Daily Devotions

Life Focus

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We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

In “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” Greg McKeown, describes an interesting and ironic process all successful people face:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.

Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.

Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.

Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.

I’ve often felt sorry for people who are too talented and intelligent across many different areas of interest. When I was in college, I had a friend who was amazingly talented. He could sing beautifully. He could pick up just about any instrument and play it well. He was a talented actor. He could quote Shakespeare as easily as he could work out detailed and difficult mathematical equations. By the time his college career was coming to an end, he couldn’t decide which of the many opportunities to take into the next stage of his life. In the end, the various options crippled him and he couldn’t decide, and ended up frozen into inaction. After about ten years I lost track of him, but in those ten years he still couldn’t find a direction and stick to it.

McKeown calls us to “conduct a life audit” and “eliminate an old activity before starting a new one.” The life audit means looking at how we spend our work life and our personal life. Further, reflect on whom you are spending time. Are you spinning your wheels? Do your activities further your goals? Are your recreational activities renewing you? Are the friends in your life fulfilling you or diminishing you? What changes are necessary to bring you wholeness?

The next step is incredibly challenging and painful. I know a person who starts any number of new activities, and is talented in all of them. The problem is, he is so successful in everything, and his interests so varied, that he is never quite amazing at any of them. He could be a virtuoso guitarist, or a fabulous artist, even a successful race car driver, but he can never totally throw himself into anything long enough to become a virtuoso at any of them.

Today, think about the ways you spread yourself too thin. Prayerfully ask God to assist you in “conducting a life audit” and from there, taking the steps to eliminating old activities. We don’t have to strive for perfection in each activity, but we do need to strive to be our best at something, in order to honor God. Refocusing our life direction gives the Holy Spirit room to guide us to a new and even more meaningful place.

I Hate Elon Musk

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For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. (James 3:16)

 

I hate Elon Musk. It is not his political bent, or even the way he designs his over-priced cars. No, I am just jealous. Elon is 46 years old and he has already created PayPal, Tesla automobiles, and SpaceX. Good Lord, what a success story. Writer, Gonzalo Ziadi, claims, rightfully, that I should not be jealous of Elon Musk. Why? He has money, passion, and fame? Ziadi argues that we should not be jealous, because our personalities are different and we would not be happy trying to experience Elon’s life. For example, I certainly wouldn’t want to live on the edge of failure every minute of every day. Elon Musk is working every waking hour right now, trying to get his Tesla automobiles off the assembly line much quicker. It would literally drive me insane.

Jealousy is a complex issue and, ironically, a basic, primitive, gut emotion. Helping to name the jealousy can assist us in overcoming the pain. Ignoring jealousy can actually tear a person apart. As Ziadi points out, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” Breaking down the roots of our jealousy is important. What are the characteristics of the people of which I am jealous? Are the people we tend to be jealous of, rich, or famous, or handsome? Usually, we are jealous of people who have something we do not have in our lives. For example, I am jealous of people with natural musical ability. There are amazing individuals who just sit down at a piano and play amazing music immediately. It is a skill I just do not possess.

There is a way to overcome jealousy. First, stop obsessing on others. Begin by looking at the skills, abilities, and benefits you have in your life. Next, write down what you enjoy doing. Then, write down the values you stand for who you want to be in this life. Finally, focus on how you can make changes necessary for you to feel fulfilled in your life. When your life is meaningful and fulfilling, you will not have the time or inclination to get envious of others.

Today, reflect on the steps I outlined on overcoming jealousy. When we do, we find out the people we are jealous of are not living a life we would want to emulate anyway. Elon Musk can have his super-cool SpaceX rockets, I have other things I enjoy and love. God has little patience in the Bible for jealousy. God tends to put us to work, as a means of overcoming jealousy. There will always be someone richer, smarter, more talented, and better looking than you and me. But we can carve out our own special life, that we wouldn’t give up for anything in this world. It is about being deliberate in the choices we make, and the goals we choose to achieve. If I want musical ability, I need to carve out practice time. Elon Musk, I guess I don’t hate you that much after all.

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