“If I just ______, life would be perfect.”
You filled in the blank, didn’t you?
If I just made more money…
If I just got married…
If I just got my dream job…
If I just lost weight…
If I just got rid of my bad habits…
If I just had more friends…
I’m sure some of those were things you filled in the blank. None of those are bad things. In fact, some of them are great things.
But they’re not going to fix you.
Over the past year, I’ve lost almost 60lbs. Which is crazy, now that I actually type out the number. It’s been great, and I feel so much better physically and emotionally. But you know what? It didn’t fix me. I’m still broken and messed up and I have a lot more things to work on.
You will be frustrated with your life as long as you try to fix it or hope someone else or a new career or more money will fix it. We are not problems that need to be fixed, but people meant to be loved by a Heavenly Father.
God formed you out of nothing but dust and love and a dream. You weren’t designed to be fixed. You were designed to be loved.
I used to have a life plan.
Not necessarily a written down, detailed plan—but a plan nonetheless. It was the same plan most people have in America: I would go to college, get a great job, marry this girl, have 2.3 kids, drive a certain car, and live in the best neighborhood with an awesome house. And if I followed the imaginary plan, life would be perfect—right?
I don’t have a plan like that anymore. Sure, none of those are bad things—in fact, some of them have happened and some likely will happen—but the problem with following these types of plans precisely is that I rarely find God working in those details.
Instead, I find Him working in the places I didn’t plan on going. I find Him working in the waiting. I find Him working when I stop trying to work so much for Him.
At some point, I realized life was much more rewarding when
Jesus was in charge of planning it, and not me.
I’m afraid that in our pursuit of the American Dream, we often miss out on seeing how incredible God’s work in our lives and in the world can be. When you choose to obey God above all else—including your pre-designed life plan—you’ll find that He’ll have you do things that are a little weird and a little scary. But when you put your entire life on the line trusting in His promises, He will always, always be faithful.
Since I was a kid, I’ve lived in many different houses and an apartment. I never thought anything special of those houses when I lived there—but now, I always think it would be great to go back and visit—to see how it’s changed, to remember the places where memories were made, and to see how other people are making their own memories there.
It occurred to me today that my current residence will likely be the same way. I don’t think much of it now, and some days I just really want to move—into a better apartment, house, or whatever—forgetting the fact that one day I’ll look back here and remind myself of the memories and time spent here. The stressful move in, the excitement of a new adventure, the monotonous reality of everyday life—the times here when God came through even when it seemed like He wasn’t going to do anything at all. Those memories.
I don’t want to miss those memories anymore. I want to live them, every single day. I want to squeeze every drop out of life, like a kid licking an ice cream cone until every bit is gone.
We’re all on a journey somewhere—and often, the temptation is to not bring anyone else along until we get there. Life is happening every second, and if we’re too caught up in what we don’t have or where we need to go, we’ve entirely missed the point. It’s not about where we end up that really matters, but who we became along the way, and who we brought with us.
And I think one day we’ll look back and smile, and I bet God will too, grateful He gave life to His kids who enjoyed the gift so well.
Recently, a friend of mine was talking about his future hopes and dreams. I knew that what he was saying was something he was passionate about, so I encouraged him to pursue it more.
“It’s not possible for me to do,” he sighed.
That was one of the saddest conversations I’ve had, because my friend failed to realize that the fact that he wasn’t able to accomplish his dream on his own was not a bad thing.
I believe that everyone single person has a dream. Big dreams. Impossible dreams. We-could-go-broke-and-lose-everything kind of dreams. These dreams, I’m convinced, are often God-whispered. God often will give us big, impossible dreams—because we can’t accomplish big, impossible dreams without Him.
God loves to give us dreams that are
impossible to fulfill without Him.
If you are actually able to accomplish every hope and dream you have with your own effort and hard work, it’s not big enough. Don’t insult God by dreaming too small.
There is a God who loves you, is for you, and delights in fulfilling His dreams through you. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, of course—but it’ll be worth it.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”
— Isaiah 43:2 NLT
“I’ve been meaning to talk about that issue on our team.” “I was intending to talk to you about that idea.”
Have you noticed that there’s a gap between our intentions and our reality?
Here’s the thing: there’s not a single top-notch, high-performance organization that was built with people who had good intentions.
Any great organization that you know of became a great organization because their people propelled the vision and mission forward by action and not by intention.
So what’s at stake?
If you continue in the path of having good intentions and not sparking action, someone else on your team will begin to take things into their own hands. And that person will begin to become the de facto leader, no matter their title or place in the org chart. And if you’re a bad leader, you’ll end up firing them. But if you’re a great leader, you’ll join them and do whatever you can to help them.
Recently, I handed over a project that was, for lack of a better term, my baby.I poured months and months of my heart and soul into this project.
So when it came time to hand it off to someone else, I had the normal questions in my mind: “What if they mess it up? What if all that work was for nothing?” I think those questions are fairly normal.
Then came the ugly question that I wish I didn’t ask. The question that shows that I, in fact, have a prideful heart:
“What if they do it better than I did?”
This question shows that I was still holding on to something I had no right to hold on to. I had it let it go.
Great leaders aren’t afraid of people who might be better than they are. Great leaders aren’t afraid of younger versions of themselves who might work them out of a job. Great leaders aren’t afraid of letting go.
I’ll let you in on a secret: it was never yours to begin with.
Every single project, person, or thing under your influence is ultimately not yours. If you’re a Christian, than you understand that God owns it all, and we are just stewards of what He’s given us for the short period of time we had with it.
Let me pose a couple of questions:
Is it possible that your pride is getting in the way of your growth? Is it possible that you’re facing obstacles ahead of you, but you’re really the obstacle?
Great leaders don’t hoard and hold on. Great leaders let go.
This morning I went in for my semi-annual dental cleaning. As the dentist was talking over my dental history, he asked me a question that had much further implications than simply my oral hygiene:
“What’s bothering you?”
Of course, he could have asked me, “Does anything hurt?” or “Do you floss daily?” but my dentist is a smart man. He knew that to get an accurate answer he had to ask the right type of question. In our culture, we’ve become complacent about asking questions that elicit safe answers.
“How’s it going?” “How’s work been?” “How are you today?”
None of these are bad questions — unless you’re looking for an honest answer. Here’s the thing: no healthy relationship survives with these questions alone. How many successful friendships do you have where the only thing you ask each other is, “Hey, how’s it going?” Or what about the healthy marriages that solely rely on, “How was your day?”
Successful relationships, both personal and professional, require asking difficult questions.
Personally, I love the question that my dentist asked, because it doesn’t allow room for safe answers like “good” or “fine.” It makes us take a deep breath, look around, and face the tough reality around us.
So, let me pose a question for you …
What’s bothering you?