“One of the greatest temptations in the Christian life is to bifurcate the ‘spiritual’ from the material, to begin thinking that only certain parts of our lives have eternal significance.” –Douglas Moo
In an article for Forbes, Ryan Blair wrote: “As a young entrepreneur I often get asked this question: ‘How do you deal with ____________ (insert word here: pressure, people, balance, challenges, family, etc.)?’ What they’re really asking is, ‘How do you deal with all these things all at once?.’”
Blair’s answer was five-fold
- Compartmentalize it. Isolate the issue from all the other challenges you are dealing with.
- Apply extreme focus on each compartment, but only for a short period of time.
- Move forward in incremental steps. And once you see progress…
- Close the compartment and open the next one.
- Say “no” to things that don’t deserve a compartment.
Of course, the question Blair was asked and the answer he provided are not unique to entrepreneurs. All of us get overwhelmed at one time or another. In those moments, compartmentalization can be of great help.
That said, the practice can have a negative side as well. Psychologically speaking, compartmentalization can be a way to avoid “the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.” For example, a person might believe and practice strict personal honesty at home but convince herself or himself that cutting corners at work is OK. “It’s work,” he or she might say, “and work’s different.”
As Dr. Moo suggests above, followers of Christ may be particularly susceptible to the negative side of compartmentalization. We are tempted constantly to separate the spiritual from the material, the sacred from the secular, our Sundays from our Mondays, our worship from our work, our beliefs from our actions. We often try to live with Christ at the center of our lives while keeping part of it for ourselves. Such is the nature of fallen humanity.
Still, our goal is to align faith and life. We want to live what we believe. The better we do so, the more likely we will feel at peace with God, ourselves, and our neighbors.
Toward that end, I will offer a new sermon series Sunday. It is titled: “3C Faith. Making Life with God Better, Easier, and More Complete.” Through it we will consider steps we can take to de-compartmentalize our faith and live more fully as the people God created and redeemed us to be. The text for the first sermon will be Romans 12:1-2. Hope to see you in worship!
P.S. Don’t forget our Day of Fasting begins at 7 pm this Friday. We are encouraging you to fast from food (if you are able) or from an activity that is prominent in your life. We also urging everyone to pray for the church to discern God’s will for its future and to reach out to at least one neighbor. We will gather at 6 pm Saturday to break our fasts and share our experiences. Please call or email the church office if you plan to attend the dinner.
P.S.S. Our churchwide emphasis—Unfinished: Rediscovering Our Mission in Acts—begins September 9. We will be ordering books soon, so if your Sunday School class plans to participate, or if you want one for personal study, please let me know as soon as possible. By buying in bulk we can secure a significant discount.