Somebody once said that when you talk to God, it’s called prayer, but that when you hear Him answer back… that’s insanity.
Well, I’ve been a believer in the Most High for over three decades now, and by that standard, I guess that would make me insane. In fact, He spoke to me just yesterday. Does that sound crazy? Maybe. But I believe it would be crazier still to believe in God for as along as I have, and to never have experienced Him in any way. Now, in my book, THAT would be insanity!
Most often, His still small voice speaks to my soul not to reveal grandiose ideas or the next winning loto number – no. Usually it is to show me where I’m not aligned with Him. On most occasions it is to bring me back from my erring or downright sinful path. Which brings me back to yesterday…
I don’t even remember how it happened as I was under the shower. All I know is that I was thinking about a fellow author who had just written his first book. Engagement on his social media posts showed widespread pre-release interest and engagement. This seemed to foretell that he would probably sell more books in two weeks than I had in six months (although the books were on completely different subjects). Yes, I was envious… jealous even. And that’s when it happened. He spoke to me. He said:
“Thou shalt not covet is not just about your neighbors tangible possessions – his house, his car, his wife. It also applies to your neighbor’s intangible possessions: his influence, opportunities, contacts, abilities.”
WHAM! There is nothing like a reproof from the Lord! I was convicted right then and there. He caught me. I admit, I felt less than holy. It’s what I needed. I repented on the spot. This brought me to consider even more times when I had actually been guilty of that sin. The sin of coveting my fellow entrepreneurs’ success. We don’t always see ourselves as we slip down the subtle and slippery slope of envy. When we do slip however, we must repent.
Here are, what I have found, the most subtle ways we can fall for that covetousness trap:
When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the right connections… unlike someone else (insert mental image here).
When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same opportunities as someone else (insert face here).
When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same temperament as someone else (whose face do you see here?)
When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same resources as (yeah, you know who you’re picturing by now).
One thing that we must come to grips with is this: We don’t have those same opportunities, connections, or gifts because we are two different individuals, on two different life paths, with two different purposes. God doesn’t want to accomplish the same thing with you that He does with others. God wants to sculpt you, use you, and bless you in completely different ways than others.
This all comes down to the illustration given to us in Scriptures by the apostle Paul, in relation to the members of the Church:
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12: 15-19)
Now, I realize that this passage speaks in relation to believers, and that sometimes we are envious or jealous of unbelievers. After all, I know many unbelievers who have much more success than I do. This too can be something we struggle with – perhaps even more so. After all, we reason, “Why does God allow those who have no regard for Him to have more apparent success than those who love Him?” That’s a good question. Asaph, the psalmist, actually wrote about it in Psalm 73. He was frustrated and troubled by this very fact. Read the Psalm, and especially his conclusion. Okay, I’ll save you the trouble. Here is his conclusion:
“Thus my heart was grieved, And I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.”
– Psalm 73:21-28
Indeed, it is folly to think this way; to be envious and covet, whether in regards to believers or unbelievers. As I mentioned earlier, none of us are on the same path. And the tricky part about a life path is this:
No matter how carefully we plan, prepare, hope, or even pray; only God knows what our next stepping stone will be.
In my business we are often told the following:
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Your success is found in your daily routine or agenda.
You have to set goals, etc.
These are all good things. They have been tried, tested, and they are true. However, here is something that overrides all of it:
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
Ultimately, His will overrules our own. His purpose surpasses ours by far. His plans are above our own. Does it mean we should not set goals, plan, or apply ourselves to lead our lives. Of course not. But it does mean we should be able to let go of the things we cannot change. It also means we should focus on our own steps, which are ordained by Him, and stop being envious of where others are going.
Just like Jesus answered Peter when he inquired about his fellow apostle John:
“When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21: 21-22
And that goes for each of us. Jesus could just as easily have told me:
“If I wish for him to have all the success in the world, what is that to you? YOU must follow me.”
Humbly, and no matter what He has in store for you, or for others… YOU must follow Him. Your steps are ordained and your direction is in his mighty hands. If you covet, it is because deep down, you don’t trust Him adequately. This indicates a serious lack of faith, and it is not the way any of us should take.
