Courageously Committing

 “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred… unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



Meaningful decisions that lead to personal transformation begin with courageous commitment and are brought to completion with burning desire and determined dedication.  This is one of the most important principles a person can learn in life. Many people wait for God to move and then they act. We have found at the Center for Christian Life Enrichment (CLE) that having the faith to risk stepping out into the unknown triggers the collaborative assistance of God.


Living by faith demands that we take risks and are willing to live our lives as an adventure in learning. Carol Dweck’s research on living with a growth mindset says that if we are not taking risks and making mistakes then we are not learning to our capacity. For some, learning came to a halt when they stopped going to school. I believe God designed us to be lifelong learners. We need to be living our lives in such a way that we are continually learning and growing. Taking risks, making mistakes, and incorporating the lessons learned is the formula for expanding faith and living increasingly fruitful lives.


I think of the growth mindset as the foundation for living by faith, recognizing that God is more concerned about our development and maturation than He is in us getting everything right. God is not a neurotic perfectionistic control-freak who is obsessed with us doing everything correctly. Instead, I believe God is a guide, mentor, coach, teacher and father who wants us to learn, grow, risk, and make mistakes in the pursuit of learning and living an abundant life. His plan is that we live courageously and learn from our mistakes as we become like His son, Jesus.


I have been inspired by the testimony of this courageous teenager whose speech I shared in my last blog post (Celebrating Courage and Commitment). Her dedication to learn and grow is highlighted by the fact that when she went out for cross country as a freshman in high school, she was out of shape and had never run competitively. She saw her life as an adventure and she wanted more. She knew she needed something and she understood that it was her responsibility to go out and get it. She wasn’t waiting for life to come to her. Somehow, she understood that it was her job to take risks and pursue opportunities.


She identified that distance running was interesting and valuable and she went out for the team. She knew she was inexperienced and was not unusually gifted athletically. Her success was the result of her initial commitment, her ongoing dedication and practice, her care for and investment in her teammates, and the support of her team and community. She led with her hunger and her character instead of her talent. She was quickly recognized as a leader and contributor on the team even though she was never one of the top atheletes.


This story is especially touching to me because I have lived with the mistaken belief that only those who are the best athletically are winners. My value as a human being has been a function of a host of external measures of success. For me, historically my success has been an illusive prey. When I first competed in a sport, my worth and value depended on whether I made the team. Once I made the team, the issue then became whether I would earn a starting position. Once I became a starter, then the question was whether I would earn all-league honors. If I made all league, then the concern would be whether I earned all state honors.  The measurement of my worth and value continued to move beyond what I could ever achieve. The net result was at some point I would fail to reach the goal and achieve the recognition. Was I now a failure?


All of these goals share the quality of having an external locus of control. They are all outside of the person and represent some form of external accomplishment and validation. The issue is not what you yourself value; instead, the issue becomes what those outside of you decide are the measures of success. Those objectives, like the rabbit at the dog track, eventually end up being beyond our grasp.


What inspires me in this story is that this young lady may have never won a race. Her last race was a PR (short, for personal record time). Her best time may never have resulted in her placing in a race. What then was she running for?  Instead of winning, she was competing. Instead of being the best, she was working hard. Instead of being the star, she was more interested in serving the team. She led from the pack instead of from the front. She earned her position as team captain based on her character as well as her commitment to the well being of her teammates.


This young lady is an inspirational transformational leader.  She is learning the power of living from principles instead of from performance. She is learning how to experience the joy and nourishment resulting from living true to her heart’s desires.

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Published: 04.12.2011 / 02:18 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Health and Fitness,Relationships,Spiritual Growth

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