The previous post, The Blessings of Flow (January 23, 2018), covered the relationship between Flow and Blessings. This post discusses the concepts of Godly Wisdom, Spiritual Efficiency, and Csíkszentmihályi Flow, and explains how these things are manifestations and vehicles of Blessing.
This article is arranged into four sections.
- The Wisdom of God
- The Nature of Spiritual Efficiency
- The Process of Attaining Spiritual Efficiency through Building Godly Character
- The Role of Flow
The Wisdom of God
The Wisdom of God, in a nutshell, is the practice of considering the nature of things, and purposefully arranging things in a way such that the natural behavior of things causes the course of events to unfold naturally, and efficiently, leading to an intended outcome. A couple examples are described here, using King Solomon of the Old Testament, who was known for his great wisdom.
In one story, someone challenged Solomon to draw a thread through a long, winding hole. Instead of playing with string all day, as a typical person would have tried to do, he called for a silkworm to be brought. He positioned the worm at the opening of the hole, and the worm crawled through the hole leaving a strand of silk behind.
1st Kings 3:16-28 describes two harlots who were arguing over a child, in which both claimed to be the mother. Within a small homologous community, and without the testimony of the father, or the benefit of DNA testing, this was a tough call. Solomon’s solution? He commanded for the baby to be cut in half, and that one piece should be given to each woman. In all the commotion and confusion that resulted from this ‘sentence’, the woman with the loudest and most heart-wrenching cries for compassion and pity was clearly identified as the child’s true mother. When this fact was made evident, Solomon stopped the execution from being carried out, then awarded the baby to the true mother, and punished the lying woman.
As illustrated in these two stories, the wisdom of God recognizes the natural form and function, considers various influences on behaviors, respects the symbiotic qualities of various relationships, and understands the desires and inclinations of the heart.
One way to utilize the Wisdom of God, is to implement specific spiritual truths/phenomena as vehicles to desired ends, such as when Flow increases one’s skill, or mutual Love and Respect increases a couple’s marital satisfaction.
Conformity to God’s truths (through discipline and spiritual obedience), and applying those truths wisely, greatly increases one’s propensity to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises, and the inherent blessings. When one uses the wisdom of God to create a spiritually obedient life that can occur largely out of habit and nature, then blessings happen automatically. When this state can be achieved, one has obtained a significantly greater degree of Spiritual Efficiency.
I should also point out that Wisdom could be used for either good, or evil. For an example of Wisdom being used for an evil purpose, see a previous work written by J.T., The Satanic Persuasion Formula (January 20, 2018).
The Nature of Spiritual Efficiency
The nature of Spiritual Efficiency is that it maximizes positive attributes, such as enjoyment, productivity, learning, social interaction, fruits of the spirit, … and minimizes negative attributes, such as investment costs, poor outcomes, emotional work, the burden/exhaustion of a willful implementation of agency, shame, guilt… In this view, the process of Christian maturity could be interpreted as the streamlining of one’s Spiritual Efficiency.
The Bible states that Christ makes the believer complete (i.e. mature), and glorified.
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’.”
In Biblical terminology, I presume that this ‘completeness’ and ‘glorification’ is the characteristic appearance of a life made complete in Christ. This state is naturally marked by the presence of Spiritual Efficiency.
Here, I am not saying that Spiritual Efficiency is equivalent to Christ, or salvation, but that Spiritual Efficiency is an outward manifestation of a redeemed life that has been transformed, and sanctified, by the power and wisdom of Christ.
The Process of Attaining Spiritual Efficiency through Building Godly Character
I believe that Spiritual Efficiency is a real world goal that might help one draw closer to Christ.
To put this concept into secular terms, it’s all about ‘making yourself a better man’.
There is a sequence of tasks in building a life that glorifies God. These steps are briefly outlined here.