I will conclude with this admonition from Scripture:
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” (Colossians 3:5-7)
May God bless you as you rely on His abundance and plan for you and put away all covetousness.
This post will be different from those I write usually. I will not give you a leadership teaching, business tips, or personal growth recommendations. This post will be what some of you might call a ‘religious’ post, although I usually tend to shy away from anything deemed religious. So, if you are offended by that, you may just want move on to something else. If not, then by all means keep reading…
You see, I’m an entrepreneur, author, leadership trainer, and coach in the personal development industry – that’s my occupation. But I’m first a foremost a believer in and a child of the most High God. That’s my true identity at the deepest part of myself’.
In recent years, in my profession, I’ve pretty much seen it all as far as B.S. (Belief Systems) is concerned. Yes, B.S. stands for belief systems. What did you think I meant? Ahem, but I digress…
I’ve seen what motivates people, what drives them, and especially what they believe. Here is the short list of the types of people I’ve identified in personal development related businesses (Speakers, Multi-Level Marketing, Sales, Coaching, Entrepreneurship, etc.):
The money driven: Those who are into personal development related businesses mainly because they want more ca$h. Think Materialism.
The hype driven: Those who are into personal development businesses mainly because they like the hype, events, and feeling excited. Think Adrenalin Junkies.
The fluffers: Those who are into personal development businesses mainly because it makes them feel good. They like ‘the Universe’ (whatever the heck that means), fluffy thoughts, unicorns, purple hearts, and feel-good mumbo-jumbo. Think New Age.
The people driven: Those who are into personal development related businesses because they love people and want to help them by adding value to them. Think Humanism.
Pretty much everybody falls into one or more of those categories, with the inevitable combinations that may come from it. Some are money and hype driven. Some are fluffers who love to help people, etc. Most of these people are ignited and highly motivated. They believe in their business and the thought-system they work with. Which is more, most of them sincerely believe they have found their purpose, their higher calling, their bliss.
There is just one tiny problem though… ego. No, I don’t mean a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. I’m talking about the ego that spells E.G.O., which means, Edging God Out.
T.D. Jakes put it this way, and I could’t have said it better:
“Success is irrelevant to purpose. You can be successfully wrong.” – T.D. Jakes
You see, for all the good that I’ve witnessed in personal development related businesses, I have also seen how these ventures have become, in the lives of many, an idol.
Some people’s lives are so empty before they find personal development ventures, that they put all their eggs in this basket once they find it. They sincerely believe that the hole in their heart and life has been filled through it. They cling to it as if their life depends on it. They go all in and are proud of it. And if you try to hint, ever so subtly, that they made an idol for themselves, you will have it coming! Ironically, you will be thought of as (or called) a (take your pick): unbeliever, negative person, someone who ‘doesn’t get it’, small minded, etc. Yes, those who make their personal development related biz into an idol may treat level-minded people the same way as those who are in a cult do when they are confronted about it. Scary!
If the living God is not a part of your life, then your purpose is just based on feelings. It has no firm foundation but self, and although you may think you have found your purpose, it’s only half the story.
There, I said it. No matter how dry, uncharitable, or closed-minded I may sound, I said it.
If you believe you have found your calling, but you are edging God out, you are only living half of your story; because there is no calling without a caller.
To illustrate, let me take the example of the man we have come to know as the apostle Paul. Before he was Paul, he was Saul. Saul believed he had found his purpose and calling. He was prominent in his field among the religious elite of the day. He was highly respected in the community. He had followed all the right courses and trainings at the feet of Gamaliel (think religious Tony Robbins-type superstar teacher of the day). He was, for all intents and purposes, and in the eyes of the people back in the day – the equivalent of a guy who, by today’s standards, was ‘Crushing It’.
So Paul, who was highly motivated and sincerely believed he was following his true calling, was ‘crushing it’ by pursuing and killing Christians. Yes, that was pretty extreme, but stay with me here.
Paul, like so many others today, was following his calling, without the approval of the Caller. It is only when Paul met the Caller that he began fulfilling his true calling.
The Experiencing God devotional, by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby put it this way:
“Before the apostle Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus, Jesus already knew Paul and had a specific assignment for him. But Jesus only revealed this assignment after Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:15). So misguided was Paul that in his sincere efforts to serve God, he had actually been waging war against Christians! Although God knew what He wanted for Paul, He waited to reveal it to him until he gained his attention and became his Lord.
