As 2015 drew to a close my heart began to stir. A feeling of restlessness began to set in. As the days went on that feeling of being stuck grew stronger. Don’t get me wrong. Things were good and my life was filled with many blessings. I just had these feelings of stagnation and discontent. I struggled and then I read this:
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people.”
This one sentence of scripture (Luke 2:52) hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. Right there, in front of my eyes, was the answer to my situation. It was crystal clear and unbelievably simple. One word danced on the page like a breakdancer on a piece of cardboard.That word cried out to me. That word was GREW.
I realized at that moment that was too content with life. I was falling into the pit of status quo. I started to question if I was really living or just existing. I wasn’t growing. That is why I felt stuck. I had lost sight of continual improvement and growth. I had to make changes. I had to change my priorities. I re-read that one verse of scripture over and over again. I understood exactly where and how I needed to grow. It was articulately spelled out for me in that 15 word sentence. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people.” Jesus grew. I want to be like Jesus. I need to grow and grow in these areas: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. That is exactly what I sat out to do.
I spent the last few days of 2015 examining my life in regards to these four areas and identified real, applicable ways that I could grow. I then set goals and metrics that would allow me to track my progress throughout the year. I knew I needed a way to hold myself accountable or I would flounder around and fail to achieve my desired results. Here are some of my thoughts and goals:
Growing in wisdom (mentally) – We can never know too much. We can always learn. Being active learners allows us to be greater leaders and enhances our influence. I needed to expand my knowledge base around the things I love. I subscribed to blogs that center around fatherhood, philanthropy and giving, and my work. I also made the decision that I needed to read more. I set a goal to read 12 books during 2016. To many of you that may not seem like a lot of books as you read 30 or more every year. I can honestly say that I haven’t read 12 books over the last 5 years combined. So my goal of one a month for twelve months is a stretch. To date I have already read 8 and I am half-way through number 9. Each and every book that I have read thus far has had a pronounced effect on my life. I have learned to enjoy reading which means I am spending less time watching terrible television. In addition to books and blogs I made the decision to start a journal. This has always been a struggle for me. I am happy to say that I have written my thoughts, feelings and experiences every day since January 1st and it is now part of my routine. Each of these simple, yet disciplined tasks, have allowed me to gain new knowledge and perspectives.
Growing in stature (physically) – I am 40 years old and 6’9” inches tall. I don’t think that I can grow in stature at this point in my life, but I can grow in regards to health. I have inconsistently worked out and ran over the last few years. My body would hurt and I would make excuses that led me to stop my routines. This year I wanted to regain my health and ultimately be in the best shape of my life. I joked for years that I would be dead before I was 50 because of no sleep, bad eating habits, poor physical conditioning and stress. As I prepared to turn 40 this year I realized that it wasn’t something to joke about. I needed to get serious. My goals for this year are to run 400 miles, do 12,000 push ups and sit-ups, lose 10 pounds and sleep at least 6 hours a night. I have a lot of work to do over the next few months, but I am making progress. I am currently registered and training for a half-marathon in October.
Growing in favor with God (spiritually) – This is the most important area of growth for me. I know that if my spiritual life is healthy and good, my earthly life will follow suit. I needed more of God and less of man and this world. So, I set some very specific goals for the year. First, read His Word (The Bible) everyday. It has to be part of my routine because I need every bit of it. I would love to say that read it everyday, but I don’t. I have to be better. I have completed the entire New Testament and have found so much wisdom and encouragement in my readings. Second, complete a one-year devotional. I am on track with this goal. I am reading Tony Dungy’s Uncommon Life devotional and it has been life-changing for me. I start each day by reading it and praying about the message. I then look for ways to apply the teaching into that day. Lastly, I set a goal to pray daily. My prayer life has never been good. It has been inconsistent, even lethargic at times. I am getting better, but not where I need to be.
Growing in favor with all of the people (socially) – We need people. We need life-giving relationships. I set a goal to spend more time meeting in person with people this year, building relationships. I want to pour into the lives of others and I now know that I need that as well. I cannot do this life alone. Because of my focus in this area, my relationships and friendships are growing. The fellowship I am experiencing with people of all ages, races, cultures has been amazing. In addition to friendships I need to continue to spend more time focusing on my family. I must be a better husband. I have to be a better father. I can only do that by being present and giving it my best effort at all times.
As I sit and write my thoughts on August 5 I can look back and see how much I have grown so far this year. Am I content where I am and ready to stop? Absolutely not. I truly feel like I have just begun. My commitment to growth this year has changed my life and opened new doors. My relationship with my Lord and Savior is better than ever. I am growing as a husband, father and friend. My health is good and I am on track to successfully complete the Fort 4 Fitness. I have a new children’s book that will release in October. I am beginning a new career with Destiny Rescue and will actively pursue my passion to inspire people to live life with purpose on purpose. I am growing and it feels good. Not just good, it feels outstanding!
I share this with you not to brag about my accomplishments because I haven’t accomplished anything. I just want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it. If we are not growing, we are shrinking. We want our children to grow and our plants to grow, When they don’t, we become concerned. Are you concerned about your own growth? If not, you should be. You are never too old, too out-of-shape, too tall, too anything to grow. You just have to make a decision to do it. You have to stop making the excuses that keep your feet stuck in the mud and move forward.
So, what are you waiting for? Go and GROW!