As a pastor I sometimes find myself in conversations with people who are looking to find perspective about the issues that have begun to crowd their lives. Just like the people who might be stuck in a traffic jam on the roads in the picture here to the left, it would be helpful to be able to be lifted up over the situation--to be able to see it all--to understand why you're stuck or how soon it will be over. That's what's called perspective.
How does one build perspective in life? How do you come to take the long-view when you feel like you're in a first-rate urgent crisis? How do you change feelings of helplessness and transform them into a perspective of God's providence?
Below are some thoughts about building perspective in your life:
- Read the scriptures. The stories, commands, prophetic writings, is meant to create perspective in life. The deeper you go in reading and understanding the scriptures, the more you should be able to see connections to your own life. In fact, an entire group of books in the Bible--the Wisdom Books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations) is written to build perspective in the life of the person who needs it! Perspective is another term for what the Bible calls Wisdom.
- Find mentors. One of the best places to begin in building perspective in your life is by spending time with a person who has it. While I don't recommend that you build your life around one person you really admire, I do recommend looking for people who seem to have succeeded through some difficult things. This is sometimes a good place to start when you feel like maybe you've not got a good handle on things.
- Fear God. It might seem funny to say it, but the Bible says it too. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). Staying mindful of the fact that God made all things, that he is bigger than you, that you are not God, and that he is in control of your future and your present are ways to apply "the fear of the Lord" to your life. Putting God in the right place in your life is the best place to start to cultivate wise perspective.
- Observe from a different point of view. By spending time with people different than you normally do, by taking time to get to know those who live a different kind of life than you (i.e., culture, generation, socio-economic, etc.), you can find new and helpful perspective. Last night, my family spent time with a family whose life is very different from ours. This experience caused me to think more deeply about many things in my own life--how I raise my children, what my values are, etc. If you live in isolation, the chance to see your perspective grow will shrink.
Well, these are some initial thoughts on how to grow in perspective. What do you do to create perspective in your life?
Labels: accountability, character, Christianity, discipleship, experience, mentors, perspective, the Bible, wisdom