Are You Slipping into Third World Status?

Listen to the commentary


Dear Marketplace Friend,

It’s one of the most memorable cultural phrases from a Supreme Court decision. In 1964, Justice Potter Steward – in Jacobellis v Ohio – explained the definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” 

What are the essential differences between the First World and the Third? When you return home from an international trip to distant places, the contrast is stark: “I know it when I see it.”

The distinctions are immediately apparent: the Third World lacks functional infrastructure. That’s not an appealing accoutrement in most modern minds, but it’s foundational: “infrastructure” is the essential building blocks of the economy and the quality of life.

For civilized society: water, sewer, power and roads are non-negotiables. Remove them from the scene, and the stone age emerges. Someone has to create and maintain those non-negotiables for life to continue at the level that advanced cultures assume as an entitlement. Eliminate any of those critical components, and you have a virtual Gaza.

In your personhood, your infrastructure is similarly necessary. Body, mind, soul and spirit demand attention before any of the other pursuits of life are sustainably served. Physical fitness, intellectual acuity, emotional vitality and spiritual certainty are crucial for quality of life but cannot be assumed without continuing self-disciplines and diligent attention.

Here’s a challenge that warrants some time to ponder: in which of these four dimensions of your personal core are you currently operating in abundance? Are there any categories in which you can foresee shortfall or stall because of deferred maintenance? Is there some part of your framework where you’re just idling at a tolerable – but, unremarkable – status that is short of your potential?

We’re just two months from “New Year’s Resolution” time. I wonder: is it too early to start imagining where your next infrastructure project could emerge to accelerate your movement into an even-better 2024 future?

Your Body: maybe it’s time to schedule time with your primary doc, to confirm that your health is aligned with your age. The self-guilt that serves as a reminder of the wellness regimes that allow the extension of your days into the possibilities of your tomorrows are within reach. How will you kick your physical condition up a notch in ‘24/Q1?

Your Mind: have you settled into a pool of knowledge that isn’t expanding through your deliberate pursuit of new discoveries to enrich your information base? Leaders are still readers; your book stack may be single-focused – perhaps distractive fiction, or category-specific career building – but lacks the chance to broaden your grasp of history and humanity. What books will you order for your winter reading?

Your Soul: this is relationship-central, and a category of personal assets that is always either growing or groaning. Left to entropy, friendships disappear with distance and disconnection. The deliberate reengagement with family and friends – while burying hatchets and resolving insignificant differences – builds a reservoir of connectivity that becomes ever more valuable over time. Who needs a call – or, a note – from you, to jump-start some relational enrichment?

Your Spirit: the part of you that came alive through your redemptive faith in Jesus requires constant care and attention to be the ultimate gap-closer when the contribution of body, mind or soul comes short of the demands of daily life. The spirit that will deliver you to Heaven one day has the capacity to enrich your daily experience – through the anticipated and the ambushed hard times – as you await the promise of Eternity that is the ever-certain ultimate. Will 2024 be your year to read through the Bible, either again or for the first time?

Regarding your personal infrastructure: are you Third World, or First? Don’t settle…

Bob Shank

About The Author

4 thoughts on “Are You Slipping into Third World Status?”

  1. As usually, Bob, timely and provocatively worth pondering.
    Reading The Divine Conspiracy, after having read Becoming Dallas Willard by Gary Moon. An uber-exercise of/for my mind!

  2. So Great, thank you so much for sharing. Going to start a 1 Corinthians study with my wife to do some mind, soul, & spirit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

Register for the Free Training!


Disclaimer: by registering for the training, you are opting-in to receive emails for the Free Training Content.