One of the most significant aspects of God’s provision lies in the fact that he never sends any of us into this world empty handed. In his infinite wisdom and grace, he has placed a great treasure inside each and every one of us – a treasure beyond price. Each person arrives at birth with a divine potential planted in his or her heart. This potential contains the vision God has for that particular person as well as the talents, skills, and creativity to make that potential a manifest reality.
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 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 God-given potential must begin with a commitment to excellence – an agreement with our Creator that we will walk in cooperation with our Sacred Center 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. When we make a commitment to excellence, we are basically telling God and ourselves that we are finally getting serious about our spiritual practice. 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 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 spiritual excellence is far from a tedious, joyless affair. There is great joy and personal delight to be found in becoming a person of integrity and reliability. The more we are able to uncover and manifest the precious gems of what we at LifeBrook call “Sacred Character,” the more satifaction and happiness we experience in daily life.
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. 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. All lasting spiritual traditions repeatedly stress the importance of discipline, self-control, and personal morality. Without personal discipline, we squander our energies, waste precious time, and lose direction and focus.
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.
It has often been said that the richest place on earth is not the vault of a large bank or even Fort Knox. Instead, 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 this accurate observation 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?