Three Questions

Three Questions (1,241)

August 17th, 2011

· Is it affordable?

· Is it able to be done?

· Is it important?

These are the three questions that constitute the working agenda for all of life’s little endeavors. They are also listed in the order that we, as a nation, have begun to view things in our pursuit of maintaining a sense of solvency. Primary in the thinking of the American populace is the question of finance and affordability.

I experienced it last night when I was in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, and I talked to two fine teachers who instruct students in music in the local school system. There have been so many cut-backs that this pair of dynamic educators find themselves nearly overwhelmed by the work to be done and the lack of money to achieve it. Why? Because we have decided almost universally as a nation, that music is not essential to the curriculum. We can’t afford it.

I remember those were the words I always hated to hear from my parents whenever I suggested we go do something. I knew when they used that particular line of thinking, it was fruitless to beg or push to gain approval. Finance stymied my parents, and in candor, it tempts to keep my feet in concrete as well.

So because we are so frightened of money we rarely even get to the second question, which is: can it be done? And when we do actually achieve the monumental progress of asking this particular inquiry, we frequently lack the honesty to get a truthful assessment. Too often we bounce between insecurity (“I don’t think I can do this…”) and pride (“No problem. Bring it on.”)

So the reason people are often afraid to do things is that they are overly confident about their abilities and have landed flat on their faces—usually in some sort of financial disaster. Or they timidly pursue the goal, failing to sprout the confidence to give it a good college try. So because we’re afraid of money and we are not candid about our true abilities, we rarely get to the third question—“is it important?”

In my mind’s eye, this third question should be the first—because even if we can’t afford to do something, the act of acknowledging its important gives us the impetus to come back to it and do it right on another day. Do we even know anymore what is truly important?

To me, important has two parts: (1) Will it help? and (2) Will it last?

For instance, giving a cash donation to someone who is financially strapped can be a charitable action—unless that person has no job and no prospects of getting one. You may feel like you’re helping but the help won’t last because the rent will come due again next month, and he will be in an equally destitute situation. But paying the rent for someone who has just gotten a job, allowing him a grace period to get on his feet can be a stroke of genius. In attempting to help, there must always be a well-thought-out plan of seeing assistance turn into a lasting bonanza of blessing.

The next thing I think we should assess after determining what is important is “can it be done?” I think there are two parts to this: (1) Does the ability exist, and (2) Is the passion available? Ability is a wonderful thing, but human beings don’t run solely on ability. We are fueled by passion. If we are not passionate about a mission, our abilities will be greatly inhibited, if not eliminated.

People often make suggestions to me about what they think I should do—making the observations based on how they view my ability. I often agree with them that my ability does give me the range to achieve what they suggest, but honestly, I generally have no passion for it and I know “ability” will not carry me through the hour of difficulty, so I know it’s not right for me.

And then, after we find out what’s important—in other words, what will help AND have a lasting quality, we should next assess what we can do. Does the ability exist? Is the ability linked with enough passion to see it through to the end?

It is only then that we should ask the final question: can we afford this? Because quite honestly, if it’s not important, I don’t really care if we have the bucks for it. And truthfully, if it can’t be done with ability and passion, money is just a way to taunt us about our mediocrity.

No—the last thing we should assess is whether we can afford it. That has two parts also: (1) Are there funds available? and (2) Is there energy in the direction of raising more funds if we find ourselves insufficient?

Money needs a mommy and a daddy. The daddy is an existing bank account and the mommy is the housekeeper who can clean all the change out of the couch cushions. It is much easier to raise money when you know you can do something and deep in your soul you have settled the importance of it.

This is the failure in our American system in this particular juncture of history. We are trying to decide what we can afford, while negatively viewing what we can do and erroneously and carelessly dismissing what is important. Are we paying the price? Yes. And the result of being short-sighted is constantly running into walls.

There are three questions in life, and the order with which you ask them is very crucial to the outcome of your productivity. If you wonder if you can do anything, you will always walk away sadly—feeling inadequate. If you’re constantly counting your money to see if you can afford something, you will dismiss quality opportunities for fear of losing your handful of cash.

No, I must be honest with you. We must first find out what is important—what will help in the short term but also has an exit strategy for being lasting—and then evaluate what we can do with our ability, using the emotion of our passion and finally, sit down as intelligent, genuine fellows, count our funds and ascertain the energy we possess to raise more. Without this particular lineup of teammates, it is difficult to win the game.

So what is your order? Are you afraid that you don’t have enough talent to pull something off? Does money terrify you? Are you startled by the lack of concern over what is really important?

Pursuing importance in life is not idealism. It is survival. It is why we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” knowing that “all these other things will be added unto us.” It is why “faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”

Without it, God could not have looked on a world that was without form and void and said, “Let there be light.”

Published in: on August 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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