You and I are about to launch into a brand new year. For some of us, we have been looking forward to putting the past 365 days behind us. They were painful. We were let down over and over again. For others, flipping our calendar to the next year is just “what we do”. We don’t bother getting excited about the coming year, because hopes and dreams don’t pay the bills. Yes sir, that crowd is ready for a go-along-to-get-along 2018. And still, there are some who do have desires that this year will be different….yet they start January 1 with their “if only” statements more polished than ever before.
For the longest time, I was content with shooting for the closest target; the safest goals that would ensure a miniscule boost to carry me through the year. I played it safe because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, let alone confident that God had big plans for my life and had equipped me to carry them out. I encouraged my students, my colleagues, friends, and my wife to reach for their highest potential, and that “if only” (insert excuse for the moment) would pan out in my favor, with no sacrifice or effort on my part, I would join them. But that didn’t happen because, you see, you and I get very comfortable with making excuses for not trying. Some of you reading this now, are already thinking of things like, “Well, James, you have no idea of the things I face…” That’s true. And you don’t have a full picture of the things I face each day either. However, our separate experiences aside, what we both do have in common is the choice to stop making excuses for not even trying.
And so, as I thought about the year to come, I offer the following encouragement, as we dream ahead for 2018:
- Fire everyone in your excuse department—including yourself, as the highly paid & experienced executive director. You are not too old, too uneducated, too poor, too unhealthy to do what you have been wired to do – unless you make the choice for your life to be that way. I love you but your excuses drive me and others around you crazy because no matter how you package them, they still are just another reason why you are choosing to not even try. All of us have challenges in life. It’s the “what next?” that counts in the long-term.
- DO IT RIGHT NOW! This statement became my model for 2017, because I was good at starting something and then saying, “Oh, I’ll get to it later.” – which by the way is code word for, “It’s not important” – often because making a decision was scary at the moment. Now, there are some things that must be prioritized over others. I mean, there’s not a reason to think over whether you should put out a fire or fold the laundry. Obviously, I am referring to our pursuit of procrastination. Call yourself out! I did it and it was great! “James, NO! You are going to get this done even though you are scared!” “No! You are going to fill this out even if it doesn’t work out because you are more than capable!” You and I move heaven and earth to do what is important.
I’ll share #3 and #4 tomorrow!