Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of September 2, 2013

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Responsibility

(Spirituality at Work: Part 4)

Someone we might describe as a person of substance is likely a person with significant being. One way to define being is as the capacity to be responsible. Thus, from time to time, we have people of great being who become leaders of nations or major corporations. But clearly not all leaders have great being: they may have the responsibilities, but not the capacity. Yet some have both. And it goes the other way also: people who receive great responsibility may rise to it and, in doing so, develop their being. These may grow in tandem, such as when the entrepreneur and founder of a successful new company is able to lead its growth, while his or her being grows apace. Beyond domain knowledge, people skills, and personal charisma, being is the hidden quality that makes for greatness in a leader, conferring creativity, foresight, and the capacity to be responsible.

The complexities of life offer us many responsibilities: to our body, our family, our profession, our community, and to the Sacred. Responsibility means doing what is necessary and appropriate in each context. How do we know what’s necessary? We know what commitments we have made and can readily see those as necessary. We can see our current situation and by our intuition of conscience know what is necessary and appropriate. By seeing, accepting, and fulfilling our responsibilities, we grow our being. This is the essential connection between our outer work in the world and our inner work of the soul.

The question that so often confronts us is whether we will actually do what we need to do or shirk and let things slide. It is not always easy to fulfill our responsibilities. Here our being plays its role in enabling us to persevere in the face of difficulties, which take so many different forms. The outer difficulties are the most obvious: competing demands on our time, our personal shortcomings, and an uncooperative environment challenge us. Inwardly, we have our emotional ups and downs, our changing interests, our laziness, and our tendency to retreat in the face of problems. All of it makes wonderful fodder for the growth of our being. Meeting our responsibilities, even when we would much rather do otherwise, presents us with the choice points that change us in our core.

The push and pull of responsibilities show the interplay of being and will. While being gives us a place to stand in peace and from which to act with vigor, it is our will that chooses, commits, and acts. Fulfilling responsibilities is an act of will. And all will derives from the One Will of the Creator. Thus, responsibilities offer us a way toward becoming a vehicle of the Sacred.

None of this means we should take on more than we can handle, nor that we should take on a responsibility just to have something to do. We choose carefully and direct our life thereby to the extent we can, rather than falling into responsibilities by accident or default. We need to choose and commit. Once we have done that, we fulfill our commitments. Our word is our bond and the strength it gives us is the strength of our being.

The simple, practical things matter: doing what we say we’ll do, staying on task to completion, meeting deadlines, being organized, taking care of the details while keeping an eye on the big picture. This is our path toward living well, toward self-trust and confidence, and toward being considered trustworthy and reliable by those around us. And because not all of our time is filled with responsibilities, this is a path that leaves us with the clarity of mind and lightness of heart to enjoy our life, both at work and at play.

For this week, look again at your approach to your responsibilities.


     

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