What did you think your life would look like when you were ten years old? When you were growing up did you dream of being something cool like a pro athlete or an astronaut, or were you really jazzed thinking about living in the suburbs with a minivan? I’m just saying that most astronauts don’t drive a Chevy Astro. I will speak for all men that at one point in our lives we had big dreams and wanted to be world changers. We were going to impact the world and make a significant difference in the lives of others. Many of us set lofty goals and boldly took steps towards them. Some have been successful in these efforts and have been blessed to live out their dreams. Others decided to bow out at some point and took a different route. Maybe God had a different plan for them, or maybe it was something else.
At some point in our lives we have all settled for something less than we wanted. By the way guys if you think it’s your wife, keep your mouth shut. Sharing those feelings with her will not make for a pleasant evening. Maybe you tried your best and it was something out of your control that tipped the scales against you. Then there are others who have a tough time looking in the mirror and taking ownership of a situation. They make excuses like “the hill was just too steep to climb” or believe the lie that “they are not good enough”. I am here to tell you that God wants HIS best for us and does not want His beloved sons to settle for what they only think they can get. When we settle it comes with a hefty price tag and sometimes regret accompanies it. We make the decision to accept something that is average when God had exceptional right around the corner.
Today I want to share three points with you about staying focused and not settling for less than God’s best. Our Lord and Savior has an abundance of blessings stored up for us and when we make the decision to stay within His will, He gets to rain them down upon us like a monsoon in July. The path traveled is usually bumpy like an old country road, but the benefits you reap will be life changing.
It says in the book of Proverbs that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” I am a firm believer in having men who you can go to for wisdom and also those who hold you accountable. In a perfect world these men do both. For me personally I have a seven-member advisory board that I go to for business and personal advice. In addition to their success stories both on and off the athletic fields, they are also great coaches, savvy businessmen and most importantly good husbands and fathers. They are God-fearing men who I have watched over the years and now consider myself blessed to call them my friends. They also have been given permission to speak into my life and call me out when I need it. They also care deeply about me and my family and take the time to pray for us.
In addition to my advisory board I also have two “Paul’s” in my life. Bill Crawford and Mike Stanley are men who pour into my life. They are seasoned vets and have traveled down life’s path longer than I have. That’s basically a nice way of saying they’re old farts. I do my best to speak with them on a weekly basis and update them on how things are going. When times are really tough, they are on my speed dial and I have “adopted” both of them as my Dad. One day Mike and I went out to lunch and he asked me if my Dad ever gave me a verbal blessing. I said he didn’t, so Mike asked permission if he could do this for me. I can’t put into words the feelings that came over me and how special I felt leaving the restaurant that day. It was something I only read about in the Bible and now I got to experience my “father” passing a blessing on to me. It is something that I will do with my sons, Connor and Bryce.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
In order for us to accomplish a goal we need to formulate a plan and then go out and do our best to execute it. About ten years ago Aeneas Williams came and spoke at our church. He is an NFL Hall of Fame defensive back and now the Pastor of The Spirit Church in St. Louis, MO. His message was very insightful and impacted me greatly. The main point he talked about was taking the necessary steps towards your goal. At some point if your efforts are not successful and you realize that you have done all you can, then leave the rest up to God. There are doors that only God can open regardless of how hard we work or how many connections we have. At some point we need to “Let Go and Let God”.
The image you see is a card that I keep in my wallet. My Mom and Grandma had this poem in the form of a magnet that was placed on their refrigerators. It was one of many inspirational sayings that they both had littered on the side of them along with family photos. I would look at these items every day and they gave me friendly reminders on having perspective in life. I firmly believe that it is very important that we step out in faith and act on what we believe God is calling us to do. God does answer prayers and shows up when we don’t expect it in miraculous ways, but He is also not some genie in a bottle that you can rub the right way while sitting around eating Cheetos on your couch. Sorry about the Christina Aguilera reference. My bad if that song is now in your head…..
“In the same way, by faith itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”James 2:17 (NIV)
One thing I have learned about writing is that you need to get creative when attempting to bring an impactful message that people will remember. I wanted the three points to all start with the letter “A” and when praying about this, the first two came easy. The next one was tough, so I went to my trusted friend, thesaurus.com. When I put in the word prayer, the first thing that popped up was appeal. Thank you, Jesus. When someone makes an appeal, they are making an earnest request for help. To go a step further you could use the word plea. To me an appeal is more than just praying to God. It is when you come to a place of despair and you cry out to Him for help. It is a when we surrender our will to Him.
Surrender is a powerful word. Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear it is a form of weakness. I imagine an army waiving a white flag and basically saying “we quit”. However, when we surrender our will to God, we make the decision to trust in His plan instead of ours. We get vulnerable and say, “Daddy, I trust you and I know that you have YOUR best for me”. Hitting your knees is not a place of failure, it is a posture of strength and faith. If you are struggling in a situation right now and doors keep getting slammed in your face, stop fighting a battle you can’t win. Hit you knees and pray to God for wisdom and strength. Give your situation up to Him and trust that the outcome will be more unbelievable than you could ever imagine. It usually is.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Here are some things to think about this week and apply to your life:
- Believe in God’s best plan for your life
- Surround yourself with wise counsel and good friends who care about you.
- Take the necessary steps towards your goal, and then leave the rest to God.
- Pray daily about the situation you are in and when it is complete, stay in a consistent routine of prayer
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