The Power to Choose
Everyday we make so many choices, one after the other after the other. All those choices put together equal our lives. The quality of our lives doesn’t just appear like magic (abracadabra … quality of life … voila!). The magic is in making good choices. But not only that, it’s in realizing that we have the power to shape what our lives become. Will they be full of passion, enthusiasm and joy, in spite of the bad stuff that comes our way? Will we take advantage of opportunities and progress, even if our means and finances are limited?
Look at your life. Your choices make it what it is. That’s a pretty amazing concept, but it’s true. Go ahead, admit it. You have chosen to be who you are and live as you live; you determine how circumstances affect you.
Admit That It’s Your Choice
This can be a difficult strategy to embrace. Yet if you can embrace it, your life can change. You will begin to feel more empowered, less victimized, and as if you have more control of your life. Not a bad set of rewards for a simple admission of the truth.
The admission I’m referring to is your choice of career [ministry], and the accompanying hassles. You must admit that, despite the problems, limitations, obstacles, long hours, difficult co-workers, sacrifices you make, and all the rest, that you are doing what you are doing because you have made the choice to do so.
“Wait a minute,” I’ve been told so many times. “I’m doing what I’m doing not by choice, but because I have to.” I know it can seem that way. Yet if you think through this issue, you’ll begin to see that in reality it really is your choice.
When I suggest you admit that your job or your career is your choice, I’m not saying that your problems are necessarily your fault, or that you should make other choices. What I am suggesting is that ultimately, all things considered, you’ve made the decision to do what you’re doing. You have weighed the options, considered your alternatives, studied the consequences, and after all is said and done, you’ve decided that your best alternative is to do exactly what you are doing.
Chris, who works for a large advertising firm, resented this suggestion. In a bitter tone of voice, he told me, “That’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m not choosing to work 12 hours a day on these stupid campaigns; I’m forced to. If I didn’t work so hard, I’d be blackballed as lazy and go nowhere in this business or in the entire industry.”
The problem is, when you feel trapped and as if you aren’t making your own choices, you feel like a victim.
Despite his objections, Chris had decided that it was worth it to work 12 hours a day. His decision was that, all things considered, he’d rather stay in his current position than go through the hassles, risk, and fear of looking for another job, making less money, losing his prestige, missing out on his chance to advance his career, and so forth. I can’t tell you if his decision was a good one or not, but isn’t it obvious that this was his choice?
From time to time, most of us fall into the trap of believing that our circumstances are entirely beyond our control. Taking responsibility for your choices, however, takes you out of any “poor me” thinking and into an empowering, “I’m in charge of my own life” mindset.
Dad: One thing people don’t seem to understand about God: He really likes to give us our choice, even as we do our own children, as long as it is not something bad for us, or bad for others.
Contrary to popular opinion, God does not usually choose for us!–We have to choose for ourselves, find His will for ourselves, seek Him diligently to know His will, and to know what is best for us and others through our knowledge of His Word and personal experience. This is why He put us here; this is what we’re here to learn, and the major part of our training: how to make the right decisions through our personal contact with Him, our knowledge of His Word and His will, and our love for Him and others. We must do what we know is right, and be willing to live and to die for what we know is the truth!
If we accept that our own choices have brought us to the point we’re at today, then we won’t blame others or our circumstances for difficulties or hardships. We’ll take responsibility for our lives, and quit excusing ourselves.
Memorize this concept: Great achievers create goals; underachievers create excuses.
Rationalizations and excuses are tiny lies people tell others and themselves. Excuses are a tool for reassigning blame for your failures, shortcomings or lackluster performance. Take responsibility for your life, time and work. Don’t lie to yourself, your family or your spiritual core.
¥ Find a wide rubber band.
¥ Write the phrase “Stay strong” on the rubber band.
¥ Wear it on your wrist.
¥ Spend 24 hours focused on the content of your comments and expressions.
¥ Snap the elastic band every time you hear yourself making an excuse.
If we’re living for the right reasons, if we have the right motivation, we’ll have a much better chance of making good choices. Sure, it’s hard. Life is hard-especially for professional disciples. But we choose to endure that hardness, and that makes all the difference.
Peter: Discipleship is like playing sports professionally. Lots of people, for example, play basketball. Some just shoot hoops once in a while, others play with their friends or in pickup games, others are in amateur leagues, and a few-very few-are professionals. What’s the difference? For the vast majority of people who play basketball, it’s just play and exercise, something they do in their spare or free time. For the professional athlete, their sport of choice is what they live for.
Why do the professional athletes do it? Only for the fame and/or the money? I don’t think so. I believe they do it because they love the game. They’re willing to put up with a regimented lifestyle, the rigors of training, and the sacrifice of not being able to do some things that others can do, because they love the game.
Why would anyone choose to be a disciple in the Family? Why put up with all that’s expected of a disciple? Why live the sacrificial lifestyle?-Because we love the Lord. Our love for Him causes us to live the discipleship life, and that’s not easy. We’re not just Christians, we’re professional Christians. Christian service is our profession. It’s our full-time job. It’s what we do. It’s what we live for.
To be continued…