daily Broadcast

How To Overcome Personal Stagnation

From the series Breaking Through Life's Biggest Barriers

Newlyweds, a promotion, a new house, a baby - new things, new experiences are great! But eventually the shine wears off and life falls into the same routine. We get bored, tired, and unmotivated. Would you like to know how to keep the joy and the wonder in your work and relationships? In this message, Chip explains how you can break out of personal stagnation.

This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.

overcome loneliness and isolation; overcome inferiority and low self-image album art
Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Message Transcript

Does your life honestly feel more like an adventure, or does your life feel more like a rut?  See, life is dynamic.  Life is dynamic, it is not static.  You are either growing or dying.  It’s true physically, it’s true intellectually, it’s true relationally, it’s true spiritually.  All living things are either growing and increasing toward maturity, or they are deteriorating toward decay and death.  There is no middle ground.  The myth in life is that we think there is.  When we think the status quo is where we are, we’re just sliding backwards without knowing it.

See, growth is exciting.  Do you remember when your kids, those of us that are married, do you remember when your kids started growing, and they’d say, “Dad, will you measure me?  Will you measure me?”  Right?  They don’t come in and say, “Oh gosh Dad, I grew another three inches.”  When you grow intellectually, and for some of us when you get on that computer and you actually punch the right buttons and something comes up, what happens?  Wow!  This is neat!  When you’re involved in a relationship and you sense it growing, and intimacy coming, and you work through it, what happens?  You’re excited.  When you begin to come into a relationship with Christ like 20 to 25 people did last weekend alone, and when they learn who He is, and what’s going on, they get excited.

We need to remember, though, that growth only comes from God.  We can get in the right environment, and we can apply ourselves, but growth, especially spiritual growth, it’s supernatural.  You can’t make it happen.  You can just position yourself where God can do it.  It’s not automatic.  My experience is it is very difficult.  It doesn’t just happen.  There are no magic pills.

And the other thing I’ve realized is that growth can be stymied, thwarted, stagnated, and retarded.  You know, you can take a plant out of the sunshine and put it in a closet.  What happens?  You can take an arm that is growing well and have it injured, put it in a cast, and what happens?  Atrophy.  Some common reasons that I’ve found that growth is stymied is sometimes we just don’t get motivated.  Other times, there’s that initial inertia, we can’t get through it.  For others, there’s no sense of progress.  We get discouraged.  Sometimes there’s just no inspiration.  It just seems like, uh.  For others, we get stuck and we need guidance.  For others, there’s a time of change and we don’t know how to get through that period of change.

I don’t know what it is, but this is what I know.  I know that everyone in this room finds themselves, at some point in time, in some area morally, spiritually, relationally, intellectually, or emotionally where you get stuck, where you get stagnated.  And when you do, and when I do, then that area of your life begins to shrink, but God wants you to grow.

So, here’s my question.  How are you growing today?  How are you growing?  How are you growing in your relationship with God?  How are you growing in your relationship with people?  How are you growing in your family life?  And here’s the question.  Would you like to learn how to break through those barriers of personal stagnation, especially in your relationship with God and people?

I’m gonna give you seven principles from Scripture, there may be 20.  There may be 100.  But as I’ve examined Scripture and lived life, and watched people who grow, it’s obvious that people who grow have at least these seven things in common.

People who grow, number one, live daily with the end in view.   People who are really growing are motivated.  In fact, this principle is the key to motivation.  One of the great problems with believers is some believers think that their goal in life is to get to heaven.  People, that’s not your goal in life!  That’s your destination!  Your goal in life is to become like Christ.  Romans 8:28 says that God takes every situation, every relationship, every hardship, every single thing that comes into your life and He works it together for good to those who are called, to those that He loves.  Why?

Verse 29, not nearly as often quoted, because He is pre-ordained to conform you, to conform me, to the image of His Son.  God’s game plan is to make you like Jesus.  That’s the goal.  In fact, notice Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  You might circle that word “perfect.”  Other translations it says mature.  It means fully grown.  It means ripe.  The Greek word is telios.  And I only tell you that because you get the idea of a telescope or those in philosophy who are familiar with The Teleological Argument.  It’s the idea of something arriving and coming to its full development.

God is saying, Jesus is saying, be ye perfect.  Come, come and become all that God designed you to become.  The Apostle Paul will say that’s, in fact, why the Church is designed.  Ephesians 4:13, he’s gonna say that these relationships in the body are all designed in order to help you and to help me become full grown or mature.  Look at it with me.  It says, “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become,” here’s our word again, same word, “mature.”  Circle that.  “Attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  It’s God’s goal.

And when you live with the end in view, that’s who you want to become.  The question in life when you get up every morning is not, what am I going to do today?  The question in life, everyday when you get up is, who am I gonna become more like today?  When you put that out there, that target on the wall, when you live with that end in view, you know what’ll happen?  You’ll be motivated.  I’m extremely motivated, ‘cuz do you ever reach it?  No, the Apostle Paul, says what?  I attain, I strive, not that I’m already there.  You’ll spend the rest of your life until Jesus comes back or you go meet Him, going after the prize of becoming more like Christ.

The second characteristic of people who grow, is they make a personal commitment to grow.  This is the key to overcoming inertia.  A lot of us don’t grow because we feel stuck.  Newton was right; I think both spiritually and in the Laws of Physics.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest until there’s an action upon it.  And often what we need in growth is not some big thing.  We just need to get moving.  But how do we break that inertia?  I believe the Scripture teaches, and that as I’ve observed people, they make a personal commitment to grow.

Notice that Jesus called for that in Luke 9:23.  He didn’t just teach.  He called for specific commitment to grow, to follow Him.  Verse 23 of Luke 9, “Then He, Jesus, said to them all, if anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  Did you hear that?  That means you sign up, I’m wanna grow.  Jesus, I’m gonna follow you.  Take up your cross means you die to your agenda, your goals, what you think is best, and you say I’m signing up, and I want to be on Your game plan.  Notice the reason being--it’s because He loves you not because He wants to keep something good from you.  “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it.  But whoever loses his life for Me will save it.”

Notice His rationale.  “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self.”  See, what God knows is this; is that you’re being bombarded day in and day out in a fallen world, and we all grew up with this baggage and these agendas, and we think if we could make a list of these 25 things that would work out in my life, then we’d be happy.  Seeking our life.  I want to be this, I want to be that.  I want to be this, I want to be that.  I’ve gotta have that, if I only have this.  And what He’s saying is you need to lose that.  Let go.  Because if God, in the next 50 years, gave you everything on your list, you would end up with everything you ever dreamed of and be absolutely an empty shell, and realize your ladder’s against the wrong wall.

But He says by contrast, the paradox of life is if you choose to sign up for what’s on His list, and there may be ones that are very similar, you sign up for what’s on His list and you let go, you will find your life.

You will become all, and beyond what, you ever dreamed of becoming.  ‘Cuz what would it gain for you or for me to have the whole world and yet forfeit, not just your soul spiritually, but notice this translation, it’s a good one, it’s your self.  Notice, it’s a specific point in time the Apostle Paul will write in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales.  Rather, train yourself to be Godly.”

There’s a decision involved.  Train yourself.  Follow me.  “For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things holding promise both for the present life and the life to come.”  Let me ask you now.  Has there ever been a point in time for all of you since you’ve become a Christian where you have driven a stake in the ground and said I’m gonna grow.  I mean come hell or high-water, come good relationships, bad relationships.  Come good circumstances, bad circumstances, I am going to follow Christ.  It’s kinda like what Joshua said, “As for me and my house…” the whole world can go a different direction, all my friends can go a different direction, but for me and my house, “…we will serve the Lord.”  Have you ever done that?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  I’ve said it for years.  I’m not ready for that.  I’m not ready for that.  You know what the misbelief is?  The misbelief is that we grow toward commitment.  That’s not true.  The way you grow is you build on commitment.  Now, some of you; many in this room are married, so you said “I do” before a group of people, right?  And you said I’m going to stick with this person come thick or thin.  Now, do you know what the thick and thin is when you signed up for it?  Heck no!  You didn’t know.  In fact, some of you wish you would have known.  But the fact of the matter is you build on that commitment, you don’t build toward it.  You don’t live together for 49 years and say, “You know, honey, I think this won’t work.”  You build on commitment.