Our Lord does not come to us to discover what we would like to accomplish for Him. He encounters us in order to reveal His activity and invite us to become involved in His work. An encounter with God requires us to adjust ourselves to the activity of God that has been revealed. God never communicates with us merely to give us a warm devotional thought for that day. He never speaks to us simply to increase our (Biblical) knowledge. Our Lord has far more significant things to reveal to us than that! When God shows us what He is doing, He invites us to join Him in the work He is doing.”
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I don’t want to be misunderstood here. There is nothing wrong with loving your biz, your products, your company, or even personal development. As a coach, I actually encourage people to pursue personal development intensively and to have a personal growth plan. There is nothing wrong with that. Also, there is great fulfillment in doing something you are passionate about for a living. I get it, I really do.
My concern, my deepest concern is simply this: People who believe they have found their purpose without God. As a life-coach and believer, this is what grieves me the most. Why? Because if there is one thing that I have understood on this earth-based adventure that we call life, it is that purpose that edges God out is only half the story. Just as Paul knew the Scriptures by heart before His conversion, they only made complete sense to Him after his encounter with the Living Lord.
For all I know, maybe the venture your are hustling in now is part of your purpose – maybe it is linked towhat you were born to do. Nevertheless, I can guarantee this: If God is not part of your life at a deep and personal level, this purpose of yours is only half your story – I don’t care how much success you may have had.
Now, if you want the full picture; If you want to live in the fullness of your purpose. If you want to stop edging God out and you want to make Him the center of your life. If you want a solid foundation that will remain no matter what happens in your business and life, I urge you to change your mind and trust Him to become the Lord of your life. Seek Him and ask Him to reveal the vision HE has for your life. What you’re currently doing can become even bigger with Him giving you a clear vision of how you can reach your fullest potential for His Kingdom.
That’s the only way you will enter into the fullness of your calling. Because there is, indeed, no calling without a caller. So, if you hear His call today, do not turn a deaf ear.
May you be Blessed in your biz, and even more so as you enter into the fullness of your calling.
I had a christian upbringing. At a very young age, I was taught to be humble and kind. I was taught to follow the fine example of Jesus and his apostles. I was taught not to love money – because this was the root of all evil (the LOVE of money). I read many times in the Holy Writ that we cannot serve two masters, i.e.: God and money; for we would learn to love one and hate the other. I also read that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. All these principles were repeated to me from youth – over, and over again. And so, I came to believe it very strongly. In fact, I believed it so strongly that I did like the Pharisees of old and I twisted its meaning and application in order to make myself appear greater in my own eyes. In order to feel like an ultra-spiritual and virtuous man, I began believing the lie that there is virtue in poverty. Conversely, I also believed for the longest time that riches made men wicked and full of vice. The fact that my dad, who was poor, repeatedly called them names (which I shall not repeat here) didn’t help. Therefore, in my eyes, rich people were pretty much doomed to be vicious, ungodly rats or snakes, while poor people were virtuous and victims of unfortunate circumstance. I equated poverty with humility and grace, and riches with greed and evil.
Well, as you probably know, it will be done to us as we believe. So, because of my firmly held belief that riches equated with ungodliness, I was never rich. For most of my life, I was always left with too much month at the end of my money – if you know what I mean. I basically sabotaged myself through my own dysfunctional B.S. (belief system) about money.
My whole beliefs about money, wealth, virtue, and vice, were completely turned around when, in financial dire straits, I began praying to God for… yes, money. It was difficult for me to resort to what, at the time, seemed like a prayer unbefitting a Christian. However, I was so troubled by my lack of financial ease and my debts, that I chanced it – even if it meant a possible rebuke from God. And that’s when The Father decided to school me in the area of money and wealth. No, I didn’t get sudden checks in the mail or win the lotto. Instead of giving me a fish, God taught me to fish (and it’s still ongoing).
