Deeper-Wider: To be and to do…

Posted by on Jan 1, 2023 in Blog | 4 comments

stack of stones

You might know that I am very involved with the Carey Group and wearing my AVENIR hat, helped devise their vision document Carey 2026. It’s framed around the theme “Deeper Foundations – Widening Reach” or more simply, “Deeper-Wider” – a wonderful refrain for a missional movement like Carey. In an age when many are content with shallow slogans and triumphalist grandstanding, Carey has committed itself to becoming a reflective movement, unafraid to dig ever deeper into the Christian faith on which it is founded. At the same time it has signed up to widen its reach, not for the sake of numbers, but for the genuine transformation which comes when people are touched by the love of God.

While deeper-wider works well for Carey, it struck me that it could also provide a helpful structure for readers of this blog as we enter a new year. It’s the time for goal setting and perhaps you have already come up with a stretching, possibly exhausting list. How many of you plan to lose weight, get fitter, read more… Nothing wrong with targets like that (even if they remain unchanged and unmet year after year), though let’s face it, they become a little jaded with time.

How about shifting focus this year, and listing your aspirations under the headings of “deeper-wider”? They are not unrelated. We often have to dig more deeply into ourselves and our faith to be able to manage a wider reach. There is an old saying that “it takes a steady hand to hold a full cup” and many want the benefits of a wide reach without first doing the deep inner work this requires. While some think effective leadership is primarily about skills, “deeper” reminds us that substance is every bit as important. We need to have something to offer, and this comes from within. As Jesus notes in Matt 12:34, ultimately “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” – or what is within, becomes obvious on the outside.

We could frame this a little differently and ask “who must we be (or who must we become) in order to…” Too often we go straight to the action button without thinking of the character needed for the recognition or fame we hope will come our way. External goals cannot compensate for an internal void. In an era where we have been alerted to the moral failings of far too many of our leaders, we need to recognise this.

My question to you is simply this: What steps will you take to become a deeper person by the end of this year?

Perhaps it will require you to meditate a little more, slowly chewing over great truths from God’s Word so that they become a part of who you are. Perhaps a spiritual retreat would help you refocus. Or how about facing some of your inner demons that you have put in the too hard basket for too long? Or why not hold the long overdue conversation where you might hear some things you would rather not have to think about? Committing to personal growth is never easy, but is made possible when we remember the promise of Jesus, “I am with you always”. Jesus is present not to condemn, but to help us to transform.

Be curious as you document your “wider” list. Why do you hope to achieve each item? If it is simply so that people think you are amazing, go back to your “deeper” exercises.

Motivation most commonly flows from one of four sources: fear, desire, duty or love.

We do many things because we fear what will happen if we don’t (I would lose my job if I said that, and then I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills). More commonly we do things because we hope they will benefit us and meet our desire for fame, success and popularity. We want other to think well of us. We want to be the person other people envy. Then there are times when we do things from duty – we might have an obligation to our children, our family or our profession. This could be appropriate, but perhaps means we do things a little resentfully, with our heart not fully in it. Ideally we do things from love. 1 John 4:19 puts it simply, “we love because God first loved us”. Changed inwardly by the love of God, we start to change outwardly as well, doing things not because we have to, but because we can, and we want to, and love invites us to.

My second question is then, is your wider list shaped by love?

And that’s it…

Question 1: What steps will you take to become a deeper person by the end of this year?

Question 2: Is your wider list shaped by love?

Here’s to a deeper and wider year.

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Permission is granted to reproduce post with acknowledgment or forward to any who might find it helpful.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks Brian,
    This is really good!

    • Thanks Col. Hope this is both a deeper and a wider year for you and your family.

  2. Good thoughts Brian. I am reflecting on what this year brings and wanting to steer clear of the old resolutions. It does seem come back to character most of the time.

    • Character sure is more difficult to work on. I’m aiming to be better at noticing small things that I usually take for granted and being grateful for them. Hope it’s a wonderful year for you.

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