SPIRITUAL TRAINING FOR EXECUTIVES
WHAT WE WANT TO LEARN & PRACTICE What we want to learn and practice this week is that our Will is our executive faculty. Will is the spiritual power that directs. We are on God's "Board of Directors." Will is one of the most powerful abilities we have when it is expressive of God's will. We will learn how this process of "not my will but Thine be done" works.
I AM THE CEO OF MY LIFE
I am the CEO of my life. God has chosen and placed me in the position of Chief Executive Officer, the C.E.O. over my life. I am in a Divine Partnership in the Universal Incorporation of All Good. All the joy, love, peace, prosperity, health, beauty and freedom in the entire Universe is mine. It is God's will of good for me. I have executive power over how God's good is managed and allocated in my life. My will is my executive power. "I will demonstrate better health. I will make it through school. I will do my job well. I will get places on time. I will be a good giver and receiver. I will give others the same freedom I desire for myself. I will rejoice in the good that comes to others as well as to myself."
WILL AND UNDERSTANDING MUST GO TOGETHER
Will and understanding must go together. Charles Fillmore says in the book Christian Healing, "To strengthen the will, and at the same time to discipline it along right lines, requires an understanding nothing less than divine. But we can balance our will and our understanding; when we do this, we will always do the right thing at the right time. Nearly every mistake is the result of will's acting without the cooperation of its brother/sister, understanding."a
I AM WILLING TO DO THAT WHICH GOD WOULD HAVE ME DO. GOD IS MY INSTANT, CONSTANT HELP AND SUPPLY
I am willing to do that which God would have me do. God is my instant, constant help and supply.
Write that down: I am willing to do that which God would have me do. God is my instant, constant help and supply.
Will without good understanding often results in bossiness, a domineering manner, rigidity, a dictator personality, and persecution of self and others. Saul of Tarsus is a classic example of a negative will that was transformed into a positive, God-affirming one.
Saul was a domineering, self-righteous, persecuting will power. He badgered the early followers of Jesus and participated in the stoning of Stephen. He used his executive power with an "I'll show you who's boss!" mentality. This is a negative use of the power of will. (Being in a position of responsibility, we have to give direction, correction and require accountability, but Saul was persecuting and punishing.) Saul encountered the Christ on the road to Damascus, and he became a new man, Paul. Paul had the will to help, befriend, organize, serve, love and heal in the name of Jesus Christ. His will was just as strong, but now it was accompanied by love and understanding. Paul was tireless, indomitable, utterly devoted to the will and work of the Christ, as he interpreted that work.
WILL IS NOT TO BE BROKEN OR EVEN LESSENED
Will is not to be broken or even lessened. In the book Twelve Powers of Man, Charles Fillmore says, "We do not need less will; we need more understanding."b Understanding shows us that God stands behind and under all things and us all the time. The divine will is always our highest good.
In Christian Healing Mr. Fillmore also writes, "How shall we bring the divine will to bear? By understanding; by appropriating universal wisdom; by affirming, 'not my will, but Thine be done.' God is potential, unformed will; we are manifest God will, or good will. When we link our will with the principal or divine force, we have superior executive capacity. We swiftly bring forth faculties that, under the slow action of human personality, would take ages to develop."c
THE DISCIPLE MATTHEW PORTRAYS THE POWER OF WILL
The disciple Matthew portrays the Power of Will. Suné Richards writes: "Like most of the disciples, Matthew - at one time called Levi the son of Alphaeus - was a native of Galilee. A publican or tax-collector, and a money changer, Matthew was a well-educated and a wealthy man who had more worldly goods to give up than some of the other disciples."d
As a tax collector, Matthew could have been one of the local inhabitants who bid for the office, agreeing to pay Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, a certain sum in advance; any money collected over that amount went into his own pocket. Understandably, tax collectors were widely despised, not only because they at least indirectly served the oppressors of the Jews, the Romans, but also because they made a profit by adding their own charges to the established levies. They were classified as unclean individuals with whom pious Jews could not associate.
Matthew seemed like unlikely material for a disciple, but Jesus in his great wisdom, looked into the heart of a man called 'Levi' and said: 'Follow me'... and the man we know as 'Matthew' arose, abandoned all that he had and followed Jesus. Matthew is noted for his interest and determination in proving Jesus to be the true 'Messiah' promised by Hebrew prophets."