My first lesson happened in a bookstore. I was browsing at my local Indigo bookstore and, I erred into unfamiliar territory: the finance section. There, I saw a book on the shelf that caught my attention. Actually, it was more than that. I felt pulled towards the book and compelled to buy it. This book would serve to completely re-educate me and re-forge my beliefs. Most of the time, we choose our books, this time however, the book chose me. The book was Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
After reading Think and Grow Rich, I began to fully grasp that the admonitions of Scripture that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle is greatly misunderstood. Basically, it all has to do with not only a person’s sense of priorities in life; i.e.: God or Money, but also with what the person grew acquainted with FIRST. For example, if a man grew up in wealth but knows not God, it is very likely that he will not seek God. His wealth will keep him from the greater good because it does satisfy his earthly needs. However, if a man knows God and honors him and his fellow man, even if he becomes wealthy later on, chances are he will retain his morals and faith. I actually know a good number of wealthy men of faith who actually do much good with their money – who are virtuous. Besides, the Scriptures are full of wealthy men who were virtuous and honorable: Abraham, Joseph, Job, David, Solomon, to name just a few. Surely they found a happy place after they died.
So no, riches do not equate vice or immorality, nor does poverty equate with virtue and felicity. As someone who grew up among poor people I can definitely attest that many of them are far from the side of the angels. Some of them actually had many vices and were quite corrupt morally.
While we must remain aware that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness (purpose and significance do that), I can guarantee that it brings more happiness than poverty ever has. You can definitely take that to the bank – pun intended.
A mindset which glorifies lack cannot possibly prosper. A growth mindset aimed towards prospering as your soul prospers will not only prosper a man in virtue, but in financial wealth as well – and guess what: there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It’s all good. A friend of mine once said: if you really wantto help others, it is better done by getting rich first. But before we begin to grow rich, we must first THINK, and grow rich. We must correct our thoughts towards money and wealth before we become wealthy AND virtuous.
In the coming new year, I hope you all will prosper as your soul prospers. I hope you will do away with beliefs that are damaging to your growth and success.
Great Books to read;
Think and Grow Rich: Napoleon Hill
The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness
When the phone rang that morning, I looked at the caller I.D., as I always do – It was my sister, so I picked up. As soon as I answered, she told me: “Better come over here as soon as you can… mom doesn’t have for very long and she would like to see you.”
You see, my poor mother had been battling cancer for the last two years, and sadly, she was losing the battle. At this point I feel I should put you in context. I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada. It’s the middle of winter. My mother lives just outside of Montreal, Quebec, Which is 1145 km, or 12 hours away – in good weather. So the car was definitely not an option because winter driving in Canada is brutal. So I booked a bus ride to get me there. Unfortunately, my wife, Elisabeth, had to stay behind with our three young children. Katelyn, my youngest, was just three months old at the time.
Before I left, I turned to Liz, hugged her, and told her: “I’ll have to open my ears very wide and shut my mouth. My mom is about to pass away and I just know she will have a very important message for me.”
I believed, and still do, that when someone who loves you is about to die, they have clarity of thought and spiritual insight. They can see things in a new light and, to some degree, prophesy on your life. They can instill great wisdom that, if heeded, can transform your life. God uses these moments mightily if we are open to them.
To watch a short video about this story…CLICK HERE
When we went to visit mom at the palliative care center, Carolyn, my sister, left me to be alone with her. I knew this was our time alone – just me and my mother, for one last encore. We both cried in each other’s arms because we both knew this was the last time we would hug. When the surge of emotion was over, mom turned to me and said: “Can I ask you a question?” “Of course” was my reply. She then starred at me, paused, and said: “Where is your faith?”
Where is your faith? Really?
Honestly, that came as a surprise. Why? Well, you see, I always believed in God since I was a young kid. I converted to Christianity and gave my life over to Christ as a nine year old. I have always been a man of faith since, a Christian. My mom knew that… or so I thought. I told her I didn’t understand her question. I reassured her that I still believed very strongly. When I left for the long trip back home though, I was disappointed on so many levels. Not only did I say my final heart-wrenching goodbye to my mother, but I had not gotten anything life-changing from our final chat. Just a question that seemed odd. Where is my faith? I dismissed it as her being on pain killers. I was sad and frustrated. She passed away about three weeks later, on February 18th, 2015. But I replayed her question in my mind every day. It haunted me.
