Friday, March 26, 2010

The Law of Sowing & Reaping...

I am in the process of reading BOUNDARIES written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. In Chapter 5, they list and describe what they call, "Ten Laws of Boundaries". The first of the ten is, "The Law of Sowing and Reaping" and it is summarized as "The law of cause and effect". The biblical basis is Galatians 6:7, "Don't be misled--you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant." Cloud and Townsend insist that the law is not punishment by God but rather a statement of fact about how things operate in this world. Just as gravity causes things to fall to the Earth, "Sowing and Reaping" causes actions to have consequences. They note however that sometimes, "people don't reap what they sow, because someone else steps in and reaps the consequences for them". This "rescuing" allows an irresponsible person to dodge the consequences of his behavior and thus to continue unchecked with problem behavior. They don't change their behavior because there few if any consequences. There is not enough pain to cause a change. Those who continually rescue others are called codependent. They find their esteem in being needed by irresponsible people. Their perceived purpose in life is cleaning up the messes caused by others. This type of codependent living is not healthy nor is it fulfilling for anyone. I've noticed that as a pastor I have some excellent codependent tendencies. It hurts to see others face the consequences of their behavior and I am greatly tempted at times to step in and rescue them. The reality of my "helping" is that I short-circuit the purposes of God to bring real and lasting change through consequential pain. I'm not really helping. A better alternative to rescuing is to simply be present and truthful--to walk with someone to the electric chair--without sitting in it for them. A very good friend of mine has been doing this with me for years. In fact, the analogy of the electric chair is one that he has shared with me. We can walk with people through their dark consequences and provide comfort for them without removing the sting of the consequence (and the learning curve that comes with it). A true friend would never want to remove the remedy (no matter how painful) that cures a fatal illness. Actions need consequences. Irresponsible behavior needs pain. Pastors need boundaries.

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