A bag of beans. Air in a tire. Ammo in a box. Paint in a can.
The ingredients in these containers do not develop into anything. Someone, or something, in a factory puts beans in a bag, and later, you get beans out of the bag. You put air in the tire and slowly over time, air leaks out. Ammunition in a box doesn’t do anything on its own, despite what some people think. Paint in a can….well, you get the idea.
In Matthew 25: 14-30, we’re offered The Parable of the Bags of Gold. To summarize, a man is planning to take a long journey. He gives three of his servants some bags of gold, to each a different amount. Five, two, and one bag to be exact. I’ll skip to the third servant who takes his one bag of gold, digs a hole in the ground, and buries it out of fear of his master. What a safe thing to do. Simple. Comfortable. Dig a hole, stuff the bag in it, and it’s safe until his master returns. Sound familiar?
The other two servants took their bags of gold and did something with them. We do not know exactly what, but that’s not the point. The point is they were afforded opportunity to make something more out of what they had been given. They knew their master was probably going to expect something more once he returned.
Back to the beans, air, ammo, and paint.
These things do not develop into anything on their own. With intentionality though, they are used to make something or do something great. With planning and action, they have a future. A bag of beans in the hands of a chef becomes baked beans (with bacon, of course). Air in a tire helps get you to your destination. Ammo when in a firearm and the hands of a skilled hunter, becomes a healthy and delicious entree. Paint in the hands of an artist becomes a masterpiece.
In everything we do, we must be intentional. We must take action and use the gifts and the tools God has given us to live a fulfilling life.
At True North Man, we talk a lot about purpose; defined as “the reason for which something is done”. This implies and requires action.
Someday God will ask us what we’ve done with the life He gave us…. what will your answer be?
- Paul Beam
It is 2021 and we are already four months into the new year. As much as I would like to say things are looking up, at times I still feel stuck in neutral. I feel locked down and under immense pressure, not from work or family, as those do present their own levels of pressure…no…it is from the desire to connect or reconnect.
You see, we are social creatures by design and we need interaction for a number of things to help guide us through our day and our life. When I heard the term “social distancing”, it sounded more like a 1980s punk rock band versus a means to keep people safe. Yet, here we are having to put on our masks and distance as far as we can to persevere. When I think about what we have all endured up to this point, it brings to mind James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I love his positive outlook in this scripture and it is so true, but how was I supposed to know that in 2020, I was going to go through what seemed like a lifetime of perseverance in one year? I’ll be honest, 2020 was a struggle, but it was not as bad as it could have been or at least was for others. I am extremely grateful for God’s grace and protection and thank him for all the good things he brought forth and helped me realize during this trying time. After all, it is God who takes tragedy and turns it into good.
So like I do most times, I asked God what is causing me to be stuck, feel deflated, and at times depressed? I prayed, meditated a little, and sat back and listened this time. Usually, it takes me a while to listen and focus, but for some reason, the answer was there, right in front of me like a lightning flash in the sky. Connections and social engagement! God knows what we need and he knows how important it is for us to connect with our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or in my case, a stranger at the grocery store. The lesson or takeaway here is we need people and we need to be around people, new people…people we can connect with, share stories with, or just enjoy each other’s company or a cup of coffee.
Here is the hard part, people are not going to come to you…you are going to have to work to engage, reach out, establish, and re-establish those connections. Perhaps through a Zoom call or FaceTime, but talking to someone face-to-face adds a new level of enlightenment, joy, and satisfaction.
If there is one lesson I have learned from this strange and odd pandemic-ridden time, it’s the value of connections and the need to be intentional in reaching out. It does not matter if you are an extrovert or introvert, we all need to engage, share stories, and talk about our day.
So make it a point every day to connect with someone new. Send them a text, give someone a call, or on your next walk stop and say hi and chat with your neighbor. I think you will find, as much as I have, that the emotional and psychological impact of re-connecting has improved my mental well-being and has shifted me back into drive.
- James Oliver -
"I have the right to do anything" you say, but not everything is beneficial.
"I have the right to do anything" you say, but I will not be mastered by anything.
A new year is upon us. We just completed the first quarter of 2021. Many have set resolutions. Others have set goals. All the same in intent, I suppose.
The difference, for the most part, is that setting goals should be a continuous endeavor over the year. Along with goals should be a detailed plan of execution and along with a detailed plan of execution should be action. Once a goal is accomplished, another should have already been in the pipeline ready to go; to keep propelling us forward.
The passage above is a great passage to consider as you set goals. Not just for the year, but in general.
There are many things we do day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year that aren’t necessarily bad; they just simply don’t make us better. And anything that doesn’t make us or those around us, better, must be disposed of.
A great way to make sure you're on the right track is to simply use this four-step process:
Past. What have you done or been doing? Systems, habits, goals, lifestyle.
Present. What are you currently doing? Systems, habits, goals, lifestyle.
Future. What is your VISION for the future? What do you need to do moving forward? What do you want? Where do you want to be? How are you going to get there? What are your priorities? What habits are getting in the way of you living a full life? What kind of thoughts/mindsets are getting in your way? What system, routine or lifestyle do you currently have that isn’t working to make you and those around you better and move you closer to accomplishing your goals? What are your current goals? Are they moving you forward and making you a better man?
PRIORITIZE & PLAN
What are important parts of your life?
What are five key areas of life that are most important to you?
What do you value most?
While complete balance is not necessarily attainable, what areas of your life are most out of balance?
Maybe your marriage is great but your health is out of control?
Maybe business/work is the best it’s ever been, but your home life is in shambles?
Take the areas of your life that are most important to you. Organize them in order of greatest to least.
Assess which areas need the most attention. Set goals in each area. If your most important area is an area that is thriving, maybe you need to be more aggressive in another important area...never neglecting the area that is thriving of course.
The keyword is BALANCE. Again- I understand complete balance is for the most part not attainable. but striving for balance is crucial.
A word I like to use is rhythm. Find the right rhythm and the dance of life becomes much smoother and more enjoyable for you and those you are leading in the dance.
This is the simple part. I said simple, simple in concept, but not easy to execute. Either way, it’s necessary.
Now that you have examined your life, prioritized the most important (key) areas of your life, set goals for each key area, and created a plan to execute, it’s time to eliminate any habits, systems, mindsets, excuses, lifestyles, and goals that aren’t serving you well in accomplishing those goals as you strive to become a better man, improve your life, and improve the lives of those around you.
This is where the original quote comes into play.
"I have the right to do anything," you say.
But not everything is beneficial.
"I have the right to do anything"--but I will not be mastered by anything.
- 1 Cor 6:12
What is it that is not beneficial to your life? What is it that you must avoid being mastered by? What is it that’s holding you back from the goals you want to accomplish in the key areas of your life?
It’s true, I can work on things in areas of my life that may not necessarily be bad... but are they optimal?
I can work on bench pressing 400lbs. Yes, it would make me stronger and it’s part of my health, but is it optimal for all of the other things in life I care to accomplish?
Probably not. Eliminate!
Saying yes to something means we say no to something else. We MUST be sure to evaluate our lives and be willing to eliminate the things that are not producing maximal output if we expect to level up as a man, crush our goals, and fulfill our purpose.
EXECUTION / ACTION
You have analyzed your life, your priorities, your habits, systems, lifestyles, etc. You have identified the key areas in your life. You have identified which of those areas need the most attention... again, while not neglecting the other areas. You have set goals. You have determined your path.
You can read all the books you want. You can attend all the classes you want. You can set goals all you want. You can create plans all you want. You can make the absolute best plan for accomplishing your goals.
Here’s the thing- to accomplish those goals and get maximal output, the one thing you must remember is this - it requires ACTION.
Now is the time to put boots to the ground and make it all happen.
It requires effort, perseverance, self-discipline, practice, and intentionality. It’s going to be a battle. The only way to win a battle is to first engage in the battle. And then never quit. Action!
The right action and then... execute!