But my life went on…
A few months later, things began changing quite a bit for me – at work especially. I went from working long hours outside as a mail carrier to working inside on a computer. That job, a fairly simple one that required data entry, enabled me to listen to my Mp3 player while working. I thus began listening to self-improvement experts, and audiobooks on success and leadership – tons of them. I became obsessed with the principle taught by Jim Rohn: “Your life will only get better if you get better.” This was a somewhat new lane of learning for me. In spite of my big library and years of reading, I had never been into what I called ‘pop psychology’ or ‘personal development’. For the longest time I was more interested in theological debates, classic sermons, ancient texts, eschatology, science, anthropology, history, even conspiracy theories. I certainly learned much studying those fields, but success always eluded me because, strangely enough, I never intentionally studied it. It all boils down to this: I believed I didn’t deserve success. It will be done to us according to what we believe. It was so for me at the time, and had been for a long time. To put it bluntly: I was always broke.
While this was going on, I had been praying with my wife for our situation to improve; more specifically, our financial situation. We were even so bold as to ask the Good Lord straight out for cash – lots of it! That’s something I never would have done before. I mean, a good Christian doesn’t long for money does he? Let alone pray for it. Praying for money was against my religion, so to speak. After all, “the love of money is the root of all evil”, right? Well, things needed to change – and I knew if I didn’t ask for anything in prayer, nothing would happen. And guess what… that’s when things really began to shift.
God was slowly beginning to answer my prayer for improved finances. Not in the way I initially expected it however. He wasn’t going to send a big lump of cash my way. That just isn’t the way He operates; most of the time anyway. No. Rather, He was going to make me unlearn everything I thought I knew about money and success – one principle at a time. God was not going to give me a fish, He was going to show me how to fish. Reading and applying Think and grow Rich, a book I had purchased recently, was part of that process. Also part of the process were the self-improvement and leadership experts I was listening to at work. Every day, I listened to the sage advice of men such as Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, and a host of other personal growth experts and teachers. I was basically schooling myself on the principles and philosophy of success. I was thirsty and hungry for it. For five or six hours every day I would gobble it all up while typing at my data entry job. I soon began taking notes and building my own curriculum and philosophy based on what I had learned. To say it was a passion would be an understatement. This went on for weeks and months.
One fateful October day, eight months after my mother passed away; I was listening to a motivational podcast in which the speaker said: people, you are living in “If you are not using your unique talents and abilities to help others, you are living in vain.” Shazam!!! I was suddenly struck by lightning! My mother’s words echoed in my mind as I heard this and I finally understood what her words meant! Where is your faith? Where is your faith? It became as clear as day! Tears began streaming down my cheeks as I looked around to see if any co-worker spotted me. God made sure everything was brought back to me through hindsight and memory.
You see, before I even met my wife, I was seriously considering Christian ministry. I was designated to preach on several occasions at my local church and, although I was nervous about speaking in public, I just loved to be able to inspire people to become not only better Christians, but also better people. I wasn’t the most explosive preacher, but I had a knack for using words, quotes, and illustrations that would touch people at a deeper level. I was definitely an inspirational speaker at heart. It happened on a few occasions that people would come to see me after a sermon, with tears in their eyes, thanking me. I had made an impact. That made me feel very alive. It gave meaning to my life. I felt a deep sense of purpose when I got to help people in that way. Nevertheless, in spite of my love of preaching and teaching the Bible, I never became a pastor. I love the Bible and digging for truth, but I didn’t like feeling constrained by a regimented doctrinal statement – of any denomination. In some ways, I am too free-spirited to be any good as a minister. But I digress…
Back in the days when I was called on to preach at my church, over fifteen years ago, my mother had been there on many of those occasions. She had witnessed the impact I had. She had witnessed what happened when I touched people’s hearts with my words. Our mothers know us better than anybody. They know when we are at our best. They know when we are thriving in our calling. Our moms know when we are in our sweet spot – even if we don’t fully realize it. Speaking life into dying hearts was my calling, but I hadn’t done it in over fifteen years, choosing to dig instead into diverse theological doctrines and theories all the while working full-time at a job I hated. While I learned much, I wasn’t helping or blessing anybody. I was secluded in my office like a monk or disgruntled at my job. That’s how I spent my life. So when mom asked me where my faith was, she was asking: When will you go back to changing lives with your words? When will you fulfill your calling? When will you again speak life into dying hearts? … Where is your faith?
