Orrin Woodward Leadership

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    Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Leadership. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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The Paradox of Christian Virtues

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 19, 2012

Here is part two of G.K. Chesterton’s article. Chesterton compares the best virtues of our pagan past with the paradoxical virtues of the Christian faith and arrives at insights that everyone ought to think deeply upon. Whether a person ultimately agrees or not, it’s important to know why he believes what he believes. Again, the key to this blog is to stimulate thought in a friendly and non-combative fashion. Remember, a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Consequently, all real change begins on the inside when a person begins to think. In sum, that’s the goal of the LIFE business. Here are some profound thoughts by Chesterton to think upon. :)

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

G.K. Chesterton

My general meaning touching the three virtues of which I have spoken will now, I hope, be sufficiently clear. They are all three paradoxical, they are all three practical, and they are all three paradoxical because they are practical. It is the stress of ultimate need, and a terrible knowledge of things as they are, which led men to set up these riddles, and to die for them. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of hope that is of any use in a battle is a hope that denies arithmetic. Whatever may be the meaning of the contradiction, it is the fact that the only kind of charity which any weak spirit wants, or which any generous spirit feels, is the charity which forgives the sins that are like scarlet. Whatever may be the meaning of faith, it must always mean a certainty about something we cannot prove. Thus, for instance, we believe by faith in the existence of other people.

But there is another Christian virtue, a virtue far more obviously and historically connected with Christianity, which will illustrate even better the connection between paradox and practical necessity. This virtue cannot be questioned in its capacity as a historical symbol; certainly Mr. Lowes Dickinson will not question it. It has been the boast of hundreds of the champions of Christianity. It has been the taunt of hundreds of the opponents of Christianity. It is, in essence, the basis of Mr. Lowes Dickinson’s whole distinction between Christianity and Paganism. I mean, of course, the virtue of humility. I admit, of course, most readily, that a great deal of false Eastern humility (that is, of strictly ascetic humility) mixed itself with the main stream of European Christianity. We must not forget that when we speak of Christianity we are speaking of a whole continent for about a thousand years. But of this virtue even more than of the other three, I would maintain the general proposition adopted above. Civilization discovered Christian humility for the same urgent reason that it discovered faith and charity—that is, because Christian civilization had to discover it or die.

The great psychological discovery of Paganism, which turned it into Christianity, can be expressed with some accuracy in one phrase. The pagan set out, with admirable sense, to enjoy himself. By the end of his civilization he had discovered that a man cannot enjoy himself and continue to enjoy anything else. Mr. Lowes Dickinson has pointed out in words too excellent to need any further elucidation, the absurd shallowness of those who imagine that the pagan enjoyed himself only in a materialistic sense. Of course, he enjoyed himself, not only intellectually even, he enjoyed himself morally, he enjoyed himself spiritually. But it was himself that he was enjoying; on the face of it, a very natural thing to do. Now, the psychological discovery is merely this, that whereas it had been supposed that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by extending our ego to infinity, the truth is that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by reducing our ego to zero.

Humility is the thing which is for ever renewing the earth and the stars. It is humility, and not duty, which preserves the stars from wrong, from the unpardonable wrong of casual resignation; it is through humility that the most ancient heavens for us are fresh and strong. The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, “the light of common day.” We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightning, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, in which we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.

The terms “pessimism” and “optimism,” like most modern terms, are unmeaning. But if they can be used in any vague sense as meaning something, we may say that in this great fact pessimism is the very basis of optimism. The man who destroys himself creates the universe. To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea. When he looks at all the faces in the street, he does not only realize that men are alive, he realizes with a dramatic pleasure that they are not dead.

14 Responses to “The Paradox of Christian Virtues”

  1. Kara Plank said

    That was tougher reading that I am used to, but I’m glad I read it! I love that you challenge us to read and learn material that we normally would not have thought or chosen to pick up and read. This article is a good reminder to think through our beliefs and to their origins.

  2. jimmy varghese said

    one of my favorite christian apologists is ravi zacharias. he quite often refers to mr chestertons writings. after reading this article it confirmed yet again and again that i am a sinner in dire need of a savior and its only by His blood that i am living and will live for eternity. i hope to share this hope with as many people as possible Orrin. The world needs a savior. Its our job to point them in the right direction. God bless.

  3. Kevin Hamm said

    Good article Orrin,

    He is striking at the cord of Christian humility,it is nothing less than the understanding(as best we can) of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God and creator of the universe who possesses virtues so superlative that prostrate on our faces we would fall should we ever encounter His presence. We truly should “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt us at the proper time.” The stoic or pagan form of humility defies this essence of Christian humility. Thank you for the thought provoking reading.

  4. John HATCHELL said

    Faith hope and charity should be the action verbs of our lives. Thanks for reminding me as I walk among men who like me need to be reminded!!

  5. Libbie Quinn said

    May that we all have our life in Christ, that we may live and not be dead! Praise the Lord!

  6. Aaron said

    Help me understand this Orrin. He’s saying our ego should be zero but from the books I’ve read I thought we need a healthy strong ego. Maybe I’m missing the point. Could you explain? Thanks

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Aaron, ego stands for Edging God Out. Our faith is in Him and His plans, not us and our plans. With strong egos comes pride and with pride comes the fall. That doesn’t mean to think of yourself as lower than other people, but low before God’s majesty. In other words, a person who fears God has no ego, but also doesn’t fear man because he know how small the biggest of men and women are compared to Almighty God. I used to fear men, but after understanding who I was in Christ, I fear no man, only God. thanks, Orrin

  7. Aaron said

    Thanks orrin I appreciate that. Now I got another question :-) what’s the difference between ego and self esteem. I always put those 2 in the same category but maybe I didn’t read enough yet. If somebody says something that’s hurts our ego that meens it also hurt our pride therefore were not humble. Now correct me if I’m wrong. Ego stands between us and God and self esteem stands between us and another human. So low ego good, low self esteem puts us below another human but high self esteem puts us on the same level as another human? Thanks for your time! Aaron

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Aaron, you are getting it. Christians know they have value because Christ died for them and He has infinite value and was willing to lay down his life for us; therefore, we have value because we are adopted into His family. In other words being a son or daughter of the King is a pretty big deal. :) God esteem and low ego is the best combination because our worth comes, not from what we have, nor what we achieve, but by what He has accomplished on the cross and what he does through his Holy Spirit in and through us. thanks, Orrin

  8. Kim Decker said

    Orrin,
    Very good blog as usual…this one really makes the mind think…which most cannot do any more..they just exist!

  9. Phillip Kuntze said

    Orrin, amazing two part blog! Nothing more exhilarating than getting the wheels turning in my mind. After reading it and the comments, it seems to me that pagans were all about pragmatism. Paganism can consist of being pragmatic and/or principle centered. Either one of those is still being self serving and builds self esteem within your own accomplishments. I am realizing now that when a person can move from principle centered to Christ centered, they can begin to realize what it’s like to have God esteem! The outlook on the world begins to be that as the ‘humble man’, really being able to see everything for what it is and the beauty within!
    Thanks Orrin.

  10. Trevor Long said

    Thank you for posting this article Orin. How opposite the ‘world’ seeks after happiness. As G. K. Chesterton expressed, the sun can be truly appreciated when viewed through eyes of humility. This reminds me of post questioned Job and his subsequent re-framing as well as the fuller richness of salvation in Christ when viewed through the doctrines of grace. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Orin, did your fear of man gradually diminish or was it more sudden based on your correct understanding of humility?

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Trevor, definitely a gradual change as the Truth of Jesus Christ finished work for me replaced my self-made view of success. thanks, Orrin

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