What does it take to succeed? Is success a consequence of luck, personality, talents, perspiration and focus? I think all of these things can be ingredients to help us succeed and I think there’s another essential component that is often overlooked because it’s simple and obvious:
What you do everyday will predict where you will succeed. I saw this principle play out in my life from some advice from my dentist. It went something like, “Sarah, if you will floss more regularly, our teeth cleaning appointments will be shorter, your gums won’t bleed and your breath will be less offensive.” So I decided to try out this advice & guess what?!?!?? It worked! And I’ve taken this idea and integrated it into my daily routines for areas where I want more success. These are some examples of where I’m seeing more success because of cultivating better routines and habits:
writing: I want to be a better writer, so I’ve been writing virtually everyday for the last few years
intimacy with God: going to bed earlier every night has helped me so that I can get up in the morning to catch some daily time with God
fitness: I’ve been endeavoring to walk, at a minimum, everyday and my pants seem to shrink less from the dryer ,)
I know that God wants us to succeed, so let’s be sure to cooperate and work into our daily routine, habits that will foster successful outcomes!
Over the last several weeks, I’ve been purposely working out to improve my fitness, mental clarity & stamina. It’s been nice this go around for lots of reasons & I’ve experienced some wonderful spiritual lessons:
Beginning is harder than maintaining: starting a spiritual discipline (daily prayer, consistent church attendance, Bible reading, fasting, etc) requires more effort than maintaining the discipline
Social fun: I’ve allowed people to be involved with my exercise & it’s been very enjoyable; the parallel holds true with spiritual growth as well – we need people in our lives on this spiritual maturity journey
Too rigorous: last week, I got a migraine largely because I was too hard on my body; in a similar way, let’s be careful to have a balanced spiritual walk in our daily living
With these suggestions, I pray that you grow spiritually & that your inner man is strengthened with the presence of the Holy Spirit – Eph 3:16 🙂
That would be me, hands down. When I take a jog outside, I suspect that animals scurry, the lithe alert melts down & it feels like my body is in perpetual revulsion mode. So why go through such suffering & cause others to writhe in agony?
Ok, over dramatic, but you get the point.
I jog on occasion for a few reasons:
I want to control my body rather than my body control me
Move it or lose it – I want to stay active for a long time & without action, this desire will turn into a painful delusion
Mental clarity – when my body is tired from physical exercise, oftentimes my mind becomes more alert & keen
Paul said that physical discipline is profitable, even if just a little bit – 1Tim 4:8
Sometimes what doesn’t feel or even look good, is still good for you 🙂
I have teenage kids at home for Summer break. While I enjoy their company, I’m in their lives to help them be successful & time management is part of the drill. Here are some coaching points I’m giving them, that might be helpful reminders for you (and PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS, as well):
Outcome Engineering: looking down the road, what are the big things that need to be achieved? Then develop steps & the timeline that will produce that achievement so it’s doesn’t become overwhelming or impossible by its size or urgency.
Incentives: do the work & save the fun as a reward rather than the reverse
Daily plan: create a daily routine that integrates the steps for the big projects, as well as the habits you want to foster.
Accountability: give someone or a few people permission to ask about your daily plan & progress on the big projects
What are some other things you’ve learned to help you be productive? Thanks for sharing!!
I’ve been reading about Peter in the gospel of Matthew. It seems like his interactions with Jesus go from correction to correction, with some accompanying “atta boy’s”.
For example, despite walking in the water to Jesus, he gets corrected by Jesus for his “little faith” when he gets afraid.
Then, when he identifies Jesus as God’s Son, on the heels of Jesus’ applause, he tries to change Jesus’ mind about going to the cross. Peter gets reprimanded for having his mind on the human rather than divine.
Finally, in Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter suggests making 3 tents to honor Jesus, Elijah & Moses. The voice from the cloud tells him to quit talking & listen to Jesus, Sarah paraphrase.
With great revelation comes the equal quantity / quality of correction. If we aren’t teachable, perhaps that’s why we don’t have great revelation or supernatural experiences. Something to consider over this Father’s Day weekend!
I appreciate watches that work & these do not. Using an unreliable watch is kind of like driving on a tire that needs air – pretty soon, stuff gets messed up! Schedules go awry, anxiety increases, appointments get missed & people get frustrated, not just a little. But all of these challenges can be avoided with a functional watch.
This goes to my point with prayer. Keeping our prayer life in tune, steady & practiced is essential for our internal stability. When my prayer life goes awry, it’s only a matter of time until life hits the fan.
Who’s up to watch & pray with me?
“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.
Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.
Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.
Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!
I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!
And sometimes not.
Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction
Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
Change – correction without change is wasted energy
Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt.
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant.
I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:
Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise.
No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!