Needless to say, this epiphany was a major turning point in my life. Only a few weeks later I enrolled myself with the John Maxwell Team to hone my public speaking and to become a certified speaker, trainer, and coach. I founded my own faith-based coaching and leadership training company. I also began writing again. I say ‘again’, because I was an aspiring writer in my early twenties and wanted to become a published author. At the time, I abandoned my dream because of what Robert Schuller would call: “impossibility thinking”.
Today, I am a public speaker and I address people with that same fire I had when I would preach. And yes, I am also a published author and writer, and proud of it.
The lesson here is this: your destiny will catch up with you no matter how you postpone it. So don’t postpone it! Follow your dreams. Use your gifts to help as many people as you can. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it seem impossible at times? Sure. But when it gets excruciatingly difficult just echo these words in your own soul: Where is your faith?
I saw a meme on Facebook which reminded me how we should live our lives; it said: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
However you choose to live, whether playing it safe or not, chances are you will get to the finish line limping and scarred anyway – that’s pretty much unavoidable. But there are two distinct ways you will get those scars and injuries:
1- By just bracing against what is thrown at you and/or playing it ultra safe. By the way, you will still get your share of pain and scars living like this. You might get less scars and avoid limping, but you will nonetheless suffer pain because such is the lot reserved to all who breathe. Your pain, if you choose to live this way, will be the pain of regret. Your scars will be those of self-preservation and just a sad reminder of your suffering.
2- By taking risks, going at it with all you’ve got – living fully and pushing through your fears. Now, mind you, you could get more scars that way – maybe. However, those scars will be worn as badges of honor. You will have chosen the pain of discipline and risk over the pain of regret. That’s living fully, and dying empty.
You see, no matter how you choose to live, life will hurt you. If you try to avoid this hurt by avoiding the risk of failure and justifying it using excuses, you are still getting hurt. The problem with this is that you’re only hurting your self. This is psychological self-mutilation. The pain of regret is so much heavier to bear than the pain of discipline and courage to pursue your dreams.
We’re all pretty much banged up when we reach the finish line – but it’s so much better to choose your scars than to suffer them haphazardly. Our scars and infirmities are life’s way of decorating our valor. They serve to remind us how much we have survived to get where we are. Those memories can be of bravery through facing adversity head on… or just plain pain.
Our scars and infirmities also serve to humble us. Our scars take away some of our haughtiness when we look in the mirror. Our limping serves to slow us down when we try to go too fast. Always go as a fast as you can, but always make sure you go at a speed you can handle too.
I saw another meme on Facebook which pictured an old lion full of scars in his face; the caption read:
Never be ashamed of your scars, they only serve to remind you that you were stronger than whatever tried to kill you.
May you reach the kingdom limping and scarred, shouting “WOW! What a ride”, and hearing back:
A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.”
– Proverbs 18:16
When I was younger, I understood this verse to mean that if you bring a physical gift, it will open doors for you – you will obtain favor from whoever you gave it to. I thought it was sort of when you bring a bottle of wine and give it to the friend who invited you for supper. I was wrong.
I now understand that this verse has nothing to do with physical gifts. Rather, it speaks of the gift you carry inside. Your unique talent or ability. The thing you do better than most people effortlessly. You know, that thing that when you do it, people commend you and ask for more. That thing that you do which comes easy to you, and yet, blesses others… that’s your gift.
Everybody has a gift. It was given to you by God. Unfortunately, not everybody develops their gift. Your gift was made to be given away.
This famous painter said:
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso
Let’s face it: The world doesn’t have much room for us. It’s a jungle out there. It’s a dog eat dog world. We try to make room for ourselves by playing the elbows and pushing our way through and against the maddening crowd. But that’s the wrong approach. The right approach consists of you discovering your unique gift or ability, or talent, and serving it graciously to people. This is what will make room for you.
