Can you believe it’s the end of April already? Where has the year gone? It’s a third of the way done and if you’re like me, you feel like so much of what you intended to do with 2017 is left unfinished.
How are those goals coming?
How about those New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t normally set resolutions for myself; a topic I addressed in my very first blog post here: Where Will You Go In 2017. But I see the merits of evaluating and reevaluating to see where my life stacks up from time to time. I’m in that mode right now, especially with this year ticking away.
The busyness of the winter and spring is over. Easter is done. School for my 3 oldest boys is almost done. Soon it will be summer vacation and time to coast, right? In my heart, I want to pull back and just breathe a little. To allow myself to enjoy life and spend time with my family more. Do some yard work. Go to the park. Shoot some hoops with my kids. Go for a walk with my wife.
And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. Even as I type those ideas, I feel a weight being lifted and suddenly I’m a little less stressed (ok full disclosure: Easter is not yet over as I write this and it’s the granddaddy of Christian holidays for those of us in ministry).
But I’d be amiss if I just allowed myself to coast for longer than is necessary. I think we need programmed rest and reflection; an observance of “Sabbath” (see Learning To Rest a blog I wrote on this very topic). I’m becoming more aware of my need for rest the older I get…and I no longer think naps are such a bad idea!
But outside of rest, I believe we are beings created to work and within that work, be artisans, creators, and dreamers. Putting dreams to action takes work. Otherwise, it’s just dreaming. We all know that person that has big ideas and big goals (and a big mouth) but no follow-through. None of us wants to be that person. We want to achieve our dreams. We want to accomplish great things.
This is where “the hustle” comes in. We must realize that nothing happens overnight and no amount of talent or giftedness can replace hard work. The journey involves prioritizing and being deliberate in our pursuit of goals; whether we want to develop a new skill, work toward completing a degree, pursue a career change, or ____ (fill in the blank). What’s your goal and how’s your hustle?
Hustle: (noun) busy movement and activity.
To very practically think about the hustle, there are some key ideas to evaluate. It is assumed that these are within the context of Christian living; meaning you are pursuing God-given dreams and callings. Spoiler alert: if God is at the center of your plans, your rate of success is statistically much higher! But in all seriousness, there is truth in St. Augustine’s quote: "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." In doing so, consider the following 3 points:
1. Examine goals and be realistic in the short and long-term
One reason plans fail is that they are either too vague and undefinable OR they are unrealistic and demanding. Having goals and planning in itself is not a bad thing. And we see in the Bible that we serve a God Who is a planner: But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11 So in serving God, why not spend some time considering goals and committing them to prayer? Allow God to order your steps and then develop goals that are achievable and measurable. A realistic time-frame for a short-term goal might be six weeks. More long-term goals might be 6 months to a year. But do have specific goals written or typed out and then consistently keep coming back to them and reevaluate.
2. Develop accountability
Is there someone in the field you are going into that you trust that can offer accountability and/or mentorship? Is there a person who can routinely ask tough questions as well as encourage you along the way? Usually this is someone more seasoned and at a level you would want to be at some day. The wisdom in the book of Proverbs speaks of this: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 In one particular version, the verse is literally translated “a friend sharpens a friend.” So who are your friends as you pursue dreams? Who can you trust with the things God has placed on your heart and know that he or she will pray for you, encourage you, and run the race beside you? Find those people and ask them to hold you accountable. Share your goals (short and long-term) with them as well.
3. Don’t neglect the spiritual
Once again Proverbs gives us guidance: A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9 When we plan, we must consider the Giver of the plan: the One Who has put the idea in us in the first place. In planning, we draw from the heart; what we love and what we are passionate about. Those are God-given things. But in the planning, there is a dependence upon the Lord that we must develop. This is why so many fail to fully step into their dreams. They want to short-cut or fast-track a dream that the Lord has ordered steps for. We must realize that God is the Dream-Giver but He is also the Path to the dream becoming a reality. We cannot get far without His help and our reliance upon Him for our needs. I believe He wants us to ask Him and as a good Father, He is waiting to bless us and see plans come to life.
So how’s your hustle? A little insight into my life: I started the year thinking "I’ll do a blog". I was a little naive. Doing a blog has implications if I want to do it consistently and post on a regular basis. I decided I’d do a blog for every week of the year; at least for 2017. That’s 52 blogs and an achievable feat if I work ahead and force myself to keep up with it. Of course having people around me who know this goal helps too because they can ask whether or not I’m doing it. It keeps me honest and yeah it might not seem like a big deal, but it does motivate me to stay with it and finish the goal I’ve set.
I don’t know what your goal is. But I do know it takes hustle to achieve it if it’s anything worth doing. There will be voices (within and without) that say “why bother, what’s the use?”. You have to allow yourself to listen to the Voice that called you to pursue the dream, whatever it is. Trust that if God puts something on your heart, He will give you the means and the opportunity to achieve it. Trust Him when there is nothing else left to cling to.
I would love to hear from you! What things are you pursuing and how I can pray for you as you “hustle” towards the goal you have? Love you guys! Be encouraged and be blessed.
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org