Sunday, December 07, 2014

Spiritual health checkup: based on "If" by Rudyard Kipling

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you ..." 
So begins Kipling's famous poem. Kipling's poem is said to be an homage to a man he admired greatly, who got a raw deal and handled himself admirably. It's also part of a long tradition to figure out what it means to be fully human, to live up to the human potential.

I like Kipling's approach, to draw an image of such an ideal man, and hold it up to us, and let us figure out how our reflections measure up, or whether to simply admire and grow from it. While I wouldn't reduce the gospels to it, still the writers of the Christian gospels took much the same approach with Jesus. Confucius took a similar approach with his writings on the ideal gentleman.

If Kipling's poem were a starting point for a checklist, what would that look like? It might go something like this:
  1. When I am blamed for things that are not my fault, I generally clear the air calmly. 
  2. When I am blamed for things that are my fault, I tend to apologize and fix the problem. 
  3. I trust myself. 
  4. It bothers me when people doubt me. 
  5. I have learned from constructive criticism. 
  6. I have lied about someone who did me wrong. [This one hopes you answer "no"; I'm hoping those are plain enough to the read, & I won't always indicate it.]
  7. I really hate people who treat me with contempt. 
  8. My dreams are still alive. 
  9. My dreams take priority over other things. 
  10. I like to think things through and understand the situation. 
  11. I pursue thought for its own sake; I don't often act on my thoughts. 
  12. Life's successes do not go to my head. 
  13. Life's setbacks do not get me down. 
  14. Sometimes I lose my moral compass when I'm among friends, or in a crowd. 
  15. If I had a chance to make it big, I would miss my friends but I could move on. 
  16. It is important to be down-to-earth. 
  17. I think other people's opinions are worth hearing. 
  18. Other peoples' opinions can make me doubt my goals. 
I know there are other items in Kipling's poem that might be reworked as part of a spiritual health checkup. But this serves my purpose for today.

I'm currently wondering: What other things would make good a good basis for a spiritual health checkup?


John Joseph Flanagan said...

To me, a spiritual health check-up should include what you have listed here, but I would start first with this: Do I trust God and love Him with my whole heart, mind, and strength, or have I grown disconnected, indifferent, too involved with life's concerns? Have some things become idols and taken time away from reading God's word, prayer, concern for the unsaved? I can say I love The Lord as much now as when I realized His presence as a young child. Now I am almost 70, and although I am a sinner, and have had more failures than success in my spiritual walk, I am nevertheless a sinner indeed...and a sinner saved by grace. I cannot doubt my God, and always feel close to Him, grateful to Jesus for having saved me, and I have His full assurance I will see Him face to face in glory.

Weekend Fisher said...

"It's not the healthy who need a doctor", as The Man once said. I'm glad he's on our side.

Take care & God bless

Martin LaBar said...

That's a good checklist.

Weekend Fisher said...

Thank you. I think "life" is probably the best one, but the scope leaves us a little overwhelmed at times.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF