Image via Wikipedia
Continued from Part Two
Many of us start out well, accomplish numerous positive things in our lives, and then settle into a pattern of general comfort and complacency. We live not to grow, but to maintain the status quo. This is a tragic mistake.
God did not create you to rest on your laurels. Instead, he hardwired you to keep on moving – keep on growing. So beware of settling in for too long. “But wait a minute,” you might be saying. “We all need to rest. All work and no play makes for a dull boy.” Yes, that’s true. We do, indeed, need to take time off from time to time in order to rest, recuperate, and recharge our spiritual batteries. However, these periods of recuperation were never meant to be a career. No, we have to keep on moving.
The fact is I have a potential placed in me by God Himself and it is God’s desire that I find my mission and get moving. You, too, have a mission – a divinely ordained purpose and it is God’s great wish that you take up the challenge of finding that purpose, manifesting your potential and talents, and achieving your dreams. Let’s listen now as popular pastor Joel Osteen, in his fine book Become a Better You, speaks about the importance God places on your dreams:
Scripture teaches that we have a valuable treasure on the inside. You have a gift. You have something to offer that nobody else has. You didn’t just show up on planet earth by accident. You were handpicked by Almighty God. He saw you before you were formed in your mother’s womb and placed you here for a reason. You have an assignment. There’s something that God wants you to accomplish. Somebody needs your touch. Somebody needs what you have.
It is a cardinal truth of the spiritual life, my friend. Somewhere right this minute someone you don’t yet know needs you. Someone needs exactly what you are equipped to offer. Just as God has organized all of creation with a finely-tuned balance that is so incredible that it is beyond comprehension, He has also organized the great dance of spiritual life in such a way that we each have a part that only we can contribute. If we don’t realize our potential and live out our deepest dreams, we rob the world of something of immense value. We rob the world of the optimal version of who we are and when we do that, everyone loses and the Holy Spirit is grieved.
Be careful that you don’t take your talent to your grave. Leave your legacy, your gift here so that others can prosper from the simple fact that you lived and cared enough to live rightly.
It is highly important that you also realize that your dreams and your God-given potential are intimately related. God gave you your dream and He also blessed you with what you need to make that dream a reality right here in this hurting world. This doesn’t mean that manifesting your dream will be a piece of cake. No, most often those things that are truly significant are going to meet with a bit of resistance, from either other people, the world in general, and especially the enemy. Still, God has equipped you and given you authority to overcome and overwhelm all three of these areas of friction.
You potential is like a seed and, until you allow that seed to grow, your dream will remain just that – a dream. God gave you this potential and, with the right environment, that seed potential will grow and develop into something quite magnificent. Dr. Myles Munroe speaks of these issues cogently:
“The entire creation possesses this principle of potential. Everything has the natural instinct to release its ability. The plant and animal kingdoms abound with evidences of this fact. The Creator designed everything with this principle of potential, which can be simplified to the concept of a seed. The biblical document states that God created everything with ‘seed in it according to their kinds’ (Genesis 1:12). In essence, hidden within everything is the potential to fulfill itself and produce much more than we see.”
It is vital that every person understand that we are responsible for developing the potential stored within us. We must deepen our contact with our divine potential, which I call our Sacred Self, and do all that we can to nurture, feed, and actualize our true potential. Further, we must recognize that as we move forward in developing our optimal potential, we can never afford to stop. In essence, when we travel the spiritual journey, we are either moving forward or backward. There is truly no place to stand on the spiritual path.
Our journey of discovering and developing our divine potential must begin with a commitment to excellence – an agreement with our Creator that we will walk in cooperation with the Spirit to become the best version of ourselves.
Necessarily, this commitment will involve personal challenges and, at times, a degree of personal discomfort. Spiritual growth involves change and change always requires stepping out of our comfort zone. Still, the process of realizing and manifesting our divine potential is one of the greatest adventures we will ever undertake.
And where does this journey begin? It begins with the decision to become the optimal version of yourself for the glory of God and the benefit of others. It begins, my friend, with a firm commitment to excellence.
When we make a commitment to excellence, we are basically telling God and ourselves that we are finally getting serious about our spiritual development. When we firmly dedicate ourselves to become who God intended us to be, we get honest with ourselves about where we are, where we are not, and where God wants us to go. We then make a personal commitment to, with God’s help, become all that we were created to be, all that we were intended to be, and, in the final analysis, all that we truly are.
Contrary to popular belief, living a life committed to Christian excellence is far from a tedious, joyless affair. When Christ calls us, he does not call us to a life of drudgery and boredom; he does not lead us into a life characterized by a restrictive morality and a scowling face. Christ’s call and claim on our life is a challenge to our limited ways of being in the world. When the Lord whispers in a person’s ear, saying, “Follow me,” he is issuing an invitation to an exciting journey of exploration and spiritual discovery. Erwin Raphael McManus, noted author and pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, tells us:
“Jesus calls us to a life of unimaginable adventure. It begins the moment we choose to follow Him. It is no less than to pass from existence to life. Though we are not taken out of time and space, we are translated into an entirely different dimension of living. Jesus tells us that He is the portal into this life and the quest that follows. Jesus describes Himself as a door, a gate, a portal. In other words, an escape hatch. He has come to lead us out of the mundane and into the extraordinary. Strangely enough we find it hard to trust Him, while all the time he has been trying to lead us out of the dark dungeons we have created for ourselves and let us run free in the light of day. When we come to Him, he translates us into an entirely new realm of living. His promise is that in Him we will find the life that our hearts have always longed for.”
The process of realizing the potential God placed in us is individual in nature. One person may see his or her potential unfolded in one way while someone else may have a different experience altogether. Still, there are several truths that hold firm for each of us as we journey forward with the Holy Spirit. Let’s discuss three of them: the need for discipline; the need for persistence; and the trap of complacency.
Discipline is not a popular word in post-modern culture. Instead, we are encouraged to “follow our bliss” and “do our own thing.” The world pays lip service to the importance of discipline and self-control in daily living, but the over-arching message is in actuality much different. Often, instead of encouraging individuals to delay gratification, defer rewards, and develop character, our culture tells us, “If it feels good, do it.” No one ever manifested divine potential by adhering to this advice.
Scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of discipline, self-control, and personal morality. Without personal discipline, we squander our energies, waste precious time, and lose direction and focus. If we want to become the persons God intended us to be, we have to be disciplined individuals governed by an internalized biblical value system.
As we move forward in this sacred journey of spiritual development, we will experience periods of accelerated growth as well as times when it seems we are advancing at a snail’s pace. This unpredictable pace of spiritual formation is to be expected. There will be times of elation and excitement a you realize the positive changes God’s Spirit has brought about in you life. At other times, you will experience something quite different as you struggle with a particular habit, sin, or negative personality trait. This can be a critical juncture in your growth process. It is easy to become discouraged when change does not come at the pace we would prefer. However, the important point to remember is: “Don’t quit.”
There is an old saying: “Never rest on your laurels.” Basically, this means that we should never be satisfied with what we have accomplished. Reaching a goal is satisfying, but we shouldn’t allow this to be the final act in the play. We must continually press forward toward new goals that will allow us to manifest the best version of ourselves. Also, it is important to keep in mind that we should never focus our mental energy on what it is we think we cannot do. Rather, we should believe in ourselves and always refuse to let what we cannot do interfere with what we can do. By focusing on doing what we can do, and doing it better, we make progress. Moreover, we facilitate our continuing spiritual development by challenging ourselves to reach higher. Both personal experience and deep study has taught me that the optimal method for moving beyond where we are is by “stretching ourselves.” By this I mean it is highly advantageous for us if we encourage ourselves to move beyond what we are now capable of, even if only to a small degree.
For example, I enjoy playing table tennis. I am far from a great player, but I can achieve some degree of success when I am at the top of my game. (Of course, I played much better when I was younger and my reflexes were quicker.) Early on, I discovered I could not improve my play by competing against players who I could easily defeat. By the same token, I could not get any better by playing against opponents who were my equal. If I wanted to improve, I had to play against competitors who were more skillful than I was. I soon discovered that if I took on players whose skills were slightly above mine, my play gradually but consistently improved.
The same is true in terms of realizing our potential in any endeavor. If we want to improve at something, we have to challenge ourselves; we have to stretch ourselves to get to the next level.
Dr. Myles Munroe, the highly respected pastor and Bible teacher mentioned earlier, begins one of his books on divine potential by observing that the richest place on earth is not the vault of a large bank or even Fort Knox. Instead, Dr. Munroe points out, the world’s greatest wealth is often found in the cemetery. It is here, in the graveyard, where many dreams lie buried – dreams that were never realized, missions that were never accomplished, and potential that was never realized.
As I reflect upon the tragic reality of Dr. Munroe’s observations about the wealth lying beneath the grave stones, I ponder another possible tragedy, equally distressing. I wonder how many people are going about their daily rounds, oblivious to the potential placed inside them by the Creator. How many of us will squander this precious life that we have without realizing and manifesting their God-given potential? How many will have their potential buried with them? I, for one, have made a covenant commitment with God not to allow this to happen to me.
How about you?
© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved