Happy new year friends! I'm back from my sabbatical and looking forward to what 2017 has in store for each of us. Let's kick off the year with a couple of questions:
Have you ever felt positive change or opportunity knocking at your door, but hesitated for fear of the unknown?
Have you considered and reconsidered, how much you might have to change or give up to make things work?
Have you ever been paralysed by the fear that despite your best efforts, things just might not work out?
We've all been there, and those feelings are valid. After all, every smart person counts the cost of a new idea, plan or dream before pursuing it. But only up to a certain extent. When we hesitate for too long, it paralyses us.
At some point even the best advice from other people can’t give you full confidence, then you have to ask yourself a counter-question:
What if it’s all worth it?
What if the change, the challenge and the risk of unknown are worth it? Maybe the effort and sacrifice will actually pay off. While the idea of doing something different might be daunting, it could also be the biggest, most rewarding adventure you could have this year. Especially when when it comes to your faith.
So, over the next 12 months I’m encouraging you to really lean in.
For some reason, leaning into a life of faith sometimes makes us pretty nervous. But actually, it’s just as normal and simple as how I plan to trade in that family pack of sweet and salty popcorn for 1 hour at the gym. Or how we exchange our time and resources in order to create something new - whether it’s a business, an event, research or anything in-between.
That's just how life works, it’s The Great Exchange.
A life worth living is crafted, it doesn’t just happen.
In Romans 12, this exchange is described as a sacrifice:
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:1-2
The word 'sacrifice' isn’t as oppressive or aggressive as you may have been led to believe. It simply means putting a short-term desire on hold in exchange for something long-lasting (and way more valuable).
Sacrifice doesn't put you at a disadvantage, it helps you reassess your priorities. That way, you're able to ‘test’ and ‘approve’ what to do and what to believe in a world that's full of grey areas. This is incredibly empowering, to be able to stand up on your own two feet in a world that expects us to conform to the system without question. A renewed mind will help you tell the difference between what is truly helpful and what is simply white noise.
"Live you life by design, not default." - Udo Okonjo
That is what being ‘holy’ is all about. It isn't really about being or doing good, because doing good is an outcome, not an input. It’s more about taking the road less travelled:
- You switch lanes and begin to make more independent, well-informed decisions;
- You resist blindly following the crowd and;
- You become the true author of your own life, not just an observer
‘Moving forward is as much about learning what to let go of, as it is about what to embrace’ - @hillsongunited
This all starts in the mind, which then shapes your behaviour later on. Renewal and transformation is about ‘deconditioning’ yourself.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” - Matthew 5:8
Ultimately, life is about choices
At first, it sounds romantic go with the flow and do whatever you want, whenever you want. But the truth is if we don't make an active decision to do life differently we risk living a 'less-than' life, the decisions we make in confidence today risk becoming the mistakes of tomorrow.
By contrast, when you lean into the big and lofty idea of God and faith, you have an anchor that provides way more clarity and direction than you could expect. Making a change can be scary, and the fear of the unknown is very real, but missing out on a life well-lived is an even bigger risk.
Following the path of faith, holiness and sacrifice was never about restricting you or keeping you in a cage, but always about giving you the right tools to live to your full potential. Today, you have the choice to be a spectator, sitting on the fence forever, or you can choose to do something different.
It might just be worth it.
Thank you for reading! Really looking forward to the journey that we go on this year and all the personal growth that brings. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
What you can do next:
Don't forget, these blog posts are now fortnightly, and during the 'in between' weeks I send a little bit of motivation and inspiration to my private mailing list. Click here to join The List and stay in the loop.