How many of us when you had your first child felt like, we’re ready for this.  We’ve got this wired.  You know, it’s like, and then the second one comes and you’re like, eeh.  You know what you do though?  You don’t have what you need, but you’re committed as a parent to making it.  Let me ask you, have you ever done that?  See that’s how you break through that initial inertia.

You make the commitment and say, I’m going to go for broke.  I’m going to follow Christ.  And you think, what about, what about, what about?  He’ll give you, He’ll show you what to do.  But there are people that have spent their whole Christian life waitin’ for when they’re more mature, when they’re really ready.  You’ll wait ‘til Jesus comes and you’ll miss life.

Third, people who grow not only live daily with end in view, and so it’s the key to motivation.  Not only do they make a personal commitment, which is the key to overcoming inertia.  Third, they value process more than event, and that’s the key to progress.  See, what happens is we think growth happens in these huge spurts.  We think that there’s a magic pill, there’s a seminar, there’s a book, there’s a secret teaching, there’s a second experience, there’s something, somewhere, somehow.  There’s an area of the country and if you go visit that area of the country you get holy, and you get powerful, and everything’s gonna change.  You’re dreamin’.  That’s not the way life works.  People who really grow understand it’s the every day nickel and dime, tiny little decisions you make.  It’s the process that produces real growth.

Notice the writing to the Hebrews, written to a group of people that had stopped growing.  They started to grow, they were Jewish Christians, and then the heat turned up.  And there was persecution, and they were moving back into legalism and to the Law.  And the Book of Hebrews is written to this group, say, hey, Christ is superior to the Law.  Christ is superior to the priesthood.  Christ is superior to angels.  Christ is superior to Moses.

He’s saying, hey, get with the program.  It’s grace, baby, there’s a new covenant.  And he writes to this group of people.  Verse 11 is sort of a reproach, a little rebuke.  He says in Chapter 5:11, “We have much to say about this,” talking about spiritual growth, “but it’s hard to explain because you are slow to learn.”  They’re not growing.  “In fact though, by this time you ought to be teachers.  You need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again.”  He goes on to say, “You need milk like babies, not solid food.  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”  

Now, get the next verse.  Notice how growth occurs and look for the concept of the process.  “But solid food is for the mature” circle it, that’s our word again, telios“solid food, spiritual food is for the mature,” now get this, “who by constant use have trained themselves,” does that sound like a process?  “to distinguish good from evil.  Who by constant use,” not a big event – a little here, a little there, “constant use have trained themselves, the secret to your future is hidden in your daily routines.

Luke 16:10 says, “He that is faithful in a very little thing will be faithful also in much.  He who is unrighteous in a very little thing, is unrighteous also in much.”  You know, people tell me I really want to walk with God.  God doesn’t care about how I drive.  God doesn’t care whether I talk this way or do that.  God doesn’t care about those little decisions.  God doesn’t care about this.  I’ve got news.  God cares about that.  Because if you’re not faithful in little things, if I’m not faithful in little things, why would He entrust you with more?

God wants you to know it’s the very little things, the tiny attitudes with people, the tiny disciplines with Him, the little things.  A decision here, integrity here, relationship here, and you build on ‘em.  One Russian philosopher said, “A man spends the first half of his life building habits and the second half of his life will be determined by the habits he or she builds the first half.”  I’ll tell ya’, the most profound, beyond words, impact in my life in terms of whatever usefulness God has for my life now and in the future, was not a big event, it was not the schools that I’ve been to, it is not any great spiritual awakening.

