It must have been when I was around 8-9 years old when I started noticing products labeled as Eco-friendly or said to not contain any substances that were harmful to the environment. This was obviously well before cellphones, so at certain times your reading material was the label on a bottle of shampoo or air-freshener... I gradually became more aware of the effect of certain "things" on the environment (as did many others reading the back of a strawberry-scented can I would guess)
My awareness of matters impacting the environment (ecological) grew as time passed, but for many years my understanding of ecological was directly linked to the environment and nature only.
If we expand that perception for ecology to include the relationship of our goals and decisions to our immediate environment (family, friends, colleagues, work, relationships, home-life, etc), we can now take the same approach as scientists have and determine the impact of our goals on our eco-systems.
Before we look at how our goals and decisions may impact our ecology, we need to define each of our ecosystems. It is not simply enough to define your work-place as an ecosystem when your goal is linked to your work. Changes can easily impact multiple ecosystems, and some that you may not even have considered to have any relation to your goal. Let's make a list of the ecosystems you need to consider. Mine are below as a simple example
These are just basic examples. But will do for this exercise. Then let's use a fairly common goal (again, simplified for the sake of the example).
Goal: I will be promoted to Managing Director of my division, within the next 24 months.
At face value the goal seems positive and ambitious, and any of your friends and loved ones would encourage you to achieve it. But have we considered the impact on our eco-system? The following questions will help us determine how eco-friendly our goal really is.
Will I benefit from achieving this goal?
Will others benefit from my achieving this goal?
Will I glorify God from my achieving this goal?
Will the achievement of my goal generate a positive impact in general?
Will I be happy with any/all changes to my current situation if I achieve my goal (look back at the section on congruency)?
What will I have to give up/sacrifice if I achieve my goal?
What will I get by achieving my goal?
What will happen if I achieve it?
What will happen if I don't achieve it?
What will not happen if I achieve it?
What will not happen if I don't achieve it?
Take some time and answer these questions. Remember to look at them from the perspective of your eco-systems.
So for example, if you ask yourself "What will happen if I achieve it?", the answer relative to your "Faith" ecosystem may be "I will not be able to attend mid-week prayer services at church.", and for your "Family" it may be "Longer working hours will mean less time spent with the family".
Don't worry if you start feeling a bit uncomfortable while doing this. You may even question your goal and if it is worth it. However, the idea is to make you aware on a sub-conscious level of what the impact would be.
In the same way that a large corporation setting up a new plant will not stop construction if the environmental impact study comes back with a few concerns, neither will you stop moving towards your goal. You adjust your method, your steps, and look at how you can achieve the goal, with a much more ecological outcome.
A Biblical View
The Bible is filled with historical accounts of God's children making decisions that had an impact on their ecology (in the context of our personal "eco-systems"). None stand out more than the impact Jesus Christ, and His decisions had on our lives.
Luke 2:41-51 'His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. '
Though accounts of Jesus' childhood and the period before He was Baptised are sparse, the little that we know is enough to give us an idea of the ecological impact of Jesus' decisions.
The first account we have of a Jesus making a choice is in Luke when instead of heading home with His parents, Jesus decided to stay behind and spend time in His Father's house. His interaction sets the foundation for many to believe that he is indeed the Messiah, as he questions the scholars and has a remarkable understanding of the old testament teachings.
The next fairly big decision Jesus made is found in Luke 4:14-21 where Jesus announces Himself as the Messiah that Isaiah had prophesied of. The immediate impact of His decision to make the announcement was outright rejection by His fellow Nazarenes. So much so that they tried to throw Him off a cliff! The ecological impact was huge. The young man who as a boy played on the same streets and probably had dinner with some of them, now claims to be the messiah! We must accept that as was the case for Jesus, many of our decisions will be rejected and ridiculed. Your decision whether or not to allow that to change your path is up to you.
The choice for Jesus was simple. He knew who His Father was, and knew what He had to do, all the way to the crucifixion and resurrection.
Can you imagine a world where Christ allowed His ecology to dictate and direct His path? At the first sign of his neighbours and the people in the synagogue wanting to stone Him, He could have taken the easy way out and simply said "Bazinga! Got you! Just kidding! Now who wants to break some bread?", and gone back to helping Joseph in the carpentry business. The business may have flourished but would likely have disappeared as insignificant history.
By announcing He was the Son of God and sticking to His guns, we are now more than 2000 years later alive as a result. Had the appeal of a white picket fence home and a few kids running around (yes this is historically inaccurate, humour me) won Him over, our sins would never have been forgiven. No debts paid. No grace. No mercy. That ecology is one we are better off without.
Thank you Jesus!