Stephen Covey once observed, “The solutions to our problems are and always will be based upon universal, timeless, self-evident principles common to every enduring, prospering society throughout history.” Mission statements and life principles provide us with a compass for direction in our decision making. Again, Covey suggests, “If you have a family mission statement that clarifies what your purpose is, then you use that as the criterion by which you make the decisions.”
A few years ago, I decided to write down my guiding principles or mission statements for living. I have been following these guiding principles, based on the Scriptures and Bowen Family Systems Theory, for several years now but never made an effort until now to record them in writing. This exercise has forced me to carefully reflect upon my internal compass and guidance system. It prevents me from just drifting in life or being bounced about by the emotionality of others without careful reflection on the decisions I make and the actions I take. Recording these principles in writing has provided me with a useful reference I can consult when I am feeling anxious because some group, (i.e., family, friends, church or annual conference) is pressuring me to conform for the sake of conformity. More importantly, these principles help provide me with an opportunity to separate my intellectual reflection from my emotions and the emotions of others so that I can make careful, reasoned decisions instead of irrational, emotionally driven decisions. I would strongly encourage you to adopt or develop a mission statement of life principles that will guide your decision making in life whether it’s the Golden Rule, the Two Great Commandments or something else. Here are the principles that I recorded that provide my guidance system in life. Each of these principles has some basis in the scriptures. I am not suggesting you adopt these but that you develop your own life principles or mission statement. I believe such an exercise at self-reflection can provide a powerful way of insuring that we are reflectively and responsibly making decisions that are consistent rather than bouncing around like a ping-pong ball by the emotionality of the moment.
My Life Principles
- I cannot change anyone else. I can only change myself (Luke 6:42).
- I am powerless to change myself apart from the transformative grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-4).
- I am determined, by the power of Jesus Christ, to manage my anxiety, supported by the spiritual resources of prayer, scriptural study, spiritual self-examination and the other spiritual disciplines (Phil. 4:6, 13).
- Managing my anxiety (Matt. 6:34, 1 Peter 5:7) means:
- I not behave in reactive ways to stress or anxiety (Eph. 4:31-32).
- I not overfunction for others by doing for them what they can do for themselves (Matt. 0:14; Rom. 14:4; 1 Thess. 4:11) or
- Underfunction by allowing others to do for me what I can do for myself (1Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:10).
- I attempt to differentiate myself by making “I” statements (1 Cor. 16:13).
- I not allow myself to be fused or absorbed in the emotionality of the systems around me, yet remain connected to them, by respecting and maintaining healthy boundaries (1 Thess. 4:11).
- I refrain from triangulation when I have a problem or conflict with others but instead go directly to the person with whom I have an issue and “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
- When I am triangled with others, I keep love at the center, by remaining connected with both sides of the triangle (Rom. 13:8; 1 Cor. 16:14; 1 Pet. 4:8).
- I will strive to be, by the grace of Christ, an example of emotional and spiritual maturity to others (Matt. 5:48; 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7; 1 Peter 5:3).
- I will be a peacemaker, through the peace of Christ by living at peace with God, with all people and being at peace with myself and sharing the peace of Christ through my behavior at all times, in all my relationships (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:8; 14:19; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Tim. 2:2; Titus 3:2; Hebrews 12:14; James 3:18; 1 Peter 3:11).
- I will practice these personal principles with Jesus as my example and sustainer (John 13:15; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Peter 5:3, John 15:5).
O God, help us to be guided by your principles and your Spirit and not the emotionality of others or the anxiety of the moment. Help us to be centered in Your Son Jesus who is our source of all Peace, Love and Truth. This we ask in the name of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
- What biblical principles guide your life?
- Why is it important for us to have such principles? What generally happens when we have no such principles for guidance?
- What passage or passages in scripture are important for your life? Why?
- How does being centered in Christ empower you to live out biblical principles in the world?