“All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty,” (Proverbs 14:23). Goals are interesting things. We can talk about many ideas, many things we want to do, but only when we take concrete action steps do we find our work profitable.
I remember sitting at a bar with a guy I worked with years ago. It had been a long night at the restaurant we both worked at. I felt like I had run my feet off waitressing, we were so busy. To complicate matters, our corporate headquarters had sent down a new edict on how steak should be prepared and as a consequence, the kitchen had run behind all night. There were several unhappy customers. Since this guy was one of the lead chefs, he had borne the brunt of it.
As I sat down to join him, he unloaded on me, venting all of his frustration about what he viewed as a very ineffective leadership team steering the fate of the restaurant. But after he was through, his demeanor began to change. His eyes light up and his face, previously angry and hard, began to soften, and the corners of his mouth started to lift. Even his tone changed as he told me about what he would do differently if he were completely in charge. He then launched into his life’s dream of someday opening up his own restaurant, sharing with me how he would run it and what he would do. The transformation in him as he talked was remarkable. He was one of those cranky guys who always seemed upset at something or someone. To see his face light up with joy and hope was amazing.
Yet something else struck me as well. His “someday” would probably never come. There was no specific opening date, no idea of how he might get started, no savings goals in place, and no relationships being built to make those things happen. He had no real plan. He was a talented chef. He had some great insights. But even at that young age, I knew as I listened to him unless something changed, his dream would remain just that—a dream. It would be a place he could retreat to as a young man to feel better, or a regret he would stare at longingly as an older man, chastising himself about what could have been, but nothing more.
A hospice nurse who worked with the dying said she observed the biggest regret people had in their lives wasn’t about time they wished they had spent with their family, though that was certainly high on the list at #2. The biggest regret was not doing anything about their dreams. They just plowed forward, getting caught up in the day-to-day, never making intentional decisions to leave certain things behind and reach toward their passion. As they lay dying, it was the regret of not making more intentional choices that haunted them most.
One beautiful thing I have discovered about life is it’s never too late to start reaching for your dreams and learning how to make them a reality. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself with God. I’ve also learned the value of being willing to take that very first step, no matter how scary, even if I’m not entirely sure what comes next (click HERE for more on leaps of faith). And the more I lean into God during this process, the more He spurs me on and helps me overcome my fears of both failing … and succeeding. He reminds me that He isn’t just a god of second chances, He’s the God of the 77×7 chances the Bible talks about in Matthew 18:22. I find the hard work starts paying off, not always quickly and not always in the straight-forward fashion I would prefer, but consistently for the good as I let God steer me on.
God never quits believing in you, never stops wanting to help you find the best version of who He’s made you to be. Think of yourself as a ship. Ships can be steered, but they have to be moving to be able to do so. What can you do to get moving? You don’t need to have all the answers yet. You don’t need to understand how it’s all going to work out. Even if you have an amazing plan, God has a way of altering it as you go anyway. So just keep reaching toward Him, prayerfully deciding to take one step, and then another, and then another toward a better, richer life. Dream, yes, but listen to God’s wisdom and accompany that dream with specific action. And remember—doing so comes with a promise: your life will profit richly from the process.
For Further Thought: We are told in Proverbs 13:4, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” What do you desire? Pray about it with God. Come up with a plan together. Trust in the direction He’s leading you in, even if it’s counterintuitive. As you start taking those specific, concrete steps toward your dream, remember it’s not about executing each step perfectly; it’s about keeping yourself consistently moving. If you allow Him to, God will do the rest. Need help with CONSISTENCY? Click HERE. LOST your DREAMS? Click HERE. TO SUBSCRIBE: It’s super easy. Add your email address in the upper right hand corner. You’ll receive The Dented Fender each week to your inbox.