You know the greatest impact when I look back, if someone said what’s the one thing that has shaped your life, Chip, more than anything else other than people?  I would say it was a bricklayer with a high school education shortly after I became a Christian who came to my dorm room and taught me how to have a daily quiet time.  And I couldn’t get up for the first year or so.  And then the next year I spent 5 – 7, maybe 10 minutes with God every morning before I went off to school, but, the discipline of on a daily basis, not a big deal, not mastering the Bible, not memorizing it all, but on a daily basis reading systematically through the Bible.  Meeting with God before I meet with people.  You know, you are what you eat and it’s true physically, it’s true psychologically, and it’s true spiritually.

And over the past 20, 23, 24 years that I’ve been a believer, I miss a day of course here and there, but it’s kinda, you know, I miss a meal now and then, too, but not many.  And so it’s just become a part of my life and you know what I’ve learned?  Is over the years I just get up and I read the Word, and I ask God, sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes I don’t feel much.  But I say, “God, I want You to speak to me, and I wanna learn who You are.  I wanna draw close to You and I know that You’re more important than the whole world, and the only way I can demonstrate that is stop and be with You first.”

And then I pray through my day.  And then I sit quietly and I ask Him to search my heart, and sometimes jot down some things He makes me aware of.  And for 23, 24 years I’ve just been going through the Book.  You know, there are pressures I’m facing now, and opportunities we’re having as a church.  I would feel overwhelmed, but you know what I know?  I’m going to get up tomorrow, and I’m going to meet with God, and He’s going to show me what to do next.  I don’t have a clue.  There are situations as a parent, you know, my teenagers have been through some hard times.  You know, we’ve had financial struggles, we’ve had marital struggles, we’ve had, I’ve shared most of ‘em.  But you know what the constant has been?  The rudder of my life?  God shows up every morning when I do.  And inch by inch over the years, little by little, that has been the primary shaper of my heart, my life, my values, and my relationships.  It doesn’t happen overnight.
Seven keys to personal growth.  The first, live daily with the end in view, it’s the key to motivation.  Second, make a personal commitment; it’s the key to overcoming inertia.  Third, value process more than event; it’s the key to progress.  See, you get discouraged thinking you’re not making progress.  You’re making progress.  Real growth is slow.  Fourth, cultivate stimulating relationships.  It’s the key to inspiration.  Growing people arrange their lives and their schedules, are you ready, to be around growing people.  To be inspired, to be challenged, to be stretched, every time I rub up against people that are walking with God and are ahead of me here, and they’re making progress there.  Every time I get near ‘em I want to lean forward into it.

And there are times when there are people that have huge needs and I feel inadequate.  And when I get involved in their life and I get stimulated, and I realize God can use a regular guy like me, He can use a regular person like you.  Growing people cultivate, I chose that word carefully.  You have to rearrange your schedule.  You cultivate stimulating relationships.  In fact, the Bible commands us to.  Hebrews 10:24-25 it says, “And let us consider, let us ponder how we may spur or stimulate one another on,” to what, “love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage, exhort,” get the idea, “one another all the more as you see the day approaching.  The day of Christ’s return.” 

You gotta have a small group.  You gotta have a mentor.  You gotta have a “mentoree.”  There are some people that can mentor you.  You can become close friends with some of the greatest people in the world today because of technology.  Billy Graham and I are on a first name basis.  I’ve never met him.  But I’m on page six hundred eighty something.  I’ve learned and been inspired because I’m reading his autobiography.

Every week I listen to three or four messages of other people around the country.  And they inspire me and they encourage me.  And it’s not a hard thing to say I’m going to read a half hour before I go to bed instead of watch TV for an hour before I go to bed.  Do you know what happens when you read a half hour before you go to bed and you do that 300 days a year?  It transforms your life.

