I was talking about this individual’s spiritual growth and said something to the effect that though I desired to see the person farther along in his recognition of what the Gospel was doing in his life, I did appreciate the fact that this person gave verbal affirmation that he desired to grow in the Gospel, but he was just not sure how. And after asking him, he admitted that he really did not have anyone specifically who was investing in him to show him how to grow.
I made the comment to my friend at the coffee house that of the two, I would rather have someone who was desiring growth than someone who just did the motions of Bible reading and prayer but yet had no motivation or drive to further his walk with Jesus. To which my friend at the coffee house replied, “Mmmm, so you are speaking of position versus direction.”
His response caught me off guard, not because I was in disagreement with it, but rather I had not thought about the differences between the two and the implications of each.
Position vs direction
Though the two words may have some overlap, there are subtle nuances that are worth considering.
Position refers to where I am at; direction looks at where I am going. Position seems to imply where I am in relation to my surroundings or context; direction includes some type of movement. Position answers the question “where am I at or what is my orientation?” Direction answers the question “where am I going or what is my trajectory?”
Now think of these two questions in terms of how you view yourself, whether as one who leads or as one who follows. When considering both, they feel a bit weightier, as if each is affecting the other in same way.
And they are.
“What is my position?” and “What is my direction?” are questions that cannot be answered without a more strategic level of contemplation and reflection. But make no mistake – they are critical questions to be asking of yourself. And we all must spend time thinking through these because they carry a tremendous amount of weight in the type of impact you have with your life.
Scripture speaks of both position and direction.
The Psalmist tells us…
The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, when he delights in His way. (Psalm 37:23)
Steps speak of where I am at right now. I have the picture in my mind of a man crossing a lake that is iced over. The ice is unstable in some areas and so the man carefully contemplates each and every step. Each step has value; each step has purpose.
Scripture also speaks of the relevance of my direction. The New Living Translation states with clarity to
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Above all things that can be defended and secured in my life, I must protect my heart. Because the overflow of my moral life stems from how I guard my heart.
The reality is that unless I am reading and meditating on God’s Word and having the Spirit actively working in my life, I can tend to have blind spots. The view of my position, of my orientation in relation to my surroundings, can seem acceptable when not carefully viewed through the lens of the Gospel. Meaning, unless I am intentional, I will overlook the small course corrections that need to be made in my life.
For example, if I were flying in a plane that was off course only 10 degrees from what was correct, and I flew 1,000 miles, I would miss my landing mark by almost 200 miles.
Here are some dangers that I need to be aware of in my own life when not viewing both position and direction:
Position without direction
To only assess how things are right now without also looking at where I am going quickly leads to an aimless life. I will most likely be inefficient because I can only see the immediate fires going on. I will overflow a reactionary mindset and jump to conclusions quickly.
Direction without position
To only look at what’s ahead without being in the present may mean that I get consumed with the goal and miss the value-add of the journey. Everything between me and the bulls-eye is slightly fuzzy or blurry. Opportunities in the moment are either ignored or discounted. People get run-over in my quest for the goal and I only end up seeing them in the rear view mirror.
Position and direction
A focus on both? Now you are truly effective in leading your own life and other’s lives. For not only are you contemplating the present but also envisioning the future. A view of my orientation and where I am going allows me to make minor course corrections, recalibrate, and fine-tune. It keeps me from missing my landing by almost 200 miles as given in the example above.
I impact in the present looking ahead to the future.
So where are you? Is your emphasis primarily on one or the other? Maybe it is time to set aside a few hours of your day and make the hard assessment. Or allow someone else to speak the difficult truth into your life.
Either way, you are going to be the better for it. And that overflow will wash through the lives of those within your circle of influence. And maybe you can reproduce this process in the life of another.
If you have someone who would benefit from this post today, please share it with your friends!