I can remember a time when I did not worry for thirteen years straight. Thirteen years! What about you? Can you remember a time where you didn’t worry for over a decade?
It wasn’t even that hard. It was like breathing. Automatic. Unconscious. Living.
I don’t remember worrying as a kid.
Worry is always attached to an outcome, usually a particular outcome in the future. Peace is always attached to a relationship. For the first thirteen years of my life, I was attached to my parents in loving trust. I simply never thought about anything else but mining each day for the motherlode of fun it seemed to have buried in its daylight hours.
Then I become a teenager.
As a teenager, I recognized that life is worked at, not received. So, I got to work.
I set goals for myself – S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. In the business world, this is a popular goal-setting mantra.
I knew I had to “do something with my life” as an adult so I looked for the perfect job that would provide me fulfillment. I looked to secure my future financially. I embraced the empowering notion that it all depended on me. I recognized how important my efforts were to securing my life and that I could not depend on my parents any longer to take care of me. I had “smart” goals in all of these areas and more from my teen years into adulthood.
It was time to grow up.
I went from being important to my parents to being important in general. Everything was important. It was important to find a job, important to get married, important to earn money, important to set goals in all of these important areas. Important, important, important.
Later, in my twenties, it became important to me to become a Christian. And then, lots of other things became important, too: important to serve, important to love others, important to “be there” for others, important to worship, important to pray, important to read my bible, and on it goes.
Photo Credit: Nasa.
When I started my business I had more goals than I could count. Goals are utterly necessary and important in business. Goals are part of the corporate air we all breathe.
Important. Ah, I love that word. I wanted to be important. Goals are important because I am important if I reach them.
A funny thing happened on the way to the important forum…I actually became important to others. Finally, in my forties, my goal-setting had led me to many mentoring relationships in business and in ministry.
I had finally grown up.
I think I finally became important to others because I’m now closer to 50-years-old than 20-years-old – at least chronologically – and I have much more life experience than I once did.
For instance, I can tell any bright-eyed 19-year-old not to grow their hair long, and try to start a rock band, and set aside your full ride academic scholarships in the process — especially if you can’t even read music. (The typical response I get to this particularly sage piece of wisdom is: You had long hair? No way!)
I don’t worry when I live life as a kid.
Recently while leading a men’s retreat, God started going all Dr. Sean Maguire on me. Maguire is the doctor played by Robin Williams in the movie Good Will Hunting. The scene God decided to act out with me was the one in which the doctor kept repeating to Matt Damon’s character, “It’s not your fault.” Over and over again, “It’s not your fault.” Maguire finally broke through to the real and hurting places in his counselee’s heart with love, tenderness and healing.
For two hours I spoke with God about all of the areas in my life in which it was important for me to show up. For two hours all I heard was, “Don’t you know how important you are to Me?” (Matthew 6:26)
He made it clear to me that if I truly understood how important I was to Him, He would (of course!) tell me where it was important for me to show up for His purposes.
God was serious about me living life as a child, returning to what I experienced in my childhood: loving trust.
What kinds of goals do kids set?
I don’t believe that living in the peace that comes from a trusting relationship with our Father in heaven means that we abandon all goal setting. Not at all. I had some pretty specific goals as a kid that required careful planning and actions steps.
I think all this raises some important questions that may illuminate our goals:
- If the ultimate outcome is settled (Mark 1:15), what goals come to mind?
- What role does surrender play as we strive for those goals that come to mind?
If our work extends past this life, and we are assured it does, how does that impact goal-setting in our businesses? Personal lives? Ministries?
When just a kid, where did goal setting intersect with play and trust? How did you structure your day?
If the biggies are taken care of just like when you were a child (food, money, home, feeling loved, not worrying about “making a difference,” not thinking about death, etc.), would play, worship and freedom to work come into sharper focus?
The world tells us that outcomes are a mystery and the only sure thing is our effortful steps to our goals.
I think God flips that and says, “I’ve taken care of the ultimate outcome, so do you care to play, worship, work, endure hardship with Me and enjoy the mysteries and glory in each day?”
We live in the Kingdom of God where we are joint-heirs of it all. The outcome is already decided. In this Kingdom, we encounter wondrous, mysterious life as a present reality, not some future, unknown outcome. It is in this present reality that we learn we are more important to Him and His purposes. Surely, there are goals we can set to participate in that kind of living.