See, some of us have just fallen into ruts and to habits, and God bless Dr. Laura and Rush, but we’re driving around town cuttin’ and burnin’ two and three hours a day listenin’  to junk that’s goin’ nowhere.  Now, there are some good insights you get from those people now and then, but see, you’ve got to cultivate with the time that you have, stimulating relationships.

Why?  Next verse Proverbs 13:20, “He who dwells with the wise man will be wise.  She who dwells with the wise woman will be wise.  But the companion of a fool will suffer harm.” 

I don’t know anything about you, but I can tell this about you and about me, right now.  Whoever your closest friends are, whoever you’re running with right now, in five years you’ll be just like them.  So, I’ve just made a decision.  I’m gonna run around with people better, smarter, more holy, more Godly, more energetic, more intelligent, more creative than me.  And I’m just praying some of it’s going to rub off.  You gotta balance the positive relationships with the draining relationships.  You need both.  Both stimulate.

Fifth, people who grow choose to become progressive risk takers.  It’s the key to change.  The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it’s impossible to please God.”  Not hard, it’s impossible.  Because anyone who comes to Him must believe two things; first that He exists, second that He rewards.  Do you believe that?  God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  God is looking to bless, and to honor your life, and to reward you.  He wants to do good in you, He wants to do good through you.

Where there is no risk, there is no faith.  Where there is no faith, there is no change.  Where there is no change, there is no growth.  It is impossible to grow unless you become a progressive risk taker.  Now, I put that word progressive in there, and I put the word choose for a reason.  ‘Cuz it doesn’t come easy does it?  Now, some of you had that spirit and you like change just because you like change.  The rest of the world kinda likes things the way they are, and change feels very threatening.

But if you want to grow, you must choose to become a progressive risk taker.  You must choose to move out of your comfort zone relationally and initiate things that you’re uncomfortable with.  You have to choose to move out of your comfort zone and get involved in ministry beyond what you think you can handle.  You have to choose to move out of your comfort zone, and your time, and your structure; and be a little more flexible than you’re comfortable with.  You have to choose to get out of your comfort zone and begin to do some things, financially, that will really reveal where your heart’s at.  And it’s risk.

If a personal quiet time transformed the values, the thinking, and the relationships and shaped my life in the area of faith, learning how to give biblically was, absolutely without a doubt, the greatest risk taking area ever.

Now, I didn’t grow up in church.  And the churches I grew up in I didn’t like.  And my big suspicion about Christianity was all they want is your money because that’s what it sounded like from those people on TV.

And so I trust Christ, and they give me a Bible, and I start reading it.  I had a long way to go in my views.  So, I’m a Christian three years and finally I decided I’m going to give $5.00 a month to this missionary couple in Japan, and I’m thinkin’… they may be the luckiest group in the whole world to get that from me.  I mean, I had a clear philosophy of giving growing up.  You give a quarter in the bag every time it comes around as a kid, when you get older you bump it to a dollar, and if you’re feelin’ kinda spiritual, you go with a $5.  I’m serious.   That was my view of giving.

The idea of a percentage, the idea of 10% of my gross income was like, are these people nuts?  I mean, where does this come from?  You know what I understood?  If you don’t learn according to Jesus to give your money, your heart, your time, your relationships, all those are a lot harder.  See, Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell combined.  Why?  He didn’t live in a mansion.  He didn’t want nor need anyone’s money.  What He understood is the link between money and your heart, money and worship is inseparable.  And so, according to Jesus, you can serve God or mammon, money, but there’s no in between.

And so early on, I started with $5.00, and then I started with 5 or 10%, and now over the years I willfully put myself in a place as a team, as a family, to give where if God doesn’t show up this year, Theresa and I have a major problem.  But He’s shown up in ways beyond what I ever dreamed.  And so we’ve learned to tithe to the General Fund, and then missions this year 2.5 or 3% of our salary goes to missions, and then we came up with another percent for this three-year commitment to the buildings.  You know what?  I’m not starving.  We’re among the richest people in the whole world.  And if I didn’t spend that money there and give, you know what?  I’d spend it someplace else.

