Is Life Happening To You, Or Through You?

As part of a pastor's leadership cohort that I recently joined, our coach assigned the book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership for reading and discussion.  

One of the major takeaways I've had so far in the reading is that most of us spend our lives operating from the unhealthy and unhelpful belief that life mostly happens to us, rather than through us. 

When we live from the Life Happens To Me stance, we are more prone to blaming ourselves and others for the problems we face.  

When we live and lead from this stance we will also find ourselves asking  "Why me?" or "Whose fault is this?" And then we look about trying to figure out who should fix the problem, or we decide to fix it on our own, which can create its own set of problems.  

There's also an adrenaline rush that comes pretty standard with this stance.  

In other words, if we're addicted to drama, busyness for busyness' sake, or we simply just have to have jolts of energy brought on by reactivity to the challenges life throws at us... this stance is going to be where we live and breathe.  

As I read through the description of what it looks like to operate from the notion that life is happening to me, I realized how often I live and lead out of that stance.  

It's the stance of a victim, who operates out of a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and self-pity.   

But when we learn to live from the stance of Life Happens Through Me, we discover something completely different.  

This stance is marked by the ability to allow life to flow through you, and to fill you with wonder and awe.  When we operate from this stance, we are able to be non-anxious, non-attached, and live in abundance rather than scarcity.  

Sure, we lose the adrenaline rush that always accompanies the drama of the To Me stance, but we gain so much more.  

We gain the joy, hope, and peace that comes from realizing that though we can't control the challenges and trials we face, we can control how we react to them. We are not powerless, and we are far from being victims.  

Rather than asking "Why me?" or "Whose fault is this?" the key question that we ask ourselves in the Through Me stance is simply this: What wants to happen in and through me?  

If this sounds a bit spiritually-focused, it's because it absolutely is. The authors were pretty clear that this question could easily reference a Higher Power as the one doing the wanting.  

To that end, because I'm a pastor I  can't help but rephrase the question from a Christ-following perspective: 

What does Christ want to happen in and through me?  

This question is much more complex than the popular Christian-y catch-phrase-question from some years ago, "What Would Jesus Do?"  

There's nothing inherently wrong with the "WWJD?" question, but it should ultimately lead us to wonder what Christ wants to do through us because those of us who would call ourselves Christians ought to see ourselves as the tangible hands and feet of Christ in the world. 

May you live your life today from the stance of life being lived through you rather than to you.  May you find moments to be Christ to others today.  May you find the peace that comes from allowing yourself to be blown away by it all.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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