Wednesday, November 24, 2010


If this is your first visit to the A Pot of Stew, this post is part two of a look at Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose-- I haven't read his book yet, but according to several internet videos featuring Dan Pink, these three motivators drive innovation in the 21st century.

Of course I can't just leave it at that, I've got to connect it to my faith somehow.  My last post was about Autonomy, so now it's on to Mastery.

Jesus says in John 10:10 that he came so that we may have LIFE, and depending on the translation that we may have abundant life or life to the fullest.  We will have Mastery of our lives.  This can lead us to dangerous ground, and I am not a proponent of "prosperity theology," so what does it mean to master our lives to get the most out of them.

For most of my life I've appreciated analogies that compare life to sailing or surfing.  Sometimes the right opportunities come our way and we position ourselves to take advantage of them.  Sometimes the situation is tough and we find a way to make the most of it.  But still, sometimes we realize we are at the mercy of the winds and tides so we hunker down and simply get through it.  This I believe is the full life.  Learning to appreciate the ups and downs, the thrills and spills and taking control where we can but recognizing that the ultimate control is not in our hands.

Mastery is different than manipulation and some people try to manipulate life.  They have the illusion that it is completely under their control and this false assumption is bound to destroy their sense of mastery.  Mastery is different than control.  Every system that is under "control" is a potential disaster when things go wrong.  Mastery is different than authority.  Too often authority is based on a precarious balance of power and submission.

My best understanding of mastery in life could be expressed in the prayer of St. Francis:
"Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and
the wisdom to know the difference." 

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