And the fact of the matter is, I could give you a list of blessings in my life, but here’s the point; I’ve learned to trust.  Until you learn to trust with money, you really believe something tangible and easy where you can see God show up, you’re gonna start to break through life-long relational patterns?  Probably not.  You’re gonna take steps of risks into ministry?  You’re gonna begin to face things and say I’m going to be a difference-maker in my world?  See, it’s just, actually, the smallest risk you’ll ever take is learning how to give money.

Now, I know it’s a real taboo subject and all the rest in the Church because of so much poor teaching, and lack of teaching, and abuse.  But, the Bible, it’s clear.  If there’s no risk, there’s no faith.  And so that’s why Jesus said in this area, Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given unto you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over back into your lap.”  His point is you’re not going to out give Me; and I don’t want your stuff, I want your heart.  So give.  Give your time, give your compassion, give your money, give your love.  You know what happens?  It always will come back shaken down, pressed down, more.  I don’t know about you, but that was a toughie for me, and I really had to trust the people I was giving it to because I’m a skeptic.

It’s the key to change.  Unless you try something beyond what you can already do, you will never grow.  Have you realized that’s the way life works?  You know how God usually does that in your life?  Instead of us willfully choosing to put ourselves in that position, He brings in a crisis, doesn’t He?  He allows a crisis where you have this capacity and God brings a crisis or a situation that demands this.  And the distance between what you have and what’s required, you know what you do?  You grow.

You can’t handle it.  Boy, you have a child.  You get laid off work.  You have a problem relationship and the distance between, what do you do?  It’s amazing how my prayer life just perks right up when crisis occurs.  It’s amazing how I seek out stimulating relationships, like, what did you do with a teenage son?  Help me, help me, I’ve never been through this before.  You know?  It’s amazing, you will grow.  But God says you don’t have to wait for a crisis.  You can do it voluntarily.

Six, people who grow leverage life’s hardship.  It’s the key to character.  Notice what it says in James 1:2-4, “Consider it,” that means it’s a choice, “pure joy,” that’s an attitude.  “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  Not if, but whenever.  “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance or endurance.”  Now, notice what endurance does in your life.  “Perseverance or endurance must finish its work so that you may be,” here’s our word again, circle it, “mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

People who grow leverage life’s hardships.  Stagnant people--when difficulty comes their way, here’s their question:  Why me, Lord?  People who grow when hardship comes into their life, they say:  “What do you want to teach me, Lord?”  See the difference?  Stagnant people blame God, blame other people, and look outward.  Growing people say a sovereign God Who’s good, Who loves me, somehow has allowed something to come into my life that’s very hard.

And by His grace, the word here for endurance is hupomeno, literally, to be under the pressure of.  Hupo, under the pressure of.  And God puts something on your back and you can hardly take it.  And it’s heavy and you can hardly take it.

Ninety percent of success in life is not giving up!  You can hardly take it.  You can hardly take it.  You can hardly take it.  You know when you can hardly take something and there’s weight on your back, you know what happens after a while?  You athletes know, don’t you?  What happens?  Your muscles get stronger.  After a while the weight doesn’t change, but you strengthen and you can take that, and put that weight on a backpack, and walk right through life.  And we see people doing it with leukemia.  We see people doin’ it with shattered lives.  We see people who have been rejected and hurt, and boy, they walk right through life.  Because they’re special? No, they endured.

A little boy in our church had leukemia.  I talked with his dad last night, and he’s out filming as a Make A Wish Foundation, he’s out filming right now a movie with Robin Williams, a funny movie.  And he got a staph infection, talk about an unfair life, not because of the leukemia he got a staph infection and they amputated his arm.  He’s about 8, 9 years old.  Here’s what his dad told me last night.

