Why I don’t like laws

Last week, I talked about the book entitled Laws of Lifetime Growth by Dan Sullivan.  At the outset of the book, I felt my gut twist when I read the word “Laws” in the title.  Ironically, Dan Sullivan, the author, states in the introduction to the book, “If the word law makes you uncomfortable…You might want to imagine each law as being prefaced by ‘You will continue to grow if …’”.*

I enjoyed the book, as I summarized in last week’s blog. I found it very helpful in teaching me how to have a growth mindset. So why was I bothered by his use of the word laws? 

  • It could be that as a trained engineer, I know laws are to be irrefutable truths which are consistently shown to be truth across all environments through replicable experiments. And I doubt these ten principles really are consistent across all cultures.
  • It could be that I am enough of a non-conformist that I don’t like people telling me that things are laws. This is because it tells me that I cannot think differently than what the law presents. 
  • It could be that I am wary of dogmatic individuals who only see black and white from their perspective. Despite understanding why they would see it that way, I can see a lot of grays. 
  • It could be that I was raised and educated in the 1960’s and 1970’s (think Hippies!) where I was taught to question everything. But even then, we needed some grounding principles to base our lives upon. Love!

Paradoxically, the first time I fully grasped the gospel clearly, and my need for forgiveness was from an individual who presented it from a booklet entitled The Four Spiritual Laws! That little yellow booklet put me on a road of spiritual transformation and a lifetime of growth. I was twenty years old. 

Obviously, there are physical laws, like gravity and the second law of thermodynamics, which I fully accept and don’t push back on. Given the nature of the physical world, I would think God clearly came up with some laws in the social, relational, mental, emotional, and financial domains in his intelligent design of our universe. So, why my reaction to this term?

I have come to realize that I am wary when one person, or even a group of people, asserts their truths as laws from their limited perspective. As a statistician, I know that even the most expansive research has limitations. I also think in the ensuing fifty years, I have found that in the Biblical context, Jesus showed the fallacy of rigidly following the Law. He was mostly criticized by the experts in the Law. As you read the New Testament, we find that those who knew their over seven hundred laws were the most judgmental of others. They used their understanding of the Law to keep others at a distance and even killed Jesus because he refused to follow their laws as they saw them.

In the end I believe my aversion toward the term laws is probably a result of all the points I give above.  And I do believe there are laws that God has designed into the universe.  However, I also believe that when one person or party asserts that they have laws that apply to all people of all time, apart from divine truth, I am uncomfortable. I understand those who killed Jesus felt they did have their laws by divine revelation, but their source of authority was prior religious teachers, not the God of scriptures. 

It is difficult in our day, with so much knowledge available to each of us through the touch of a keyboard, to believe there are laws that govern many areas of our lives.  It seems to me that people tend toward extremes on this subject; some live by laws, and others abhor them.  I would put it this way: Practices are plenty, Laws are few, Practices will change, Laws never do.

For me, life is best lived within the freedom of your practices, while within the security of your laws.

*Sullivan, Dan; Nomura, Catherine. The Laws of Lifetime Growth. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.






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