Jerry DeWitt was in the news quite a lot this summer for his book, Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism. He was a Pentecostal pastor in a small Louisiana town, part of the community's spiritual fabric. But after 25 years of ministry, he decided that he didn't believe in the idea of Hell. This led him to question first his faith, then all faith, and ultimately the existence of God. Today, DeWitt has become an atheist activist.
I'm dumbfounded by the courage of such a change. To turn your back on a belief system that has defined your entire life-and the community and culture that surround that belief system-seems impossibly difficult. DeWitt has said that when he first let go of his faith, he lost all possibility of hope. But he didn't rush back to a belief that he no longer held; he went looking for people who had already gone through what he was going through.
We all have beliefs we cling to, and in many ways, define us. Some they are about religion or politics, while others might be about ethics or the best way to lead an organization. In every case, those beliefs are comfortable. What if they're wrong? What if the best way to reach new heights of performance and growth is to question them - examine them in the harsh light of reality and how they are serving you at this moment? This is never easy. It can leave us feeling frightened, alone, and without support. Yet doing so can also open new doors to growth, discovery and purpose. Sometimes, leaving the safe harbor of comfortable beliefs is the only way to find the truth.
What unquestioned beliefs are you clinging to that limit your highest levels of performance, growth and fulfillment?