“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
– James 1:2-7
I can feel the fatigue. It’s like a vulture perched on my shoulders. With 238 emails to go, a few hundred more messages, and never ending lists to do, I try to muster whatever energy last night’s broken sleep allowed me, and sit on the dining table to type. I have to practice what I preach. “If you go to the gym and you’re not exhausted after, did you really get a workout? If you went to battle with the day, if you went to work, and your soul isn’t stretched, did you really live that day?” I like to ask my team. “Being tired is proof you didn’t hold back on life. Don’t hold back on life. Someday, you’ll look back, and you’ll have one of two thoughts: Woah! Look at what we’re now able to accomplish or Yikes! What happened to the time? Why don’t I have much to show? You don’t want to be the latter. Don’t hold back on life. Give every day the very best that you’ve got.”
What does it mean to give your best? Let me tell you exactly what it means:
- It means you’re a net contributor (not a net taker): this simply means your life contributes significantly more to the world than it takes, and I don’t mean some cheap inspiration, but contributes to the purpose, growth, and freedom of others. It means we seek to give back to our parents, not merely live off them. It means we discipline ourselves to be effective at work, not merely use the job for money or prestige. It means that we are vigilant about supporting our spouse’s success more, not merely preoccupied with our own expectations and entitlements. It means we are serious about making concrete contributions, NOT merely wanting to be appreciated for random acts we do at our own convenience, despite not consistently making an impact because we lack maturity to embrace the necessary discipline and hardship true impact requires. Giving each day your best means accepting the hardships of the day, facing them bravely, calmly, with faith, and with a determination that despite our own adversity, we will not only succeed, but, in the process, become an overwhelming source of goodness instead of walking talking drains.
- It means your energy is wisely being spent on purpose (not randomly). People want the freedom to do whatever they want, when they want, how they want, why they want, and it’s true we are free to live so to a point. But we are not free to choose the consequences of living without purpose. Purpose for me is an inner North Star to help me make sense of the swirling storm inside me. When there are options, and challenges, and offers, and doubts, and guilt, and dreams, and responsibilities, I close my eyes and imagine a bright light in the dark stormy skies of my soul, and I tell myself “sail there”. Do I wake up even though I’m tired? I look at the light of purpose and say, “rise there”. Do I study even if I’m weary? I look at the light of purpose and say, “illuminate these words.” What should I do with my day? What should I do with my weekends? What should I do with my after-work? What should I do – period? I look at the light of my purpose and I say, “Here I come.” To live purposefully simple means to live “on-purpose” meaning, you base your thoughts and actions on the why of your life, your reason for being, and this better be more than some formulaic logic or some inspirational fart as life’s curveballs won’t sustain these. The best description I’ve heard of purpose is that it is a great furnace inside. You know you’re living on purpose if you’re burning for it every day.
- Finally, It means you grew as much as possible in every possible way. It means reaching out. It means digging deep. It means stretching beyond your limits. It means challenging yourself. The Bible says that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man. Even Jesus improved in these areas. I like it that the word used was “grew” meaning, He added to what wisdom, stature, and favor He originally started with. In the same way, we are gifted with an infinite capacity to learn and expand ourselves, but too many times, we limit ourselves to the easy stuff, the comfortable topics, the subjects we get. We don’t allow ourselves to be challenged, to transcend, and to overcome our weaknesses. To grow in every way means to get good at math even if you’re not a math person, because you know it can only make your life better. It means improving in language and communications even if you’re not a communicator, knowing that it’s an important step to connecting with others. It means challenging the limits we’ve placed on ourselves and the statements we’ve accepted about things we can and cannot learn. It means being humble throughout life, saying, “Good days, bad days, friend, adversity, teach me. I want to learn.”
I’m tired. I can feel the vultures claws tightening. I smile to myself at the thought, that once again I gave today the very best of me.