We are in the fifth and almost the final part of Guardrails. People keep saying, Was that
the end, was that the end? I’m like, No, there’s more. If you haven’t been with us, essentially
we’ve taken this thing that we’re so familiar with, the guardrail, and we’ve kind of created a
spiritual principle out of it, or maybe just a practical reminder. As most of you know, a guardrail
is simply a system that’s designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit
areas. You’ve never seen the official definition, but if you’ve been here for this series, that may
be the only thing you remember—the official definition of a guardrail. The whole idea of a
guardrail is to keep us from dangerous or off-limit areas. We’ve said every single time in this
series that guardrails aren’t actually constructed or put in the dangerous areas; guardrails are put
several feet back or several yards back from the dangerous area to keep us from getting into
danger. A guardrail will damage your car, a guardrail can damage your body, but the whole idea
of a guardrail is to keep you from having the greater damage.
Now, we began to ask the question in the beginning, what would it look like to have
guardrails in other areas of our lives? We understand the advantage and the idea of a guardrail
when it comes to driving, but what if we had some invisible guardrails in the areas of our lives
where actually we run a greater risk of damaging our lives than simply driving on a freeway?
What if we were to identify areas like our finances and our moral life, our ethical life, our
academic pursuits, our friendships—areas where we would all agree, even though we wouldn’t
agree to the specifics, we would all agree that there are areas of life that if you cross certain lines, you hurt yourself. If you cross certain lines, you increase the potential of your future not being what you want it to be. That if you cross certain lines, it’s going to make relationships more
difficult; if you cross certain lines, it’s going to make your hopes and dreams less attainable. We
would all agree that whether it’s financially, morally, ethically, academically, professionally,
marriage, you pick it—there are things that if you do those things, there are just consequences.
These aren’t even religious things. These are just practical things.
So what would it look like if we were as individuals to create some guardrails to keep us
back from the edge of disaster? So we came up with our own definition of a guardrail. It’s a
standard of personal behavior, which means you pick your own, you make it up for yourself.
And I’ve given you some suggestions, a standard of personal behavior that becomes a matter of
conscience. The idea being there are certain things that when you do in your life you feel like,
wow, that was wrong, and you feel bad—you feel guilty, and there are consequences. What if
you stepped back, created some personal boundaries that everybody else may not agree with?
Other people may look at it and say, why won’t you go, why wouldn’t you stay, why wouldn’t
you do that? And you’ve decided these are my personal boundaries to keep me from getting to
that place where I’ll have real regret. And what if your conscience was so tied into these that
when you violated a personal standard, you felt just as bad and just as guilty as if you’d done
something really bad, and your conscience lights up and keeps you a safe place back from the
edge of disaster.
And what we said throughout this series is that the trick and the reason this is so
important is that culture, our culture—and when I say culture, I don’t mean there’s a boogie man
or there’s a group of people that are after you, I mean just the flow of life, just culture itself.
Culture baits us to the edge of disaster financially, baits us to the edge of disaster in our
marriages, baits us toward affairs, and baits us to the edge of disaster morally or academically or
professionally. Culture just kind of baits us to disaster, and then when we step over certain lines,
what does culture do? Culture chastises us. Oh, you shouldn’t have done that. Oh, that’s gross.
Or, oh, you should’ve been more careful, or oh, you should’ve had more self control. And we’re
like, wait a minute, we just went with the direction culture took us and now culture has turned its
back on us and is kind of saying, “Oh, you’re a loser, you’ll never amount to anything; oh, you
should be ashamed of yourself.” Well, this is just a reality that’s not going to change, so