The Hammer or the Nail

Posted by John Lindsay on 29th June 2012 in Christian Articles, News, Op Ed

Most people wake up in the morning and have a cup of coffee. If they do not make it themselves they go out and get one, but who takes the time to enjoy it? Who employs even the least amount of expectation by saying to the cashier, “I’ll enjoy a cup of coffee please.” We will make it. We will get it. We will take it, all of which confirms our priority is set on attainment and not enjoyment.

If we do not get our first cup of coffee just the way we like it, it can trigger a chain reaction of unfortunate events which could turn our day, week or life into a turbulent sea. There is nothing wrong with reacting to a situation, however, when we mix being short-fused with stubbornness and pour it into the cup of a stagnant caffeinated routine, what we end up with is a volatile cocktail.

Warning Signs

Why do we wait for the warning lights to illuminate before addressing the issues which will most likely leave us stranded on the side of the road? What would happen if the air travel industry aborted their preflight inspections, and, instead, simply waited for the warning lights to signal trouble? There might be a period of time free from incident. The new system would make it easier for flights to stay on schedule. The company would save a great deal of money in the short-term. What is inevitable, however, is the ever-increasing degradation of the fleet resulting in accidents, lawsuits, the death of the business, and the loss of jobs directly and indirectly associated with it.

We all know proactive maintenance exponentially reduces risk, but, in spite of good common sense, most of us still wait for the warning signs. Even if the caution light has been engaged, we often drive on ignoring even the rattles and squeaks and grinds. By doing this, we forfeit the peace of mind which accompanies proper prioritization.

Poor Stewardship Opens the Door for Distractions

The accidents and lawsuits which resulted from the airline not maintaining the fleet were distractions based on poor stewardship. Distractions make it difficult to get back to a healthy routine. What we do; where we end up; what we accomplish, if anything, is based in part on maintaining character through the practicing of good habits.

Character is not achieved by showing up or trying really hard any more than a marathon is won. Endurance and character are built through practice and training. Every noteworthy athlete knows the importance of following the advice of a good trainer. As easy as it sounds, it is not natural to follow someone else’s instruction. Consider the fact even pressing the snooze button on our alarm suggests we are not willing to obey even our own suggestions.

The fact is we need to be willing to allow something to instill wisdom in us before we can hope to choose the right person of influence to follow. People tend to enter into relationships with people who make them look and feel good, important or safe. Rarely do they choose someone to help them be good, important and safe. In regard to with whom we spend our time, we often choose unwisely.

Money Minded vs. Reputation Minded

Would you trust a penniless financial advisor or an overweight smoker to be your personal trainer? It is ultimately the reputation earned over a long period of time which holds true value. Consistently, the money-minded rely on the examples of other people with money, fame or power in spite of the fact few wealthy, famous or powerful people have good reputations.

If money and power were built on a foundation of good character, political parties would have a much easier task presenting a winning candidate to its constituents. We have been conditioned to believe fame and money establish a reputation, but it is the time-tested reliability which forges a reputation strong enough to preserve and maintain wealth, notoriety and influence.

The Bible tells us it is acceptable to prosper in heaven as well as on earth. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all he had, give it to the poor, pick up his cross and to follow him. Unfortunately the young man remembered to keep the commandments but forgot why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. You do not necessarily have to sacrifice everything. You do, however, have to be willing to show God your priorities are in order.

A church got behind a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for a youth event. Donations were collected. Servers served. Cooks cooked. Greeters greeted, and the cleaners cleaned. The dinner ran like clockwork. The only problem was the adults were doing all the work. There was an ideal opportunity to train and test the youth, but, because the objective was on raising money and not on building character, the kids got the money but lost the long-term blessing of appreciation and accomplishment through the opportunity to serve as a vital part of the church.

In or Out of Control

Without an ultimate purpose, it is easy to get distracted. Without a reason to look a distance ahead, the eyes gravitate to the nearest person with the greenest grass. Since we are influenced by whatever we choose to focus on, if our eyes are on our neighbor’s stuff, we will not be influencing the situation; the situation will be influencing us.

