Friday, September 28, 2012

Taking Steps

"Where there is no vision, the people perish…" -Prov. 29:18 It's the end of September, and time to dust off those New Years' resolutions. With three months left in the year 2012, those goals we set back in January are probably in a drawer somewhere or in the county land fill. But the good news is, it's not too late! It all begins with becoming reacquainted with the goals and taking steps. That's the hard part. Remember, kids imitate what they see much more than what they hear. Let them observe you pursuing goals. Laotzu, a Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 B.C., said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Taking that first step requires initiative and action. We hesitate because I think we intuitively know that if we begin the process, then we're responsible. Even if we are the last person to take the first step, we can still finish the race. We were in Des Moines a few months ago, helping our daughter, Elizabeth and family move in. I went running one morning and passed an old house (picture attached). It looked vacant, but I didn't peek inside to make sure. I couldn't help but notice the front steps. Obviously, they were once sharp and sturdy, but now, they were frail and crumbled. Houses, steps and goals do that when they're not used for a while. That's because when things are left stagnant, they rot. Wine get's better with age, but unmet goals get worse. Jeanie and I are "empty nesters" these days and you can tell it from our pantry and refrigerator. We once had a parade of people marching through our kitchen eating anything edible, but now the traffic has dwindled. So, we encounter moldy grapes in the bottom drawer of the fridge and the occasional stale bread in the drawer. Like that soured carton of milk in the back of the fridge, we throw out our neglected things when they're rotten. They don't smell very good. We prefer fresh and new. The same is true with goals. That's why there are so many diet plans advertised on TV. They all look new and inviting. Sure, they're just like the one we purchased last year, but maybe this one will be different. Like my late boss, Richard Beach, used to say, "All the diet plans are the same- eat less and exercise more. I'm not paying someone to tell me that." In the end, most of us have goals related to our families, our health, our God and our money. Nothing new. But the steps to getting there are what matter. Without the steps, we won't get from point A to point B. When you're setting goals, be sure your sequential steps to reaching the goal follow two guidelines: Steps need to be reachable. When building steps for a building, there are OSHA guidelines that have to be followed to assure that the steps are accessible. Be sure your steps are challenging but realistic. Robert Browning said, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" We should try for the best that we can achieve, not what we can easily have. Steps need be purely motivated. Hitler had huge goals, but his ugly motives led to his downfall. Goals with a pure motive aren’t always reached, but they spread grace along the way. The process is just as important as the end result. Steps genuinely motivated by God are pure. So, take those steps and move forward. You'll feel better about yourself. Don't be intimidated by the steps lying before you. If the steps need some updating, make the repairs. And then you'll accomplish those New Years' resolutions. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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