Time For Action, Just Start

Have you ever had a deadline sneak up on you? Ever put something off only to find that time keeps passing by? All the sudden weeks have passed with little progress? Fortunately, there is a simple principle that can help you avoid these situations.

Somewhere along the way in trying to be more productive, I learned about the power of starting. Just starting. It seems so simple, but I have found that whether I’m working on a presentation, organizing a messy room, or launching a project – the same principle applies. Just start and progress will take over.

Very often when we have something important we need to do, a subconscious resistance can keep us from even beginning. For some reason there seems to be a barrier. We may not even be aware of it. We just keep thinking that we will work on it later.

There are many reasons we can delay starting on something. Some can be valid, but more often it is just resistance in our mind. It could be that the task seems overwhelming or that we don’t know where to begin. It could be because we can’t see what direction to go or that we are waiting for a big chunk of time to suddenly appear.

Whatever the reason is, we can quickly overcome the resistance with this simple principle.

Just starting will get the ball rolling. After the ball is in motion, it is much easier to keep it moving. We don’t have to know exactly how we are going to finish – we just need to get started. You can’t redirect a ship that is still sitting at the dock. You have to get the ship out to sea and in motion.

God will always come through to direct us, but we need to take action. We can’t keep sitting at the dock. We need to get out to sea so God can help us navigate. We can trust Him to course correct if needed.

When we have already started on something and return to work on it again, the subconscious resistance is removed. Just get started and the direction will unfold as you move forward. But we have to start. Very often when I finally convince myself to start, I am able to advance what I’m working on to more than half done. When I return to work on it, I feel less resistance because I already have something to work with.

God can do amazing things through us when we take action and stay close to Him. He can put pieces together, get the right people in place, remove challenging roadblocks, and guide us more than we could ever ask. We don’t have to understand everything; we just need to trust that He will drive as we take the ship out to sea.

So what have you been putting off? What has been nagging you? Whatever it is, just start and trust God to direct you. Ask Him to help you and watch what He can do.

Take Ownership or Fool Yourself

Have you ever had a project or a goal that just didn’t seem to move forward? It could be because you haven’t given it attention, or it seems too difficult. Whether at work or in our personal life, we all have these moments.

The first time I felt this way was on my first engineering internship. During my mid-summer review, my manager at the time told me that I needed to take ownership of my biggest project. At first, I was insulted by the feedback. How could he say I wasn’t owning the project?

The more I thought about it, the more I could see that he was right. Unconsciously, it didn’t matter to me whether the project succeeded or failed. I felt it was too complicated for an intern and I couldn’t see an obvious solution – so I just took a casual approach to it. After he told me that I needed to take ownership, I could see that it was exactly what I had avoided.

If I didn’t “own” the project and it failed, my mind could believe that failure was outside of my control. What a sneaky trick. The truth was that if I didn’t OWN it, the project would never have a chance to be successful. When I got more serious about ownership, creativity and passion flowed around the project and I was able to find a solution in time.

I have applied this principle of ownership again and again. We can never be reminded too often about taking ownership. Former Navy Seal Commander, Jocko Willink, is a popular speaker on the topic of ownership. In his book, Extreme Ownership, he says, “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”

Whether you lead people, projects or initiatives, you are a leader. If we don’t own what we need to, we will always have excuses that stand in the way of our creativity and success. We must take true responsibility for results if we want to see them. We can’t let excuses take the lead.

In the Bible, God prepared Queen Esther for a time when she would need to take a risk to accomplish what she needed to. She was uniquely positioned and God had prepared everything, but it was up to her to own what she had to do. Esther took the risk. She took ownership and God saved her nation.

God has a path planned for each of us. He has designed it. He is always guiding, shaping us, and preparing us. Remember, we must be faithful even in the little things if we want God to use us for the big things. Sometimes we understand every detail and other times it seems like we know nothing. We need to learn how to trust what God wants to do through what He brings to us.

So, what do you need to take ownership of? Results? A relationship? A tough project? A broken process? Whatever it is, make certain that you are not fooled into making the same mistake I did years ago. Take ownership.

Colossians 3:23 tells us to do everything with our whole heart and to do it for God and not for man. Big or small, what will you take ownership of today?

Focus On Process, Not Outcome

Most people have something about themselves they wish was different. We want to be more patient, more kind, more loving, less temperamental, less procrastinating, more productive, better time managers, and a long list of other ideals.

It is good to desire these changes, but it can be frustrating when we just can’t seem to reach our desired result. We often just try harder or look for a new technique to achieve these changes. But is that approach to change the right one?

I recently listened to a podcast that God used to reshape how I think about process. In the podcast, Graham Cooke said that “God loves to be with us in all the small actions of building us up. It’s the process that makes us rich, not the outcome.” I hadn’t realized how much I just thought about waiting for the outcome, rather than the process to get there.

This concept made me take a step back and see how much we need to value the process God desires to use. All the little things that come up can be used by God to shape who we are. They can be used to make us more like Him and into what He wants us to be.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the fruit of the Spirit. They are the FRUIT of the Spirit. Not the ROOT of the Spirit. They are the result, not the origin. What we need to do is focus on our relationship with God and trust Him to make the changes. These changes are made from the inside out, not the outside in.

If we really want our lives to produce fruit for God, the key is to carve out the time with Him. It’s part of the process. Whether you read, worship, reflect, journal, or whatever else you want to do, God will use whatever is in front of you to take you deeper with Him. Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re trying to accomplish – God will use it. We need to stop thinking only about the result and we need to let God use the process He designed uniquely for each of us.

God doesn’t just want us to get everything done asap. Rather than thinking about how we are so far behind on what we planned to do, we should focus on our need to spend time with God. If you’re behind on that Bible reading plan, just start again and let God meet you where you are. While we need to become familiar with God’s Word, often times, we can get more out of reflecting on just one verse than we can from speed-reading through five chapters.

To be clear, I’m not saying that we have the freedom to be lazy. The key is to have a deeper experience with God, not just consume information. Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit. He doesn’t expect fruit to just show up suddenly because we really want it to. Fruit comes through a process of spending time with God and letting Him shape us.

For a garden to flourish, it must be given regular attention. It needs to have water added and weeds removed. It’s the same with us in our walk with God. Focus on the process and enjoy the process. Let God use these things to facilitate growth with Him. Don’t just wait around for the outcome.

What process might God be using in your life today that He wants you to enjoy? Try taking a step back and realize that life is inside the process, not only in the future outcome.