Monday, August 17, 2009


Jim Collins' latest book How The Mighty Fall is built around the conviction:

"We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes, or even staggering defeats along the way. We are freed by our choices." (pg. 120)

I am interested in a conversation around this. What decisions imprison? What decisions set free?

What do you think? Please click "Comments" 6 to leave yours.


George said...

The choice I see a lot of people making which imprisons is the choice NOT to forgive and the choice to harbor resentment and anger. So, conversely, the choice TO forgive and the choice NOT to hold on to anger (granted, easier said than done) would liberate; both parties I believe.

Linz said...

I agree with Jim that in MOST cases it is not our circumstances that imprison us (although it may seriously seem that way at times) but our response to those circumstances. We make the choice in how we decide to view and respond to a particular situation. However, I do think there are situations that ellicit feelings of depression, anger, sadness, etc. that can be imprisoning for a time despite our most ideal efforts and hopes. We are human and therefore can only respond as such... However, with God I believe that there is a freedom in how we are able to respond because we are able to do more than we could ourselves through Christ's love and power.

Kurt said...

I think the comments above are excellent. As George said, when you chose NOT to forgive, you choose a form of imprisonment. Our clinging to resentments are a very real form of bondage.

And as Linz points out, we choose how to view a particular situation.

Epictetus said, "Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." As I see it, opinions and choices are closely linked. opinions don't just happen even though it seems that way sometimes. We choose our opinions, or at least we choose to keep them or not. Many of our opinions are inherited from our parents, and our cultures and societies. And if we don't question them, they often seem like truths. But an opinion is always a choice. And we are always free to choose to discard an opinion, no matter how cherished it might be.

As to the subject of choices freeing or imprisoning us, I think we often feel most imprisoned when we fail to make a choice. The opinions and beliefs handed down form tradition or society, if left unquestioned, can only imprison. One can keep those opinions and beliefs. The important thing, at least in my opinion, is that one should question them. That isn't the same as doubting them. By questioning them we must take a good, hard look at them. Then if we choose to keep them, we can be free even as we hang on to them. To never question is to live in a very small world.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps another question here is: What or who is at the center of the choice -- whether it be about my past, present, or future, or even about someone else -- and will the decision (choice) imprison me (or you)? Will I be motivated by faith or by my own selfishness? Will I be my own influence, or does God reign sovereign in my life, and consequently based on what I know about Him, will I choose that He directly influence my decision-making?

I would agree that a choice about forgiveness is a heavy burden maker or breaker. Often, to forgive is not an easy choice to make, at least initially, and usually demands lots of humility, which I would argue is often absent in our thinking. And, choosing to forgive oneself can be a difficult choice for some, even if we might recall that Jesus did not come into this world to condemn us (so why continue to condemn oneself?). Can I accept the gift of grace and forgiveness that God has already extended to me (and which I cannot change) and be set free from my past, my mistakes, my sin?

Another type of decision that I think has the capacity to imprison us centers around purchases we make, particularly in our society. Some have a "keep up with the Joneses" or "me first/me-me-me" mentality or are easily influenced by peer pressure; some are 'addicts' of "I still don't have enough" and will do almost anything to have more; and others are blinded by and victims of the constant bombardment of advertising in our culture -- you don't have it, but you should because you need it; you're not good enough or pretty enough, etc., but we promise to change that for you; sure, you have a home or car, but this one is newer, bigger, better; and so forth. We may become burdened with imprisoning emotions of undue want before the purchase or extreme disappointment or other unhealthy emotions after a purchase, and at times, we make a purchase in exchange for a large debt (burden) and/or future maintenance/repair/replacement expenses beyond our means. We end up with a burden of debt and a burden of worry about that debt, and are imprisoned by it. And, I cannot help but consider the question, Am I truly satisfied by this purchase? For example, what if I had spent the money to feed a hungry child in a third-world country or to help a neighbor without a job buy school supplies for his son? What if I had faithfully tithed first? What kind of satisfaction would I feel then? How does my level of satisfaction imprison me or free me up for real, lasting joy?

So, what sets me free? Faith? Discipline? Obedience to and trust in a sovereign and good God? Attitude changes? Lifestyle changes? I think I'm still on the learning curve, but thankful that He came to set me free....

Bill said...

I guess he is saying the corollary is also true, i.e. we are imprisoned by our choices, too. By simple observation that appears true. My only issue with stating only the affirmative "We are freed by our choices" is we are not always aware of the choices we make when we make them. I think I understand what he is saying, but it seems to assume we are able to make wise choices when many don't or can't. I prefer Jesus' saying that "the Truth will set us free" as the Truth fundamentally changes who we are.

Just some initial thoughts.

Anonymous said...

All I want is an explanation as to why any Christian leader is using books from the business shelves to develop his or her thinking. Business is about competition and efficiency. It is about winning. Teamwork is buzzword.

Jim Collins is a successful author. He knows how to recognize how people have made a lot of money. The firms he studied have done some pretty incredibly bad things. To people.

You should really move to another section of Barnes and Noble. Plenty has been written about leadership that has nothing to do with money.

Rev Dr James E Fouther, Jr said...

Its a difficult concept in light of the current nation wide and world wide recession, Wayne. On the one hand I'd love to affirm that ole' 'pulling yourself up by the bootstraps' ideology.' But when I meet people who have been laid off for over 6 months, whose health is bad because their insurance is gone, their relationships are falling apart because they are bringing in little or no income its hard for me NOT to imagine that these individuals are at least somewhat 'imprisoned by their circumstances.' When you log on again, Wayne, I'd love for you to check out my blog too...and comment on it. Thanks.