This last year, I discovered a blog called The Art of Manliness. While some of the articles on the blog are definitely tongue-in-cheek, many of them are absolutely excellent. It was this blog that caused me to start journaling, and it was a post on this blog that gave me the idea to write a letter to my dad, which I think was one of the best self-realization projects I ever took on.
This week there was a post entitled “Manliness Doesn’t Just Happen,” in which the owner of the blog, Brett McKay, made the argument that a man cannot be the best version of himself simply by living his life without thinking about it. To be the best version of oneself, man or woman, one must engage not just in action, but also in contemplation.
Contemplation. I think that is an important key to improving one’s self, no matter the area in which one wants to improve. If your goal is to become a better basketball player, you will not only practice basketball, but you will also engage in contemplation. You will consider what aspects of you game need the most work, what you can do to improve them, and how you will track your progress. It makes so much sense, that you are probably thinking “well duh” in your head right now.
So how come we often don’t apply this principle to our spiritual lives?
Maybe I’m the only one that has this problem, but I know there have been many times in my life where I did not have a plan for improving my spiritual life, because I never took the time to spend contemplating improving my spiritual life. Not that I didn’t think about spiritual things, I did. But I allowed my quest for spiritual improvement to be guided completely by the insights that I would gain here and there from my reading or sermons. I did not have an overarching “game plan” that the things I discovered fit into, but let each discovery be the totality of my improvement for a time, and then forgot about it as I moved to the next discovery. I would have never tried to use such a haphazard approach to increase my bench press, but somehow I thought that it was sufficient to take my spiritual life to the next level.
I now have a “game plan,” and I can say unequivocally that it has made a difference. This blog is part of that game plan: a place for me to engage in contemplation by expressing my thoughts “on paper.”
Last week, as I was contemplating by writing, I wrote a post that I knew some people wouldn’t like. It was tempting to just not post it, but I knew that I had to express the thoughts that God had impressed upon me. I tried to change it, so that people would be less likely to find it offensive, but I could not find a way to do that without diminishing from the power of the message. My game plan as it concerns this blog helped make it clear what I had to do, and I published the post. If I did not have a game plan, I think that I would have saved it as a file on my computer where it would have offended no one, made no one uncomfortable, and had absolutely no effect on anyone who might have benefited from its message.
And I hope this blog not only is the voice of my contemplation, but also causes others to contemplate, and to maybe see things in a light they never saw them before. Take some time today to contemplate your quest for spiritual improvement. Make a game plan. And then go out and follow that game plan, using it as a guide to make improvements you otherwise wouldn’t.
If my blog helps you in your contemplative efforts, or if there is some other resource that I ought to know about, let me know in the comments. I love finding out that I’m not the only one who reads this thing.