Feed the Goose & Use Your Calendar

white eggs in brown nest

One of Aesop’s fables tells the story of a man who found a goose who laid golden eggs. Every morning, he went and found another golden egg that the goose had laid, until one day he became greedy, and decided to cut the goose open so he could get more golden eggs. Of course, by doing so, not only did he not get any extra golden eggs, but he also ceased getting the daily eggs he had previously received, since the goose was now dead.

You can read the parable here or listen to this 1 minute audio version:

The point of the fable, Aesop said, is that greed often overreaches itself. However, like with most parables, there are several applicable truths packed into this very short story.

Many of the best things are acquired indirectly

The golden eggs in the story represent a desired outcome: something you want. For you, that might mean spiritual growth in your relationship with God, it might mean increased knowledge of the Bible or theology. It might mean deep and meaningful friendships, developing a skill, or increasing your success in your work. It might be making an impact on the world around you.

But what this fable illustrates for us, is that whatever the “golden egg” is for you, it is usually acquired indirectly. When the man in the story pursued the golden eggs directly, seeking to bypass the goose, he ended up with nothing, and killed the thing which gave him that which he wanted.

CS Lewis writes about how friendship works in a similar way. Friendship, he points out, must be about something else other than the friendship itself. The basis of a friendship is that both people are committed to and passionate about something beyond their friendship. “This is why,” Lewis says, “those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any.” “Those who have nothing can share nothing,” he points out, and concludes: “those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” (The Four Loves, ch. 4)

The same is true of spiritual growth. To quote from John Piper: “Doctrine is the fuel for worship.” The way to grow, the way towards deeper worship, is indirect: it is through getting to know more about who God is and what He has done and will do, which fuels growth and worship.

If you’ve ever met someone who is purposefully seeking to “climb the ladder” or make a name for themselves in an organization or community, it often backfires, because it is seen as off-putting and self-serving. On the other hand, those who make a practice of genuinely and faithfully serving others will not remain anonymous for very long.

If you want to keep getting “golden eggs”, then make sure you feed the “goose”

The goose in the fable is the thing which you must “feed” in order to get the desired results.

If your goal is spiritual growth, then to “feed the goose” means to do those things which will result in spiritual growth, e.g. reading the Bible, prayer, attending worship services, joining a community group.

At White Fields, something our leadership has done is develop a plan that guides us in doing the qualitative activities which we believe will lead to our desired outcome (our vision): to build and foster a passionate, engaged and spiritually healthy Christian community to influence and bless Longmont and beyond. The way we go about doing this (our mission) is by making disciples of Jesus Christ through teaching the Word of God, engaging in the mission of God, and raising up leaders. In order to accomplish that mission, we have tried to determine what things we should be doing, which will lead to those outcomes.

The same is true on a personal level: a few years ago, after a doctor visit in which I was told I was pre-diabetic, I decided I wanted to get in better shape. Since running seemed to give the best return on investment, I decided to do that. Rather than setting weight-loss goals, I’ve set running goals, knowing that if I run a certain amount, whether I lose weight or not, I will be in better shape.

Make sure that the “golden eggs” you’re after are godly and aligned with God’s heart and will for your life, and then determine what the “goose” is that will produce that outcome, and feed that goose.

Check out: Inputs and Outputs for Growth and Maturity

Moving beyond good intentions and wishful thinking

I have found that using my calendar is the best way to make sure I’m feeding the “goose”.

Reading through the Bible in a year is a great goal, as is family devotional time and committed church attendance. However, if you don’t use your calendar to block out times for those things, they won’t often move beyond the realm of good intentions. I have found that by putting things in my calendar, I am able to prioritize things according to my values, rather than being a slave to the “tyranny of the urgent.”

May God lead you, as you seek Him, to determine the right “golden eggs” to pursue, the right way to “feed the goose” and the ability to be intentional in doing so.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Friendship

women s black long sleeve shirt

This weekend I will be officiating two weddings for young couples from White Fields. For pre-marital counseling, one of the resources I use is Timothy and Kathy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of GodOne of the great takeaways from this book is that the foundation for marriage is “spiritual friendship.” On the topic of friendship, the book quotes several other authors.

Here are some highlights:

Our need for friends is not weakness, it’s part of our design

Since God is triune in nature (one God in three distinct persons), creating us in His own image (“Let us create man in our image.” – Genesis 1:26), is by nature designing us for relationships. It is for this reason, that when God saw Adam alone in the garden without a companion,  God declared that “it is not good that man should be alone, therefore I will create a companion suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

What this is implying is that “our intense relational capacity, created and given to us by God, was not fulfilled completely by our ‘vertical’ relationship with him. God designed us to need ‘horizontal’ relationships with other human beings. That is why even in paradise, loneliness was a terrible thing.” (The Meaning of Marriage, 120)

The sifting hand and the breath of kindness

Two characteristics of real friendship are 1) constancy and 2) transparency.

One writer described friendship in this way:

the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away. (Craik, A Life for a Life, 169)

Oh, that there were more of this!

Seeing the same truth

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, writes about friendship and says that friendship happens when two people discover that they “see the same truth.”

Friendship, he points out, cannot be merely about itself. It, by nature, must be about something else, something that both people are committed to and passionate about besides one another.

“This is why,” Lewis says, “those pathetic people who simple ‘want friends’ can never make any.” Because there is nothing they want more than friends, but ironically, you cannot have friends unless you love something or see some truth that you are passionate about. “Those who have nothing can share nothing,” he points out, and concludes: “those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” (The Four Loves, ch. 4)

This is why the basis for Christian marriage is actually friendship: it is two people standing side by side, together with their eyes fixed on Jesus, and moving towards him. Anything less is an insufficient foundation.

Spiritual friendship, Keller concludes, is the greatest journey of all, because the horizon is so high and far, yet so sure – it is nothing less than “the day of Jesus Christ.” (The Meaning of Marriage, 127)

David and Jonathan: Man Love

Tomorrow at White Fields I will be teaching 1 Samuel 18 – which begins with David and Jonathan’s friendship. The text says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (18:1).

This epic friendship between Jonathan and David includes Jonathan giving up his right to the throne in order to allow David to take the place given to him by God. Later on Jonathan helps protect David from Jonathan’s father, King Saul, who is determined to kill David.

After Jonathan’s death at the end of 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel begins with David’s mourning over the loss of his friend, which includes this statement: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26).

This statement of David’s has led some to believe that David and Jonathan were more than just friends, that they were actually lovers.

The word “love” in the Greek Septuagint is the word “agape” – as opposed to “eros” (erotic, sensual love) – so it is quite clear that David is not talking about “making love” with Jonathan, but about a deep bond between these two men which was deeper, richer and more profound than any romantic relationship.

And therein is an important point that is being made in the text here: that the deepest bonds between people are not based on physical intimacy, but on sharing the same heart and desires and by being in the trenches together through hard times and good – such an important principle to keep in mind in regard to marriage as well. Marriage can’t only be built on a physical romantic relationship – it has to be built on a spiritual bond and a friendship as well. This is part of the reason why the Bible tells Christians not to be unequally yoked: because the spiritual bond, the same heart for God is an important building block for a solid marriage relationship.