Monday, September 24, 2012

The Philosopher vs. The Practicioner

My favorite undergraduate class was philosophy. I enjoyed it so much particularly because the entire structure of the class itself was centered around personal opinion, and if you know me...I seem to have no shortage of those!!

While I really do enjoy thinking about, observing, creating and teaching philosophical concepts and worldviews, philosophy itself doesn't amount to much of anything. Unless couple with a practical application, the dispensation of philosophy erodes to the lowest form of entertainment based pontification.

Think about this for a minute. You take a class, listen to an expert or read through some material in order to gain a better frame of reference on a particular set of circumstances in order to engage these circumstances with a greater amount of creativity and innovation. We pursuing learning in order to experience growth...we desire to live beyond our current reality.

For some of us our natural inclination might be towards the philosophical ramifications of a particular issue, while others of us might tend to focus on the practical application of what is being discussed.

Both are valuable, and both are needed. The challenge is finding the balance between these two competing ideologies.

Here are three things I'm learning about how to find this type of balance:

1. Don't over-think it. Sometimes the best solutions to problems are the ones that are organically created and sustained. What works in one place or with one problem might now work with another. While it is great to think creatively about a specific issue, we can unintentionally find ourselves stuck in the hamster wheel of over-thinking our strategic approach to the problem at hand. Think, yes, but resist the temptation to theorize the issue away...history teaches us that never works out well.

2. Test it. The balance between the philosopher and the practitioner might just be found in the basic scientific method approach of trial and error. Sometimes we need to test our theories. We might think something works, but without substantial proof, what good is our theory? This basic understanding in science can and should be directly applied to faith. If we believe something is true, we should allow it to be tested. I can't have faith if I don't have trust, and trust is the organic by-product of testing. Don't believe me? Even the Bible suggests that we should "taste and see the Lord is good." If we think it might be true, we should test it so that we can trust our convictions. There is no reward without risk, and risk is a form of testing.

3. Celebrate it and replicate it. When our theory turns out to have produced desired (and maybe unintended) results we should stop to celebrate it! We don't celebrate our success in order to create a larger ego, we celebrate our success in order to recognize the growth and development that is occurring. Ever wonder why we celebrate birthdays? Life is a gift. Growth is a gift. We need to take the time to celebrate our experiences and learn how to enjoy the gift we've been given. And once we celebrate, we should look to replicate our success by learning to continue to grow in another facet or area of our lives. We should be content with who we are, but being content does not mean we refuse to grow any longer. Contentment means we live from a place of reassured confidence and hope that life is a gift and we are stewards of this gift.

Whether you find yourself drawn more to the philosophical or the practical end of the spectrum, the truth is that without a balance between these two ideologies, we might become irrelevant to ourselves and to others...and then what is it that we have to offer the communities in which we find ourselves in association with?

A Little Something from Psalm 8

 Had a lot of fun with this one.