I’ll give you an example:
The movie One Chance (2013) is the true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night who became a phenomenon after being chosen for — and ultimately winning — Britain’s Got Talent (2007). His story was one of perseverance in serving his gift to the world in spite of many obstacles and challenges. But in the end, not only does he win the Britain’s Got Talent competition; but he ends up being invited to sing in front of the Queen of England… His gift made room for him and brought him before great men (In this case, a great woman)
Another great example is the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. Most of you remember the story… he was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. While in jail, he met Pharaoh’s chief butler. The butler had a dream and Joseph interpreted it correctly and told him he would be reinstated in Pharaoh’s service – and he was. But the butler forgot about Joseph until, one day, the Pharaoh had a dream that nobody was able to interpret… That is when the butler remembered Joseph. So Joseph was brought before Pharaoh. And the rest, as they say, is history. Joseph went on to become prime minister in Egypt – second only to Pharaoh. It was his gift that brought him before a great man. His gift made room for him, and brought him before Pharaoh.
To most of us, it’s hard to associate ‘Jesus’ and ‘Tough’ in the same sentence. Of course he was a Carpenter (physical labor anyone?) who chased the vendors from the Temple with the aid of a whip (yes, really), but in spite of this, we still perceive him as a mild-mannered, kinda hippie-looking, kind-to-children, soft-spoken teacher who is best known for turning the other cheek and teaching us to love one another.
Nevertheless, there are these passages of the New Testament that really give us a different picture of the man some call God and Savior.
So here are the (arguably) top 6 toughest sayings of Jesus:
1- Buy a Sword. What? Did Jesus really say this? To the delight of most conservatives… Absolutely! While you’ll rarely hear this part of this New Testament dialogue on a Sunday morning at Church, Jesus did indeed tell his disciples to do just that.
“He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’” Luke 22:36 (New International Version) (NIV)
These are pretty tough words from a man perceived to be to world’s foremost bringer of peace.
2- I have not come to bring peace. Huh? Say what? Hey, I didn’t write the Book. And yet, it’s in there… in Matthew 10:34-36 to be precise:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (NIV)
Well, all I can say is this won’t make tense family gatherings for the Holidays any easier.
3- Bring them here and kill them in front of me. In a parable where Jesus unmistakably speaks of himself, we get a glimpse of a, shall we say, far more uncompromising Jesus than the one we have been taught in Sunday school. In Luke 19:27, the conclusion of this particular parable ends this way : “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.”
Zeus? Thor? Yahweh? Not quite… Jesus.
4- Not right to give to the dogs. While most of us like treating our dogs like a member of the family, Jesus, in this passage of Scripture, seems pretty rude to the Canaanite woman. Or is that Canine woman? You be the judge…
“The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’” (Matthew 15: 25-26) (NIV)
Did he just call this woman a dog? Well, um, yup. But undone by that comment, she persisted and still got table scraps (i.e.: her daughter was healed).
5- Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees. The Scribes and Pharisees, who were the religious establishment of the day, had it in for Jesus. In one particular passage, Jesus decides to strike back at them and doesn’t hold any punches!
The passage is found in Matthew 23:1-39, and is too long to print here, but one notable excerpt (v. 33) reads like this: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
Ouch! That must’a hurt! Actually, it hurt so much they plotted to kill him afterwards.
6- I never knew you. One belief that is very common about Jesus is that ‘He loves everybody.’ Well, there are definitely some major nuances to that belief when we see it tested against the New Testament. In Matthew 7:21-23 we read:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Okay, so Heaven doesn’t have an Open Door Policy after all.
Well, there you have it. The 6 toughest sayings of Jesus. As you can see, He wasn’t very politically correct. In fact, He was a lot more badass than we give Him credit for. Who knew?
Has God asked you to do something that you are not sure about?
As believers, and as entrepreneurs, we are often guided by the Lord to do things that we are not sure about… or even things that we are terrified about.
Christians are told in the Scriptures to trust in God for all their needs. We are told that whoever God calls to do something, He will equip as well.
But we often over spiritualize this concept. We often think that God will give us peace amidst famine. We over-spiritualize our Father by undermining His actual care for our physical needs. Make no mistake about it: God will take care of our physical needs just as well as our spiritual ones. There is one Bible story in which Jesus did just that.
