is personal responsibility. It also tracks with the wisdom taught in the book of Proverbs.
E+R=O is a mindset first and a skillset second. Here is The R Factor mindset:
I do not control Events
Every day I will experience a variety of events that will challenge me. I have the power to influence events and situations, but I do not control them. There will always be things outside my control that I will have to deal with.
My Response is my choice
I am responsible for my decisions and my behavior. Events will have an impact on me, but they do not choose for me. I take ownership of all my choices and actions, regardless of circumstance. I do not equate having to make a difficult choice with not having a choice. I always have a choice. Always.
I earn Outcomes by the quality of my Response
The outcomes I get are determined by the response I choose. If I want a better outcome, I must choose a better response. What I do (or don’t do) makes a difference. I accept that I will not always get the outcome I want in every situation. Many outcomes, especially important ones, require significant time, effort, and energy to achieve.
E+R=O is the way life works
E+R=O is the cause-and-effect nature of the world in which I live. My job is to get good at it. People I interact with may not understand or practice The R Factor, but I will. I know that consistently managing the R will, over time, result in better outcomes for me and those around me.
It isn’t magic. It is a skillset that must be taught and learned. It equips people with the mindset and skillset to take ownership of their attitude and action. It teaches the disciplines of situational awareness and self-awareness. It reorients people away from blaming and complaining, and redirects them toward solutions and productive action.
What would happen if Americans throughout our nation adopted this mindset and the skillset that comes with it? What would happen if young people were taught E+R=O in school? If it was reinforced in college? What would happen if politicians adopted and practiced E+R=O?
Consider these four verses from Proverbs chapter 14. They speak to the need for discipline and personal responsibility. It is a teachable, learnable skill.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” (Proverbs 14.8)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14.12)
“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14.15)
“One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” (Proverbs 14.16)
Responsible people pay careful attention to themselves and to the path they are following. They ask: Am I on the right path? “He discerns his way” (Proverbs 14.8). Am I doing the things the path requires? “He gives thoughts to his steps” (Proverbs 14.15).
There is much more that can be said, but I will stop there for now. The bottom line is that responsibility can be taught. I believe we are called by God to model and teach the core disciplines of personal responsibility … not just within the church, but also in the community.
Trust God and do the work. E+R=O