In the regeneration, humankind controls, directs, teaches, and disciplines the faculties of his mind. To do this he must in a measure withdraw from the mercenary occupations and the material ambitions that have absorbed his time and attention. Levi, afterward called Matthew, willingly gave up his money-getting and followed Jesus.
The disciples of Jesus "left all and followed him". This is the process of giving yourself wholly to God. Peter was afraid that they had made a mistake, and he received this assurance from Jesus: (Mark 10:29-30) "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age--houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, ..."e This is a promise that is always fulfilled where there is a whole-hearted surrender of the old life and a full absorption into the new.
No one ever hears a devoted Christian worker express disappointment or regret over anything that he has given up in the worldly life. On the contrary there is rejoicing as each human link is severed, because the new relation in Christ is deeper and stronger than the human relation and because love is increased, and real possessions are multiplied.
The will always enters into man's decisions. The will makes the final choice to give up all and follow Jesus. This lesson on the surrendering of the old ideas and conditions, that the greater increase of good may come into one's life, is based on Matthew because Matthew represents the will. The will has been given over to the thought of accumulation by imposition on external resources (tax-gatherer). In the regeneration the will is converted and is taught by prayer and meditation how to stabilize the universal substance. Under the spiritual law the will becomes a producer instead of a parasite. When the individual will has become a disciple of the Christ, spiritual I AM, the schooling of the person begins.
Let me wrap up today by telling you a story:
The young pilgrim from faraway America crept into the stone temple at twilight, just as the first flight of bats stirred in the belfries. Smoky, jasmine scented air filled the dim chamber, the afterglow of a day's incense sticks. But he paid no attention to the sounds or smells, because he knew he had only a few minutes to complete his mission.
At the far end of the alcove, beneath a horned goddess, an old monk sat on a reed mat. He was bald and paper-thin, with a face like sun-dried leather. His eyes, half-closed, never wavered from their steady, straight-ahead gaze, but a faint smile played on his lips. If the American did not ask the guru his questions in the next moment or two, the tides of meditation would carry the old one away.
The American bowed. "Master, I am seeking guidance."
"That is a mistake," he said. "When you need guidance, it will seek you."
"May I ask one question?"
"If you can."
"What is the meaning of life?" He expected the guru to balk or refuse to answer directly, so the quick response startled the young American.
The guru said, "Enjoy yourself. Pay the rent. Leave something good."
"Excuse me?", the American said.
Too late. His body remained, but the saint was gone, escaping into the realms of Divine-human play. The faint smile lingered.
Walking back from the temple in the darkness at the edge of the city, he cursed himself for being so foolish as to think a venerable guru would divulge the secrets of a life's meditation to an outsider in an instant. He returned to his hotel, showered and changed clothes, and went out for the evening. He was unaware that the guru had done just that.
Let me explain:
1) Enjoy yourself. Despite what our friends from the "life-is-a-vale-of-sorrow" school might say, we are put here to enjoy the world and its beauty, including the beauty and pleasure of human companionship. To be a person of God does not mean to deny the glories of being human. Rather, God brings us forth in this life as human for the express purpose of being the best human we can be. That doesn't require suffering, self-inflicted misery, or a life of self-denial. A balanced life allows pleasure and self-discipline in proper proportions, although each person will have to find the balance that is right for them.
2) Pay the rent. James D. Glasse, president of Lancaster Theological Seminary, used to say to ministers-in-training, "Pay the rent, early in the week."f By that he meant for us to do the things we were required to do first, then we could be free to work on our creative projects. To pay the rent means meeting our obligations in life, being responsible citizens and trustworthy business and professional people, and keeping our promises. It means making a worthwhile contribution to society.
3) Leave something good. Emerson said that the best thing we can do in life is to work at something which will outlast us. Make the world a better place because you lived here awhile. Even in a miniscule way, leave something good behind.
So... What about loving God and neighbor? What about reaching spiritual heights through meditation, prayer, and study?
That's good, too. But, as Andrew Harvey said, "The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may."g And it seems the "will of God" has placed us in this world with opportunities and obligations. We can serve the spiritual through honorably discharging the temporal.
Twenty-eight centuries ago, the prophet Micah asked the people of Israel,
"What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"h
So... Enjoy yourself. Pay the rent. Leave something good. It's a simple program all of us can follow.
aChristian Healing Charles Fillmore, Unity Books
bTwelve Powers of Man, Charles Fillmore
cChristian Healing Charles Fillmore, Unity Books
fJames D. Glasse, president of Lancaster Theological Seminary