- It all begins with the Truth. For a Christian, the Word of Christ is the centrality of Truth. For others, truth is whatever they believe to be true. One must read the Truth/truth. One congregates with others who know the Truth/truth. One hears others profess the Truth/truth. We might even undertake a longitudinal study of Truth/truth. In the process, one is required to discern Truth from lies, and truth from falsehoods and errors, and to make certain decisions about how the Truth/truth applies to one’s self.
- After a time, one begins to believe the Truth or truth in his heart.
- After a belief in the Truth/truth has taken root, one begins to profess the contents of his heart in the form of words.
- Words serve to reinforce one’s beliefs, and words structure the presentation of one’s beliefs. These words also convey one’s values and personality to others.
- A well-structured and congruent system of thoughts, beliefs, words, and habits, which are tested and refined over time, fosters adaptive attitudes, and produces character.
- In the meantime, a person is developing habits and skills which support the formation and propagation of his character, and these habits, over time, become one’s lifestyle, and reputation.
- As one interacts with others, the effects of his personhood influences the lives of those around him, for better or for worse, and thus, he creates a legacy.
When all these things are in place, a state of Spiritual Efficiency has been reached, yielding a life of peace, productivity and contentment. This implies that once a person has achieved these personal qualities, and has established his lifestyle, he doesn’t need to do much to maintain it. The persona of his spiritual state has a life of its own, which draws its own power and produces fruit, all by virtue of its own state of existence. He can rest and enjoy the fruit of his labors.
The problem experienced by most people, is that they do not cognizantly base their personhood on Truth. Instead, they run their lives on auto-pilot. They think about… whatever strikes the natural bent of their fancy, and they do… whatever they Feeelz like doing. Only as an afterthought, which often stems from regret, do they entertain any thoughts of introspection, or reconsider the path of their ways, and where all of it is leading. Such lives are commonly characterized by a poor constitution of character, a sore lack of truth, confusion, cognitive dissonance, wasted resources and opportunities. The list goes on, and is very long, but it can all be summarized in one very short word – SIN.
What is most often the case for even the most diligent of believers, is that life is a continual adventure in discovering ever more of the Truth, and doing the hard work of adapting their lives to it. This is the daily process of redemption, that is, the deliverance from a life of sin.
In summary, one way to describe the state of being blessed might be in the attainment of a high degree of Spiritual Efficiency, by growing into the complete, glorified person, whom God intends us to become. Utilizing the phenomena of Flow is an invaluable vehicle to this end.
The Role of Flow
The impression I have gained from experiencing both Flow and the state of being blessed, is that both are accompanied by, and aided by, attaining a state of ‘Spiritual Efficiency‘.
In specific, Flow is very important in establishing the skills and habits which support the livelihood of the man.
To remain in a Spiritually Efficient state of Flow, one cannot in anyway depend on the responses, spiritual obedience, or opinions of others. (That would suggest the catastrophic idea of ‘people pleasing’ rather than ‘God pleasing’.) One must stand on his own faith, and become a channel of God’s blessings towards others.
In marriage, both people must stand on their own faith, while at the same time, bless one another by striving to create Group Flow, which strengthens them both. This is why maturity, shared values and goals, and a good ‘fit’ of personalities are such important parts of having a good relationship. It all has to contribute to a Spiritually Efficient state of Flow.
If a high degree of Spiritual Efficiency can be achieved within a person’s life, or within a marriage, then that person, or married couple respectively, will naturally find it easy to remain in a perpetual state of joy and eternal bliss, because there are fewer negative aspects to detract from the combination of the natural life and the spiritual life, and more positive aspects that reinforce its continuance. By the way, this is the fundamental nature of a Spiritual Stronghold, which can be either holy or unholy, like with generational Blessings/curses.
- Quote Investigator: Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words; Watch Your Words, They Become Actions (January 10, 2013) [Eds. note: This source is offered for a comparative study. The processes I described are somewhat at variance with the processes found in this ancient adage.]
- Sigma Frame: Learning the Wisdom of Foolishness (November 22, 2017)
- Sigma Frame: A Study of Csíkszentmihályi Flow (December 29, 2017)