The motivation for our actions ultimately comes down to the fourth God-given principle: Growth.
(If you haven't seen it, we also have a video that illustrates all four principles using a sudoku puzzle. It the link doesn't work for you, copy and paste this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyJbPeLIsr8#GU5U2spHI_4)
(For some reason, people who google life-changing concepts end up with this post from the blog. Please realize "growth" is just one of the four God-given principles. Actually, it is the weakest of the four. Please don't leave this blog without reading about: non-contradiction, contrastive thinking, and causality. Also, this post is more than two years old. At the end of each of these posts are updated explanations of each principles viewed from the perspective of the latest scientific brain research...that is, how each principle is actually hard-wired in your brain and how doing the opposite of each God-given principle leads to physiological damage to the brain!)
Either people are pursuing growth or they aren't...I happen to call the other option "Comfort".
People tend to look at the word "comfort" and abuse causality to "prove" they MUST be pursuing growth. For instance, someone could say, "I'm not comfortable, so I must be pursuing growth."
CS Lewis said it best when he said comfort is the one thing you can't get by pursuing it. If you pursue growth you end up with comfort. If you pursue comfort you get "soft soap" in the beginning and in the end despair.
Comfort believes people can go from BAD to GOOD. Growth realizes that the only way from BAD to GOOD goes through WORSE. The Bible constantly says that we have to go through WORSE to get to GOOD. John 12:24 tells us Jesus said a corn of wheat has to DIE before it bring forth fruit. Paul says we all need to admit we are sinners. The fruitful branch is cut back to bring more fruit. When Jesus did heal people, the "back story" tells us how the person went from BAD to WORSE before Jesus took them to GOOD. Beware of people who promise you BAD to GOOD without going through WORSE...they are unbiblical!
Basically, you will be uncomfortable...you get to choose when.
Do you want to be uncomfortable NOW (pursue growth) and be comfortable in the Long Term?
Do you want to be comfortable NOW (pursue comfort) and be uncomfortable in the Long Term?
The choice is completely up to you.
People change for two reasons: achieve gain or fear of loss.
Very few people change for "achieve gain"...these people are excellent.
These people are growth focused...GROWTH is the "achieve gain" principle.
Growth is uncomfortable, so our flesh wants to be content with what we currently have...it is good enough.
EVERYONE changes with "fear of loss".
The Bible is proof of this.
God ALWAYS approached people FIRST with an "achieve gain" mentality...with a principle...with a benefit.
When people chose not to respond, God went to "fear of loss"...with a law...with a penalty.
Either way, you will be uncomfortable, but you choose whether it is to achieve gain or prevent loss.
So pursuit of comfort (CAUSE) does not RESULT in comfort in the Long Term. Pursuit of growth results in discomfort in the short term and comfort in the Long Term.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth no fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (John 15:1-2)
The goal is growth...and even when we do grow, God is going to cut us back! God is going to make us uncomfortable! WHY? So we can GROW MORE!!! This is the opposite of the way man thinks!
Also, people are pursing growth or comfort simultaneously in many areas of their life. However, the more areas in which a person pursues comfort, the more despair they will have in their life. Personally, I try to narrow the discussion down to an area. I try to stay away from saying someone is ALL about comfort while someone else is ALL about growth...these people don't exist.
Each of us is pursuing comfort in at least one area of our life. How do we detect it?
It is the area where we look comparatively and try to prove our point.
It is the area where we try to live with contradictions.
It is the area where we want to believe things are random or unknowable.
There is nothing wrong with finding out you are pursuing comfort...the issue is the response. When a person discovers they are pursuing comfort in an area of their life:
Do they embrace causality and look contrastively in order to remove contradictions?
Or do they embrace randomness and come up with excuses why the issue is really unknowable in order to remain comparative and try to live with contradictions?
Here is an analogy:
When we look at one area of a person's life, I like to see the person on a path. One way is slightly downhill, but looks level. It slowly becomes increasingly more downhill until it reaches a severe drop like a slide. The other way is looking up at a slide that becomes less steep immediately after the slide.
So the path is made up of segments that get increasingly steep going downhill (or less steep going uphill), only to start all over again. Going downhill leads to a valley where the person has less of a view and experiences more darkness. Going uphill leads to a bigger view and more light.
