There is just this strong temptation to take short-cuts. I want to adopt a “no short-cut” mentality for the next 10 years of my life. Hard work. Grind it out. Do hard things. Do the heavy lifting. Refuse to accept mediocrity.
Adopting this mentality can radically re-orient how I see, interpret and experience God.
Every age has had is particular enemies. Today’s western world lives and breathes a Gospel of Now. Instant gratification is the way of our culture. It’s the norm, the expected.
The Gospel preaches a radically different message – it is one of waiting, laboring, suffering for God to move in His time. It’s about Him, not me.
I’m tempted to take short-cuts in work, in life, in relationships – short-cuts in money trying to make big hits vs. slogging it out slowly and patiently.
Harvesting is a simple principle. What I put into something directly impacts what I can expect to get out of it. My marriage. Exercise. The yard. Deer hunting. Budgeting/planning. A job as a salesman. Investing in relationships with others. If I do the hard work, I get the results. Our culture is losing this – we don’t want the hard work…we want to eat pizza and not get fat. We want a hand out.
The economic downturn didn’t so much cause problems as it did to reveal them. The problems were already there and began years ago – people living way beyond their means refusing to adopt the “no short-cut but harvest” approach. As Andy Stanley says, “Direction, not intention, determines our destination” – not our hopes, dreams or even our prayers. No, we win/lose based on the path we get on.
Something about short-cuts is mighty appealing. And yet, Proverbs 27:12 reminds me – “The prudent see danger and take refuge but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Usually when things go south, I play the victim card or the fairness card. “How could God let this happen to me?” In truth, my greatest regrets in my life are my fault, not God’s. It’s a path I got on out of foolishness and I paid for it. Deep in my heart, I believe wrongly that I am way too smart to make decisions that will adversely affect my life. You can’t trust your heart. Solomon said (Proverbs 12:15), “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Wise people listen to counsel and prosper. Fools don’t…and…don’t. And remember, success of all types is intoxicating and intoxicated people don’t usually make the best decisions. So approach each decision with humility.
3 good questions to remember on big decisions…
Start with Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight” and then…
- Why am I doing this? Really? What’s my real motive?
- If someone in my circumstances came to me for advice about this same decision, what would I tell them?
- In light of my past experience and my future hopes/dreams – what is the wise thing to do?
And remember – “choices now, outcomes later”. The decisions today will have ramifications down the road. Remember this prayer – “Lord, help me see trouble coming long before it gets here. Give me the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.”
It’s time for the hard work, the heavy lifting. Time for accountability and integrity. Time to love doing the right thing with humility. No more home runs. Hit singles, maybe a double or two and try to play error-free. Not a lot of glamour in that but a lot of wisdom. I seek not the praise of men but of God above.