We’re measuring the wrong things. Not all of us, but most of us. When we get up each morning, when we set out for the day, we have goals. Everyday. We commit ourselves, we commit our marriages, to meeting certain goals. We judge ourselves by measuring our progress toward those goals . . . each day, each week, each month, each year. The problem is, for most of us, those goals are the wrong goals.
So, we’re measuring the wrong things.
I [Justin] spent decades of my life doing this. It felt good, because my early years were . . . misspent. I broke lots of rules and got into lots of trouble. My mom battled leukemia from the time I was in grade school to the time I was in college. I had some things I needed to deal with—and I guess I wasn’t dealing with ‘em very well. I didn’t even graduate from high school on time. I had to make up some classes and graduated about six months after the rest of my friends.
After graduation, things changed. I started taking classes at a local community college. For the first time in a long time, I cared. I cared about learning. I cared about grades. And I set some goals. My grades started to accumulate and I transferred to a big school in Los Angeles (where I met Jenn). Goals got bigger. My grades continued to accumulate and I got into an Ivy League law school. Goals got even bigger. After law school, Jenn and I moved to New York City, where I got a job with a Wall Street law firm. Goals got even bigger. And I was pleased with myself, especially considering from where I’d come—just a few short years ago. I had a beautiful wife. I had a high paying job. I was making great progress towards my goals. Everything seemed great. Of course, it wasn’t.
I’d spent my high school years as a non-conformist, at least with regard to grades and achievement. When college began, though, I made an idol of conformity. I conformed my life to the culture of the world—and, I’ve got to be honest, I loved every minute of it.
Do not be conformed to this world”(Romans 12:2).
I remember filling out my submission for the reunion book for my 10 year high school reunion. I relished the moment. I listed all the goals and all the progress. The write-up shocked a few people, I am sure. It was so pompous it could have been used as a case study in how to alienate friends and acquaintances. It was bad. There was no heart it. There was no humility in it. There was actually very little of Justin in it. At the time, it felt great writing it, submitting it. Of course, it wasn’t.
We men love to measure things. And we have, at our disposal, highly accurate gauges for measuring just about anything, including the progress of our lives. I mean, we never have to wonder which careers are most prestigious; which jobs are most coveted; which neighborhoods are most exclusive; which vacations are most glamorous; which cars are most luxurious. Our culture makes sure its gauges remain well calibrated.
The problem is, such things are not proper for measuring the progress of any life. There’s nothing wrong with careers or communities or cars, in-and-of themselves. They’re just not appropriate gauges in this context. Using them is like using a thermometer to measure the weight of a steel beam. It doesn’t work. Likewise, improper gauges won’t work for us, for measuring our lives as men. We must create and calibrate new gauges, ones that can properly measure our lives, because they measure the right stuff—like how we’re doing as husbands, as fathers, as friends, as neighbors; and how we’re doing toward becoming the men God intends us to become.
from WiRE Devotional for Men
The “Justin Camp” section of my high school reunion book didn’t say anything about discontent. It didn’t say anything about anger. It didn’t say anything about the incredibly rude and careless way I could treat people in those days. It didn’t say anything about fear.
My life was trying to speak, but I wanted to speak for it. My life was trying to tell me that I was pursuing the wrong goals . . . someone else’s goals, actually. But I wasn’t listening. All I wanted to talk about, all I wanted to think about, all I wanted to acknowledge even, were the goals I’d set. My goals. But, they were the wrong goals. So I was measuring the wrong things. The interesting thing was that, because I was measuring the wrong things, I actually thought I was doing great. I was totally unaware of what was going wrong. I thought discontent, anger, fear were simply part of being a responsible, serious, grown-up man. Of course, they aren’t.
Discontent and anger and fear are part of being a broken, wayward boy . . . a boy who needed to allow his Father God to come alongside him and help him to redefine his goals . . . a boy who needed to allow his Father God to come alongside him, to spend time with him, and to teach him how to build new gauges, new ways of measuring his progress toward those new goals.
Build new gauges for yourself, brother, ones that measure things like . . . how many nights you are home for dinner; or how often you sit down and pray with your wife or girlfriend; or how often you have conversations with your sons or daughters about their dreams or their fears; or how often you meet with brothers in community; or how often you drop what you’re doing to spend time with friends in need.
from WiRE Devotional for Men
Most of us need new goals . . . no longer the world’s goals. We need new gauges. We need them for ourselves. We need them for our marriages too. And we, as the Holy Entangled, need to define those new goals together, united at a couple, if we can. We should all be able to articulate what we stand for, as One Flesh. And we, as the Holy Entangled, should be willing to step up to our responsibilities to keep ourselves, our spouses, and our marriages accountable as we work toward new goals, as we gauge or progress toward good goals, true goals.
Thanks to God and thanks to Jenn, I did a better job at my 20 year high school reunion. I’m going to do an even better job at the next one.
photo credit: picjumbo