First of all, let me state that it is possible to sit down on the path and just rest...recharge, heal. There is nothing wrong with this...but I wouldn't call this comfort. We all have a need to make progress...one way or the other.
It is easy to walk downhill...in fact, it gets easier over time until you reach the decision point where you slide all the way to the bottom of a segment. When this happens, almost everyone knows they are going the wrong way and need to go back up the steep face to get back to where they were. However, it is a real pain to climb up this steep face...and it's real easy to convince one's self that going down the path that now appears to be level could randomly result in them getting back to where they were...but it never does.
One of the things I've realized in the past two years is you can't force anyone to go uphill. You can't carry them uphill, it is too steep. If people don't want to go up the steep face, there is no way you can make them.
Actually, there are only three ways up the steep face.
First, you can do it all by yourself. You can try all sorts of things to find your own way up.
Second, you can work together with others to go up the face.
Third, you can get insight from others who have already made it up the face.
The goal is progress..making it up the hill. What is interesting to me is some people think there is NO value in making it up the hill UNLESS they do it completely by themselves. Actually, there is NOTHING wrong with this mentality in and of itself. HOWEVER, if this person tries to help ANYONE else make it up the hill, the "do it yourselfer" is a hypocrite. Why would they expect/require someone to take help when they themselves won't take help?
Finally, I have seen people who say, "You know, there will ALWAYS be another hill. Isn't it enough to stand in awe of this hill? Don't you want to sit and discuss this hill? I'm really all about appreciating this hill. Why do you need to go up it?"
The problem is they are looking at a mound. The next hill is MORE amazing...in fact, each hill is MORE rich, wonderful, deep, and worthy of discussion. If these peopel are really about appreciating the mystery of a hill, why don't they progress to a hill that is barely understood, instead of a mound stepped over by thousands of years of humanity?
You can’t gain in the short term and the long term. A lot of bad science occurs when people want a positive result without putting in the work. You either pay in the short term and gain in the long term or you gain in the short term and pay in the long term. The former situation is someone pursuing growth. The latter situation is someone pursuing comfort. A person pursuing comfort wants to be correct right now.
In reality, everyone is either pursuing growth or comfort. People who pursue comfort want to be right, right now. They want to avoid anything that doesn’t make them feel good immediately. In fact, they don’t want to have any conflict at all. In groups, their goal is for everyone to get along.
People who pursue growth want to be right in the future. Growth is painful. They are willing to go through short-term pain in return for more knowledge. They will even embrace conflict because they know this is the only way to prove truth. When we pursue comfort, we lose our objectivity. When we pursue growth, we gain it.
It’s very easy to determine whether a person is pursuing growth or comfort: watch how they handle a contradiction. The person pursuing comfort will fight for the contradiction to exist, even though it proves he is wrong. In fact, he almost craves the contradiction because it gives him a reason NOT to think. He may even say, “See, it doesn’t make sense. It can’t be understood so I don’t have to try.”
The person pursuing growth sees a contradiction as an opportunity to learn. It is an opportunity to become more right. This person will immediately focus on his assumptions and try to figure out which ones are incorrect. As we saw with the first principle (Contrastive), determining what isn’t true is something we can do and know for sure. Remember, as humans, all we know for sure is what isn’t right.
Pursuing growth and thinking contrastively are God’s way of thinking. However, we have our own way of thinking. Now we see why God’s ways are so much higher than our own. This is not easy to do. It doesn’t come naturally because it is not in our nature, so we have to do it intentionally.
I believe the "flesh" mentioned in the Bible refers to the opposite of these four principles. We express our will to God that we want to take direction from Him when we choose to act towards these four principles and against the flesh.
We need to look at the Big Picture and Long Term instead of the moment. For example, in Genesis when Joseph was in jail, was this a good thing or a bad thing? Those who confine themselves to the moment (short-term) believe this was a bad thing. Those who look at the Big Picture and Long Term realize this was a good thing because it led to Joseph’s elevation in Egypt and Israel’s salvation.
Traditionalists avoid changing their beliefs. Post moderns avoid stating their beliefs. Both of these philosophies are focused on the short term result. Moderns intentionally put themselves through this process on a continuous basis in order to be more correct in the long term.
(This post is two years old. In the summer of 2008, I gave a perspective on this principle as it relates to what physiologically happens in the brain in this post.)