Why PRAXIS? You made up this word, right?

>>Praxis is not, in fact, a new word. It comes from Medieval Latin, and originally from Greek. Outside the etymology of the word, it just sounds cool, right? Not the kind of cool that you’d name your car or your dog, but more the kind of cool that you’d name a blog…maybe.

There’s a lot of loaded meaning in praxis. It’s been around for a while, and it’s been associated with the movement of God before as well. Even though, I don’t mean to completely divorce it from that aspect, I am taking some license and using it more in its ancient connotation.  Praxis basically means the practice of a theory, lesson, or skill. I like to think of it as the embodiment of information. Praxis is a word that represents how something as ephemeral and conceptual as informational translates into reality. More specifically in my context, it’s the resulting action of the machine built by our thoughts, biases, beliefs, and heredity. It is the observable action that shows itself in the repetition and daily practice of living life. Wait, maybe I’d better read that again!

>>the praxis engine

In one aspect, Praxis is the expression of true belief. Imagine your life as a machine – some incredibly complex construct built of individual parts. Each part represents an experience, or inclination, or fear, or hope, or motivation. All of these parts interact with one another and connect in ways that impact the others. All these construct the machinery of self. We’re aware of some of them, but they all have an effect. As we crank it up each morning when we awaken – the praxis of this life motor is revealed in our actions, habits, and interactions throughout the day. This complex internal machinery results in some expression of action or movement. That expression of our internal life machinery is our Praxis.

praxis of movement

The natural praxis of this engine is movement!

At its heart, Praxis is a natural expression of what exists, as opposed to a more artificial, forced expression. Just like any machine’s natural action can be countered with enough effort, a Praxis can be overcome with enough effort.

Imagine a 67 Pontiac GTO. The sole purpose of that machine is to get the pedal to the floor and awaken all 368 of the horses under the hood in order to move forward faster! But even the 438 ft·lb force of that engine can be countered with enough chains holding it to a bridge pylon or a battleship or something. The engine stil roars, and the tires spin, but the Praxis of forward movement is countered.

Imagine a more personal example. My Praxis should be to encourage and build up my wife on a daily basis – for her good, for my own good, and for the sake of God’s kingdom. I’ve just stated three good reasons to promote this idea, and there are a hundred more. I can have a perfectly rational understanding of all those reasons, yet if I frequently speak harshly to her, or say things that tear her down, or ignore her needs and desires – my Praxis is something different. Despite all my flawless reasoning and understanding of what I should do, the praxis of my life produces something different.

>>clarity changes everything

Imagine that my life engine is cluttered with so many conflicting experiences, motivations, misunderstanding, and fears that there appears to be no action at all. The motive forces of my life pull me in conflicting directions that cancel out and I become paralyzed, or it’s simply so complex that the simplest actions are predicated on complex mechanisms like a Rube Goldberg Machine (you should watch this YouTube video if you haven’t seen it). These Praxes show massive activity but little end result.

The organization that I work with, Auxano has a mantra, “Clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything.” And when it comes to Praxis, that must be the starting point. What are you here to do? There are 4 other questions that must follow that one, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll hold them for another conversation. If I am not stunningly clear about my purpose, how can I even begin to evaluate the effectiveness of my life and ministry?

So my goal as an individual (and for this blog) is to learn to adopt healthy, God-designed structures in my life that result in a Praxis that equals effectual success – in all the broad context of that word (healthy spiritual, physical, intellectual, and relational movement). I will posit that to gain a different result, different thinking is needed – and thus again the reason for this blog. I want to share what I have gained through error and good teaching, and learn from you in the same context.

Do you share the same hunger for carnivorous learning? Leave your comments in the section below – and answer the following question for yourself:

What are three significant experiences in my life that I see forming my Praxis?



Who are you, Tony Bowick: Thought Leadership in Faith and Life Principles

>>So, this is the requisite intro post that tells my readers a little bit about who I am and what I mean by thought leadership. It won’t be funny, I guarantee, because I’m a boring guy. You may ask (and you probably should):

“Why should you read what I write?”

Because I’m boring in such a valuable way! Think back on the care-free days of High School. Do you remember all those things you were forced to learn in school, that you sardonically asked, “When am I ever going to use this?!” It usually happened to me in math classes. For you engineers out there, it probably happened around grammar rules in English class.

Just Recompense

Well, as I moved beyond the caricature of high school melodrama, it turns out that most people who want to do more than wait on tables, need to know a lot of the stuff that just seemed so superflous and boring at the time. All that jazz in high school (no…not the glee kind of jazz) seemed so out of touch and pointless because it didn’t address my felt needs. It had nothing to do with relationships – which is the majority of what the felt needs of school revolve around. So most of those obscure mathematical principles or MLA bibliographical guidelines never showed up on my radar. I’m willing to bet most people share that sentiment.

>>what i learned

The most valuable thing I learned in school (second only to: milk left alone in your locker becomes yogurt) is, if I’m only valuing things that address my felt needs, I’ll always be in a reactive mode, and will rarely be equipped for the future. Think about that for a minute. If the lion’s share of my energy is wrestling with trying to wring clarity and meaning from a challenging present, I’ll always be struggling with the present. It’s like a person who never learns to live beyond paycheck-to-paycheck mode – they never have the economy to prepare for the future. I’ve been exposed to some great thinkers and thought leaders – and I’ve come to realize that I’d much rather struggle with the future and enjoy the present – no matter what it is.

CS Lewis expresses a concept that when we are happy, we are fully in the moment, and that as soon as we begin to examine our happiness, we’re no longer in that happy state, we have shifted to an analytical state of mind – that to recognize our happy state, we must by necessity disconnect from it somewhat in order to examine it. I want to experience my present as fully as possible, and to do that I must be more analytical about the future. This blog will be about thought leadership, about recognizing and discussing principles that just make life work better! I want to discuss some of what I’ve seen others model, some of what I’ve learned, and some of what I hope will become part of my praxis in the future. Because I am a highly spiritual man, and a pastor – a lot of that will revolve around what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and how that plays into the church.

>>what would he do?

For instance, consider Jesus going about his daily ministry. He was often surrounded by crowds of people, some needing healing, some guidance, some provision – all of them needing salvation (from sin, from stifling Jewish legality, from Roman oppression). Jesus’ ministry was on mission – it had crystal clarity, and he exemplifies thought leadership. He did not spend all his time addressing felt needs. It must have broken his heart to walk by people and leave their needs unmet, but he did for the sake of accomplishing his father’s mission. He rejected opportunities because he was addressing the tumultuous present with the future in mind. Mat 8:18-22

So this is the end of the boring introduction, in which I try to excuse my lack of entertainment value by convincing you that there are things worth spending time considering and discussing, that pay big dividends in the future. The problem is, my teachers were never able to convince me of that – I had to wrestle with the troubling and confusing present, lacking clarity for years before I began to think differently.

So…if you’re a thought wrestler – maybe we should get to know each other. Maybe this blog is for you. I know that I want to learn from you. Take a minute and answer this question in the comments below:

What one thing have you wrestled with because you were not equipped when it appeared in your life?

Next up: >>Why PRAXIS?