How do you define Freedom? I think most of us would define freedom or “being free” as having the ability to do what we want to do. I am only free, we might say if there are no limitations on my rights and if I can, without hurting others of course, think and act however I would like.

While I am a proponent of individual liberty and minimum government interference in my life, I am not speaking here about liberty within the context of a political system. That is a conversation to have at another time. I do, however, think that individual or national liberty can be confused with personal freedom if we are not careful.  So what does it mean to be free?

A simple definition that I like to use and one that guides many of the decisions I make in my life is this one:

“Freedom is having the ability to do what you SHOULD do.”

This definition is not complicated or particularly deep, but if understood, it has the ability to touch every area of our lives. We are only truly free when we are able to do what we SHOULD. Here are some examples:

-As a parent, I need to keep myself in a place financially, physically and emotionally to be the very best dad that I can. This will require discipline, but it will lead to the ability to be what I SHOULD be.

-Physically I need to work hard to stay both healthy and fit so that I can do the various things I need to do. How many people die young or, maybe worse, live a long miserable end of life because they did not take care of themselves. They don’t have the freedom to do important work because they lacked the discipline to work hard so that they could accomplish what they SHOULD.

-Financial freedom is not having all of the money that you want, it is having the resources that you need while also having the ability to do what you SHOULD without the chains of debt. This requires discipline, but it creates freedom.

Many other examples could be given, but the bottom line is this: Don’t ever confuse the freedom to do what you want with the freedom to do what you SHOULD. Define the SHOULD areas in your life, cut out everything that can keep you from getting there and experience real freedom.


Photo by Markus Voetter on Unsplash

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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