善念的曲折道路

By: Robert J. Tamasy

你是否花許多時間思考為你的生命做件有意義的事 - 追求額外的訓練、受更高的教育、或採取步驟去磨練你的專業技能 - 但不知是什麼緣故,你就是沒有什麼進展?

或者你已考慮要做某件對別人有益處的事:寄一張短信或電子郵件去鼓勵人;邀請某人一起吃午餐或喝咖啡,使彼此更熟識;打電話給一位很久沒聯絡的老朋友或同事?

若你有任何以上的情況,你不是孤單一人。我們所有人不時都會有好的意念,但從沒有去完成;有值得做的好點子,卻沒有付諸行動。有時沒去做的後果是無關緊要的。有一天我們會說:「我真希望我當時做了那件事…」,然後聳聳肩膀,知道那機會已過去了。

然而有時候,錯過的機會留給我們極大的遺憾。我們在生命中的關鍵轉捩點上轉錯了彎,現在掉頭已經太晚了。善念可能會把我們帶上曲折的道路。有一句古諺說,通到毀滅的道路都鋪著善念。赫胥黎說:「不僅是道路鋪著善念,牆面和屋頂也都是善念。對了,傢俱也都是。」

聖經的作者也承認這種掙扎。使徒保羅可能是把這種掙扎表達得最淋漓盡致的人:「因為我所作的,我自己不明白;我所願意的,我並不作;我所恨惡的,我倒去作…我覺得有個律,就是我願意為善的時候,便有惡與我同在」(羅馬書7章15、21節)。

若事實是如此 - 即使我們所能想到最有決心、最有行動力的人都無法將他們的善念付諸行動 - 我們能怎麼辦?我們應該就承認失敗,承認去實現我們高超的希望是徒勞無益的?

當我們對此問題沒有簡單的答案時,可能最好的作法是把我們的善念轉換成具體的目標,用行動計劃把它們付諸實現。

前英國首相柴契爾夫人曾作過這樣的觀察:「若好撒瑪利亞人只有善念;沒有人會記得他;何況他還有錢。」她的觀察是正確的。在看到高速公路上被搶劫且受傷的人,那位新約聖經耶穌基督比喻中的好撒瑪利亞人就想:「應該有人來做點事!」他決定自己就是那採取行動去提供幫助的「人」(路加福音10章25-37節)。

計算不去執行善念的代價也很有幫助。耶穌談到這一點時告訴祂的跟隨者:「你們那一個要蓋一座樓,不先坐下算計花費,能蓋成不能呢﹖」(路加福音14章28節)。

聖經也提出一個嚴厲、發人深省的警告。聖經說,沒有將善念付諸行動,後果比錯失機會更嚴重。聖經說這樣是罪惡的行為:「人若知道行善,卻不去行,這就是他的罪了」(雅各書4章17節)。

勞勃.泰默西是領袖資產協會的傳播部副部長,這是一個總部在美國喬治亞州亞特蘭大的非營利組織。他寫過一本書「最佳狀態的商業」(Business At Its Best)。他也與David A. Stoddard合著一本書「導師之心」(The Heart of Mentoring)。

省思 / 討論題目
你發現自己多常有善念卻因為種種原因而沒有付諸行動?你想為何會如此? 你是否能想出有一次你沒有把你很想做的事付諸行動,到今天你很遺憾當初沒有行出那意念?或者你知道某個人有那樣的經歷。請說明其影響。 有時善念沒有被實現,因為它們不重要--它們只是希望的產物。但當善念是重要的時候呢?不論多麼困難、或多少障礙都必須克服。你可以怎樣做,使自己不會如赫胥黎說:「把牆面和屋頂也都鋪上善念--甚至傢俱也鋪。」? 聖經說知道對的事卻沒去做是罪。這似乎太嚴厲了。你是否同意這說法嗎?為什麼?
若你想看或討論聖經對此主題的其他部份,請看以下經文:
箴言10章5節、12章11節、13章4節、14章23節、15章19節、20章4節;羅馬書6章1-4、8-11節,7章14-25節,8章5-14節

THE CROOKED PATH OF GOOD INTENTIONS
By Robert J. Tamasy

Have you ever spent a lot of time thinking about doing something significant for your life – pursuing additional training, furthering your education, or taking steps to hone your professional skills – but somehow you have never gotten around to it?

Or maybe you have considered doing something that would benefit someone else: sending a note or email to offer encouragement; inviting someone to lunch or for coffee, just to get better acquainted; making a call to an old friend or colleague you have not talked with for a long time?

If you can say yes to any of the above, you are not alone. We all, at one time or another, have good intentions on which we never follow through – worthwhile ideas we never convert into action. Sometimes consequences of such failure are negligible. One day we will say, “I wish I had done…,” and simply shrug our shoulders, knowing the opportunity has passed.

Other times, however, missed opportunities can leave us with great regret. We took the wrong turn at a key juncture in our life, and now it is too late to turn around. Good intentions can lead us on a very crooked path. To paraphrase an old saying, the road to destruction is paved with good intentions. Author Aldous Huxley said it “isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it is walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.”

Even writers of the Bible acknowledged this kind of struggle. The apostle Paul probably expressed it best when he wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:15, 21).

If that is the case – if even the most determined, most highly motivated people we can think of have wrestled with not being able to carry out their best intentions – what can we do? Should we just concede to failure, admitting futility in being able to fulfill our lofty desires?

While there is no simple answer to this question, perhaps the best approach is to redefine good intentions in terms of tangible goals, complete with action plan for bringing them to reality.

Margaret Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made this observation: “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” She was right. After spotting the wounded victim of highway robbers and thinking, “Someone ought to do something!” the Good Samaritan in Jesus Christ”s New Testament parable decided he needed to be that “someone” and took action to help (Luke 10:25-37).

It would also help to count the cost of failure to carry out good intentions. Jesus referred to this in telling His followers, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).

The Bible also offers a stern, sobering warning. Failure to act upon good intentions, it says, is more serious than simply missing out on opportunities. It actually defines this as sinful behavior: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. He has written Tufting Legacies; Business At Its Best; and coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring. CBMC INTERNATIONAL: Jim Firnstahl, President 2850 N. Swan Road, Suite 160
▪ Tucson, Arizona 85712 ▪ U.S.A. TEL.: 520-334-1114 ▪ E-MAIL: [email protected] Web site: www.cbmcint.org Please direct any requests or change of address to: [email protected]

Reflection/Discussion Questions
How often do you find yourself with good intentions that for whatever reason never seem to get put into action? Why do you think this is the case for you? Can you think of a time when you failed to act upon something you seriously intended to do, and to this day carry regret for not having pursued this intention to its fulfillment? Or maybe you know of someone else that has experienced this. Explain the impact this has had. Sometimes good intentions are not fulfilled because they are not important – they are merely the products of wishful thinking. But what about when good intentions are important? No matter how difficult or how many obstacles must be overcome, what can you do to make certain you do not, as Huxley wrote, build a roof and wall of good intentions around them – and even add furnishings? The Bible”s statement that knowing the right thing to do and then failing to do it is sinful. That might seem harsh. Do you agree with that assessment? Why or why not?
Note: If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
Proverbs 10:5, 12:11, 13:4, 14:23, 15:19, 20:4; Romans 6:1-4,8-11, 7:14-25, 8:5-14

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