We are on the homestretch with this lovely Christmas season & this makes me happy, today. There have been years when I found myself wrapping packages at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, on the verge of an emotional meltdown, feeling overwhelmed with the work I still had to do and no time. Sometimes I can struggle with some procrastination challenges – hmmmmmm
Final countdown modes can help us be hyper-productive. But I think there’s better value in steady and consistent work than massive bursts of energy with stress and pressure.
Here are some things to think about for steady and consistent:
Let’s be consistent with love, particularly with the people who get on our nerves
Let’s be steady with healthy daily routines: eating, working out, drinking water, etc
Let’s stay consistent with growing and improving ourselves in wisdom
The most important thing for our consistency is maintaining our daily Bible & prayer time – nothing keeps us from drowning or being a victim to devotion than this discipline
The other day, one of my kids accidentally shot me in the eye with a rubber band. I wasn’t injured but I was most definitely not happy & immediately proceeded to give this offspring a piece of my mind – not a high quality piece, to be sure. I gave this person a piece of my mind but I had no peace of mind.
Sometimes there’s good value to venting some thoughts & emotions. But let’s be clear that the peace we often seek is more often a consequence of our fellowship with the Holy Spirit rather than an outpouring of our fleshly feelings & words. Have a happy Wednesday!
Presently, I’m trying to work on researching & writing a few sermons in the middle of the roofers at our house almost crashing through the ceiling – at least that’s how it sounds, even with noise cancelling headphones on!!! Holy BUCKETS! So much for the concept of listening to the “still, small voice”!!!! And this is precisely what I totally LOVE about God: God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention & the appropriate volume that will be effective. So thanks to our lovely roofers replacing our hail damaged roof, I’m getting to practice my focus & discipline, paying high grade attention to what God wants to say through me and with the Helper’s assistance, I get to tune in to God’s voice & presence with great intensity and focus. The truth be known, I need this discipline & exercise not only today with the roofers at my house, but also in my everyday, common living. This discipline plus coffee can yield some really awesome divine fruit ,)
There was a catchy pop song in the 80s, “you spin me ’round” that still occassionally gets some play time in my brain. The song reminds me of when I was little and would spin to the point of getting so dizzy that I’d fall down – ring around the rosie (but that’s for another blog). I used to be really amazed at ice skaters and ballerinas who would do the spinning top trick, always wondering how they could do that without falling down. Then I learned their secret – focal point. They spin without falling because they keep their eyes on a main focal point (dancers have an easier time doing this).
So here’s my point: keep Jesus as your focal point so you don’t dizzy & fall down in life 🙂
This Summer, I’m undertaken the adventure with my children of training their weekly domestic organization skills, translation: house cleaning. To make progress on this adventure, I’ve organized some checklists so that it will be clear to the responsible individual when they’ve adequately completed their assignments. Needless to say, the checklists aren’t popular & sometimes, they don’t even like the domestic organization adventure, imagine that ,)
All of that is to say that I guess it’s not really that strange on occasion that we may not like some of the things that God does. At bare minimum, Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines us because God loves us. Discipline, correction and training aren’t always pleasant but most of the time, we like the outcomes, just not the process. So let’s stay in love with Jesus, keeping walking with Him through various processes, training and development. For me, staying in love with Jesus helps make everything better, even training my kids through the exciting domestic organization adventure 🙂
I was reading this morning in Hebrews 12 about how God corrects, just like a loving father corrects & disciplines his children. I used to hate the whole idea of correction & being disciplined. If the truth be told, there has been an arrogance in me about receiving correction. In the past, I had the mindset that I did things so well that I didn’t need correction – which of course set me up for some very serious confrontations and painful corrections. Being corrected & discipline isn’t fun. It hurts. But here are a few points in Hebrews 12 that have helped me about receiving correction:
correction is evidence of love – Heb 12:6; no love, no correction :/
God’s correction is for our benefit – Heb 12:10
when God corrects you, decide to endure & change: don’t faint when God corrects you – Heb 12:5
God’s correction yields good fruit in our lives (peaceful fruit of righteousness) – Heb 12:11
Very few of us like correction. I hated getting corrected when I was a kid – so I tried to be pretty good, or at least sneaky enough not to get caught ,)
We all receive correction regardless of our age. We get corrected at work through performance appraisals, at school through our grades, by the police when we are speeding, etc. The real issue about getting corrected isn’t how we get corrected but rather how we receive correction. Here are some ways to receive correction:
with gratitude or grumpiness
reflection or rejection
soft and tender or hard and brittle
receive or deflect
change or get callous
Let me suggest that we can maximize the correction that we receive by how we receive it. Or, we can wash, lather, rinse and repeat until we make some adjustments 🙂
I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet. I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet. We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world. Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still. Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc. Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.
But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality. For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan. Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.
When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition). I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes. But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.
When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym. It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time. But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.
On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from. Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from? For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.
Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him. Be strong!! 🙂