Most people float wherever the current leads. Too distracted to determine direction, they lose their discipline and stamina and are unable to resist the current. With no tools to manage their endeavors they find themselves in situations seemingly out of their control. One thing leads to another while their destination fluctuates based on the prevailing wind.

The Nature of Purpose

If the physical is a limited finite structure and the spiritual is limitless, infinite and without form, our main focus should be on the spiritual based on its greater potential. We can all agree our bodies cannot travel through time, but our reputations can both precede us as well as live on long after our bodies decay. Furthermore, the shelf-life of an accomplishment may be brief, but its influence, which is spiritual, may be timeless.

People who choose to make the sole purpose of their lives the accumulation of wealth will inevitably find themselves on their last day holding nothing. The justification for the pursuit of wealth stems from believing retirement equates to freedom and freedom to fun. Unfortunately, nowhere in Cyndi Lauper’s hit song, “Girls Just Want to have Fun,” does it address the disappointment of having lived a life empty and often detrimental to others or how the fruit of such a life so quickly decomposes.

Direct Goals with a Purpose

Everything we do should line up with a mission statement which answers the question why we do what we do. The purpose my life is best suited for (at this time) is to bring people to a saving knowledge of God through Jesus (i.e. to expose lies and reveal truth). I do this through converting divine revelation into stories, articles and songs. I enjoy doing a lot of things. Golf is a favorite hobby of mine, but until I get revelation on how to use it to serve others by revealing truth, I will continue to be grateful to play at my current level. Pursuing a professional career in golf or any other venture must be restricted as it would likely hinder me from my primary objective.

We take a valuable tool out of God’s hands when our goal is retirement. Work is the conduit through which God distributes insight. There should be no argument we should be working, but the focus should not be about the work, but rather what God can do in us spiritually through the physical work we do. Spiritually speaking, freedom, peace and joy are not sustainable without Godly boundaries and dictates, one of which being – to work. Therefore, it is not wise one should ever retire from the good work necessary in maintaining those spiritual blessings.

Revelation Released

Those who pray with a high level of expectation, while reading and agreeing with the Bible, will be far more prepared to endure trials than those who do not. New revelation is routinely awarded to those who successfully complete an assignment and faithfully put fresh insight to good use. Therefore, we should always expect to have more spiritual insight when we exit a trial than we had when we entered into it. We should also expect to receive a new trial soon after the old one is competed in order to imbed the fresh revelation into our growing belief system.

Once the trial is successfully accomplished, the disciple holds 100% of the blessing. Accumulating seeds of revelation is enjoyable and personally rewarding, but, unless the fruit of our labor is humbly made available to others in accordance with a spiritual purpose (e.g. encouragement), the blessing, however great, will die with the laborer. Therefore, a second goal is necessary; a vehicle of distribution: a relationship.

Relationship Relevance

A person of influence is worthless without a circle to influence. I personally do not buy into the Field of Dreams notion of, “If you build it, they will come.” Someone might come, but, in order for them to stay, a sacrificial investment must be made. That is to say, the seed of any relationship must be properly maintained by both parties.

When two purpose-driven individuals meet, their relationship should NOT be based on what one person can do for the other but what they can do with each other. Two individuals working together will always bear more fruit than they would individually.

Expanding my circle of influence and partnering with other purpose-driven people is a spiritual goal achieved through physical means. The power of the means is impacted based on the validity of the purpose. In other words, the spiritual and the physical are not only designed to function jointly – they feed off of one another either positively or negatively relative to our attitude.

Control or Be Controlled

What we choose to commit to strengthens us. What we sacrifice focuses us. What we love defines us. What we do, how we do it, and the attitude we use to frame it, determines the revelation and wisdom we will use in life as the means to achieving the purpose God has placed in our hearts.

We cannot serve two masters. We will either hate one and serve the other or vice versa. We will either desire a physical goal or a spiritual purpose. We will either influence or be influenced; gather or scatter; be in control or be controlled. We will either be the hammer or the nail. For those who accept their spiritual purpose, the level of accountability for a person of influence is high. The work is hard. The blessings are great. The life is full. And even though the coffee will not taste any better, it will be infinitely more enjoyable.

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