He said, “You know leveraging life’s hardships?  You know what my little boy, Timmy, told me last night?  He said, ‘You know dad, sometimes I think it’s really good that God allowed this arm to go off.  He says, think of all the good things that would have never happened if I hadn’t lost my arm and had leukemia.’”  Do you hear it?

What’s your attitude?  Are you leveraging life’s hardship or are they leveraging you?  Notice the final one. People who grow make time for solitude and silence.  It’s the key to guidance.  Speaking of the life of our Lord, it says very early in the morning, literally a great while before dawn while it was still dark, Jesus got up, He left the house, He went off to a solitary place where He prayed.  See, growing people have a very clear sense of transcendence and worship.  If you read the context in Mark 1, it’s the busiest day ever recorded in the life of our Lord.  He’s teaching.  He’s praying.  People are packed in, they’re getting in from all, man, I mean He is just packed.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a day or a week like that I sort of think: “I deserve a break today so get out and get away.”  But Jesus didn’t.  Jesus understood the more pressure on your life, the more private time, the more silence, the more solitude you need with the Father.

And so after an exhausting day a great while before dawn, and I think I know what He prayed.  I think He prayed, “Father, man this thing is going too fast.  I feel pulled.  James wants this, John wants this, the crowd’s in, there are more needs, I can’t handle it.  Help Me remember, Oh God, Father being fully God, yes, but fully man help Me remember what You sent Me to do.  Everyone has a wonderful plan for My life, but I want the plan We came up with.  Give Me focus.”

And you’re saying, boy Chip, you must have tremendous insight to get all that out of that verse.  No, what I know is if you read the context afterwards, Peter, John, James, the guys say, “Hey, You were a hit!  It’s awesome!  The crowd’s waiting.  You’re famous, we’re famous.  It’s big time!”  And His answer was, “I have need to go to other towns and to other villages.  We must leave…”  Grammatically imperative, ‘must leave,’ “…for I came to preach, and to heal, and to forgive sins.”

You see, you need guidance and the only way you get guidance is by stopping life.  Busy-ness is the enemy’s tool for a barren life.  And we must stop and get guidance.  We must stop and remember what is it that we’re put on this earth to do?  So that we can come back and say no boldly to all the world’s wonderful plan for our life.  And you’re saying I don’t have time to stop.  I say, well why?  Well, because I’ve got to get to work.  Why are you going to work?  ‘Cuz I gotta do this, ‘cuz I gotta do that.  Well, why?

Well, ‘cuz I gotta, sez-a-hooah.  You’ve never had a sick day at work?  You’ve never had something happen where life stopped for two days and you had to go to the Emergency Room?  And I bet the company just fell apart both days, right?  See, the fact of the matter is we can choose to stop planning our schedule, and hear from God.  I think you need to do it a little everyday, and I think every month or six weeks you need a full day to say Lord, help me remember why I’m here, where I’m going.

If you want to do a quick review people who grow have some things in common.  People who grow live daily, wow, with the end in view.  It’s the key to motivation.  People who grow make a personal commitment to grow.  Have you made it?  It’s the key to overcoming inertia.  Third, people who grow value process more than event.  It’s the key to progress.  Fourth, people who grow cultivate stimulating relationships.  It’s the key to inspiration.  Fifth, people who grow choose to become progressive risk takers.  It’s the key to change.

People who grow leverage life’s hardships.  It’s the key to character.

And finally, people who grow make time for solitude and silence.  It’s the key to guidance.  Want a game plan for today?  First, make a commitment to grow today.  Second, prioritize the area of your growth.  There’s a domino principle here.  You can’t do all seven of these things.  Don’t even try.  What one thing is a little light that keeps pulsating in your heart and your mind that says I need to address that.  And you address that and then God will show you.  Don’t get overwhelmed.

Third, take one specific step this week even if it’s small.  But do something.  Take a step toward God, one specific step this week.  Write it down and tell someone.  Growth is exciting.  It’s normal.  It’s fun.  It’s fantastic.  It’s difficult.  It’s not automatic, and we get stuck, but we don’t have to stay there, do we?