In Luke Chapter 5: 1-11, we read the following story…
“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”
In this story, we see the following lessons about God’s provision:
If we obey, He will bless us. We are told that Jesus borrowed Simon’s boat to teach the multitude. Simon (Peter) provided Jesus with a platform to bless others. So, when Jesus was done teaching, he told Peter to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
God knows our needs before we ask him. In the sermon on the mount, we are told “your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Jesus knew he was going to ask Peter to forsake all and follow Him. But Peter had a wife and children he needed to provide for. He needed to work night and day as a fisherman to provide for his family. And depending on the catch, if was not steady income. Jesus was well aware of it. BOOM! The miracle catch was so huge that it made the two ships sink! We can only speculate about how much income it provide Peter with; but one thing’s for sure… it was enough for him to take a leave of absence from work. It was enough for him to “forsake all and follow him.” It gave Peter much needed peace of mind.
Sometimes, in order to follow Him, God will ask us to face our fears – to get out of our comfort zones, as a test of our faith. Other times, God, in His mercy, will appease our fears, just like in this story. He provided so well for Peter and the others, that they were able and willing to leave all and follow him.
God is a God who provides. After Abraham went to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, God provided a Ram instead for the sacrifice. That’s when Abraham named God (Jehovah Jireh): the God who provides. And in Ephesians 3:20-21we read: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations.”
As an entrepreneur, God may have asked something of you. Perhaps it is something that you are scared to do. Perhaps it is something that you have tried before and it didn’t work. Remember in the story, Peter had fished all night; he had cleaned his nets; he was exhausted – he was done. It was over. He didn’t want to go back out. And yet, upon Jesus’ calling him to go out, he did – and a net-breaking blessing followed.
If you are a Christian entrepreneur, and God has issued a call to you either for the next level in your biz, just to get started, for a change of direction, or perhaps even to make Him a bigger part of your company’s mission statement – do not be afraid to follow Him in uncharted waters.
Someone once said: “Calling is not without its crosses and trials, but let us not doubt of its compensations.”
If you do and go all out, if you dare to heed the call, to the deeper waters… God will break your net!
When God blesses you, trust me, you are going to need a bigger boat! Your net will rip! That’s how He does things; in a good and perfect way, with grace and abundance.
But before it does, you have to go out… and cast your net. You have to heed His call, go out, and cast your net even:
If you’re scared
If you’re not sure it’s going to work out
If you’re inexperienced
If you don’t have all the money you think you need
If you are told not to by friends and family
If logic tells you this is a bad idea
If in the past, the same thing didn’t work out for you
One thing that will help you become bolder and venture out to cast your net is remembering God’s former miracles and provisions in your life. God expects us to not forget the times when He acted on our behalf. And remembering these miracles will make you have more faith when things appear unsure. Look at this rebuke from Jesus to his apostles when they had forgotten his two miracle of the bread and fish and thought his teaching about the leaven of the Pharisees was about their next lunch:
“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?” (Matthew 16:8-11)
To paraphrase Jesus, it’s as if He was telling them: “Guys, where were you when I multiplied the bread and fish? Don’t you get it? If you walk with me, you will not lack those necessities.”
Still fearful? Fear not. This admonition, ‘Fear Not’ is found many times in the Scriptures. A lady (Melinda Martin) set out to find out if it were true that it was repeated 365 times in the Bible; turns out it’s not. But, during this exercise, she actually put up a great list of Bible verses that tell us to be brave – to ‘Fear Not’. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/fearnotbible
If God has called you out to venture out and cast your net – He will provide for you. You can take this to the bank – literally. And, as you do so, meditate daily on these few choice verses. Read them out loud to impress on your conscious and subconscious mind that if God has asked you to do something, he will provide for your needs and bless you in the process. This will also keep you positive and on track on a daily basis.
Here’s a video on this topic:
Sebastien Richard is a husband, father, author, copywriter, speaker and leadership trainer. He is also the founder (along with his wife, Elisabeth) of Thriving on Purpose, a faith-based coaching and leadership training company. His most recent book, Lead Like a Superhero – What Pop Culture Icons Can Teach Us About Impactful Leadership, is an unconventional approach to leadership, perfectly tailored for a new generation of leaders. It offers all of the proven, time-tested leadership principles, values, and tactics, with a never-before seen Pop-Culture Packaging. It’s definitely NOT your father’s leadership book!