Note To Readers: Over the years, I have vigorously sought to identify definitive principles pertaining to a wide host of social, economic, and relational issues. To qualify, they had to be applicably true in every generation, ethnic group, and jurisdiction of governing and structuring. I have settled on a list of TWELVE MASTER PRINCIPLES. I plan to topically focus on one each month of the coming year, as I believe they are relevant in our current chaos and uncertainty.
The first of our Twelve Master Principles is Transcendence or “ultimate issues.” This principle comprehensively requires that any activity we are seriously investing life into must be carefully able to answer the following questions:
- What are the ultimate and most important values, outcomes, and strategic investments connected to this endeavor?
- Exactly, what are we doing and why?
- How are we doing it, and who needs to be involved with us?
- Where does this fit into my ultimate commitments to God, others, and my given destiny and engiftments?
Transcendence is all about ultimate issues, priorities, and strategic planning. Getting ourselves to commit to consistently operating through this principle takes courage, honesty, and hard work.
Tragically, relatively few people live within this all-important principle. In fact, most have seldom heard of it, let alone been trained to think or live this way. It demands that we “number our days” (Psalm 90:12) and believe that our lives are worth such demanding scrutiny. This principle helps identify the world’s true leaders and measures the truth and logic of any system or policy currently in force or proposed for enactment. Concluding which things are transcendent is also essential in terms of strategic process. Until we know what we must do and not do, priorities cannot wisely unfold. This principle tells us where to start, whether we have achieved our transcendent objective or mission, and it determines the conclusion, safeguarding us to stop where we need to stop. It keeps us “keeping first things first” and helps us refocus when we get lost in the process. Thought-out tasks have a beginning and an end and are hopefully void of chasing unnecessary things.
There are endless examples of transcendent thought in our world. Spiritually, when Jesus was asked to identify the ultimate (transcendent) law in Scripture (Matthew 22:36-40), He quickly cited Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Leviticus 19:18 as His answer. When it came to acquiring blessings, He instructed us to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). National constitutions are the transcendent law of a nation backed up by another ultimate court of law, namely, the Supreme Court. The Hippocratic Oath is the transcended law held by medical professionals, and the Code of Conduct is the ethics guide and directive held to by the US military. The penalty in the realm of crime that stands beyond all others is that pertaining to first-degree murder or any other “death sentence” which knowingly deprives others of their lives. Science has ultimate principles in its many disciplines—gravity, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics to name a few. The first source of managing matter in the created order was light (Genesis 1:3), and it is a foundation of multiple other measurements. The list goes on, all pointing to the reality that the principle of defining transcendence in any set of thoughts or actions determines, limits, and interprets values. Ultimate issues, once confirmed, unify group activities.
Recognizing the reality of transcendence begins with the debate as to what those “ultimates” should be. To this point, knowledge and wisdom become the water upon which the ship must sail. The examples of disaster, mayhem, and loss are virtually limitless when we look back at the nations, organizations, and people who have been destroyed because they misinterpreted or misapplied an ultimate law, principle, or sequence. Indeed, the greatest leaders are the ones who correctly assess the grand issues of value, priority, and sequence and disseminate them to those who can, in turn, recruit and enlist others. One of my personal favorites of the Scriptures, Proverbs 1:7, accurately assesses that which is transcendent: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” And that is…