Our True North

Earlier this week, my son, Phil, and his wife, Sarah, went with Donna and me on a nighttime sailing adventure on Buckeye Lake. The evening was beautiful and breezy, with a nearly full moon lighting our way. The boat skimmed across the water as we enjoyed the evening scenery. Even though the lights from the surrounding villages and the glow of the moon muted the brightness of the stars, we were still treated to a lovely display of celestial splendor.

NorthstarAs we peered at the stars we began to talk about the North Star, Polaris, and how it could be found by using the “pointer stars” on the Big Dipper constellation. I explained that the North Star is the only star in the northern sky that doesn’t move as all of the other stars seem to travel in an arc around it as the earth rotates. Phil told Sarah that, as long as you could see the stars in the sky, you can always find north by first locating the Big Dipper, then using it to find the North Star and, thus, true north. Since ancient time, travelers in the Northern Hemisphere have used the North Star and the tools of dead reckoning to determine their location. Even with all this talk of navigational techniques, when it was time to head back we still had to look around a bit to figure out where we were on the lake and the best way to get back home!

The late leadership guru, Stephen Covey, popularized the idea of “true north principles” in promoting his style of organizational leadership. Claiming a global consensus around these timeless truths, Covey defined true north principles as fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service, and patience. While Covey admitted that there was not always agreement on how these principles should be defined, he said that most civilized people have agreed on their merit. And I think he is right. Even immature children and hardened criminals maintain a sense of what fairness or honesty look like. The problem is that there is a tendency in sinful human nature to define these principles in terms of what is best for “me.”

For Christians, our Polaris, our true north, is embodied in Jesus Christ who “was full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Because Jesus was and is full of grace and full of truth we can know that his words are reasonable and honest. The writer of Hebrews instructed us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Our internal compasses should always orient themselves to the instruction we find in the Word of God because, as the author, Jesus wrote the book.

Jesus made a “true north’ claim about Himself when He said:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (ESV)

Jesus did not say “I am a way, a truth, and a life.” Nor did He say “One of the ways to the Father is through me.” He left no options. He is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth, and the ONLY life, and He is the ONLY way to come to the Father. He proved the validity of the claims He made by defeating death…something no one else has ever done.

If the compasses of our lives are orienting us toward Jesus as our “true north” we will never be lost.


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