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The World We Have and the World We Want to Have

By March 31, 2021Church, Leadership

Like many other things, I did not choose to be a Cubs fan. It chose me. Had I been born in Los Angeles or New York City, there’s a good chance I would have been a life-long Dodgers or Yankees fan. But, by the mercy of God, I arrived at St. Francis Hospital on a November’s day in Peoria, IL, and didn’t leave again until I went away to college.

I had other childhood friends, even a few of my own brothers — born at the same hospital — who became (of all things) Cardinal fans! To be fair, Central Illinois is sort of the baseball version of the Mason-Dixon line in Illinois. Some become Cubs fans, others grope in the darkness.

As I look back over the factors that shaped my life, I have to admit I had zero control over many of them:

  • I was born in 1969 instead of 1699. Undoubtedly, those three hundred years made quite a bit of difference in how I experienced life. It also meant I went through elementary school during the 1970’s instead of the 1950’s.
  • I was born and raised in Peoria, IL, not Calcutta, India, or Bel Air, CA. Peoria was and is a middle class community, solidly midwestern, and unpretentious. I was not raised in extreme poverty as are millions of people. Nor was I born into extreme wealth.
  • I was born the youngest of five brothers. I did not get to vote on whether or not I should have sisters. I also did not choose to have both of my parents die while I was in my twenties.

In short, we cannot choose the world we are born into. That world, whether you entered it in 1969 or 2021, was already in motion well before you arrived. This world that we are born into had pre-existing conditions that would later impact and influence us – for better and worse. Educational opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse, disease, wealth and poverty, racism, political systems, and very different religious options. You had as much control over being born an American or Guatemalan as you did whether your parents would be Catholic or Hindu.

We have the world we are born into. As we grow older, we begin to recognize it as the world we have — with all its faults and flaws, potential and problems. It doesn’t take us very long to see the brokenness. We experience it as children, even if we don’t have the academic words to describe it. With the advent of television and the internet, we are connected in real-time to tragedies around the globe. Breaking news seems to be continually breaking without end.

There is a part of each of us, however, that wants the world to be a better place. This is not simply a religious reflex; it is a human desire, true across nationalities, languages, and cultures. We want to live in a world where every person has enough to eat. We want every child to have an opportunity to succeed. We don’t want a world where mass shootings become normal, where violence is an acceptable answer to the smallest disagreements.

There is the world we have and the world we want to have. They are not always the same. At times, those two worlds overlap and intersect. When they do, we have a sense that this is the way it should be. Then there are those other times. Those times when our two worlds — the one we have and the one we want to have — seem infinitely apart.

At any given, we hold both of these worlds in tension. But here’s the key: We cannot simply hope for a better world and wait for it to magically appear. That’s as foolish as thinking that if we ignore the harshness of the world we are born into it will somehow go away on its own.

We can choose.

We can choose to accept and tolerate the world as it is. Or, we can choose the world we want to live in and get busy doing our part to see it happen.

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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