In a speech of C.S. Lewis' that I recently read he described a fundamental reality that each of us are engaged in. It is the quest of what he calls the "Inner Ring." In Lewis' address he was specifically applying this "Inner Ring" to the sphere of the workplace but the Inner Ring exists everywhere. It's the network of leaders you want to be in with. Or the group of guys that get together regularly without inviting you. It's the people who have fun, throw big parties and enjoy life together. It's the crowd of families that get together to socialize and let their kids play together, but your family is not in on it. It's that circle of authors that you're striving hard to become part of. It is any group that you see external to yourself that you feel you should be part of, and in some capacity, for whatever reason, you're not on the "in" with right now.
We're all looking on the outside at Inner Ring clubs we long to be identified with. The problem, and the driving factor in reaching these inner rings lies in the fact that they are often just beyond our grasp. They lie at the fringe of our abilities or relationships and sit a fingers width away, but are incapable of being had. Unless…
Unless we become what we are not. Lewis' speech was given to young college-aged leaders getting ready to graduate and his point was to warn them in advance of the seduction of compromise in morals, values, and responsibilities to obtain entrance into that Inner Ring. For some moving the line of our morals to achieve partnership in our desired Inner Ring Club is a step to far, but becoming what we are not. To achieve the desired end we will justify the means and shifts of our calling, character, and souls to gain that elusive platform or degree or recognition. We will become what we are not.
I bring this up to personally wrestle with my own motives and pursuits of Inner Rings. Not every Inner Ring is evil or undesirable, nor is every motive or reason for pursuing a certain Inner Ring filled with idolatry and wanton abandon to the character of Christ. But in the pursuit of my Inner Rings I am beginning to see at least a distortion in perspective. In this way I am becoming what I am not.
How do we break ourselves from the pursuit of the Inner Rings? Lewis spoke of it this way,
The quest of the Inner Ring will break your heart unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourselves all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it.
I would encourage you to pick up Lewis' volume The Weight of Glory and give his essay "The Inner Ring" some time.