“Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”
I’m a self-proclaimed “idea geek.” Basically this means I start at least 50% of my sentences with “Hey, here’s an idea….” At which point those around me grow quiet and tense, especially those who know this idea is going to mean a disruption of the status quo and most likely, work. This group includes my husband, sons, and most of the people I’ve ever worked with! I actually had a supervisor tell me I just had too many ideas for one organization. (Translation: Could you please stop coming up with new things we could do?)
In some ways he was right. Too many ideas can be a detriment to actually accomplishing anything. It pains me to write this, but it is completely true. And I have to confess to you, it’s a truth I know all too well. There are times when coming up with new ideas is easier than following through on the ones already in action. And there are times when I’ve acted on an idea too quickly and now have to expend precious energy fixing or finishing something I never should have started.
The point is: ideas alone are not enough. Ideas must lead to action! Action is the ultimate goal. Action on our part; action that moves us forward. And action on the part of others. I may have lots of ideas, but the only ones that really matter are the ones I act on.
I was thinking about why I struggle to act on some ideas and the challenges that creates, when I came across this scripture. I quickly wrote it in my journal and began to dissect what it was saying:
To lag means to fall behind in movement, progress, or development; not keep pace with another or others.
Zeal is the energy, enthusiasm, passion, and attention required.
And my favorite, endeavor describes work, pursuits, tasks, dreams and goals.
In my own life and work, I’ve experienced this. I’ve found myself lagging, falling behind, stalling out, not being preemptive and proactive. I’ve been mentally tired at times, not able to focus, and not making traction on things that really matter to me. This verse encourages me to keep pressing on. It also reminds me that I’m not doing anything in my own strength, but “aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord.”
As I processed this, I began to identify the reasons I’ve “lagged” behind. You may relate to them, or you may identify other reasons in your own life…
1. I’m not sure where to start. When this happens, one question really helps me: What’s my next step? If that next step it not well-defined or realistic for me to take, I need to reexamine that idea or goal. Otherwise I will continue to lag behind the project.
2. I’m distracted. When this happens, I need to clean out my to-do list. Yep, you heard me. I most likely have way too many things on my list, and some of them have to go. Perhaps they need to be put off, or perhaps they need to just “get off” my list permanentaly. It’s true, you can remove things from your list altogether. Did you know you could do that? According to Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing you can! In a recent podcast on Leading a Team, he shares his tips for getting things done, and taking things off his to-do list was one of his tips. And since I discovered that, it’s been liberating. (You may think you have nothing you could lose…I thought the same thing! But I challenge you right now. Go take a look. Choose one thing NOT to do and dump it. I promise it will be ok…)
3. I’m tired. When this happens, I take an honest look at my schedule and usually see that I’ve been out of balance for a period of time. And while it seems counterproductive, sometimes resting and some mental time off is what we need to be able to take action.
4. I’m tapped. When this happens, we need to refill the tap, so to speak. It’s like the worn out illustration of the car running out of gas…but you are out of zeal. This is the time to do something that energizes you; like lunch with a partner or coach, an afternoon at a ball game, a long walk, an afternoon reading, you get the idea! This isn’t just downtime, it’s productive energizing time. What Todd Henry of The Accidental Creative calls a “Purposeful Experience.” This time is designed to refocus your mind and generate fresh inspiration and motivation.
5. I’m isolated. When this happens, I need to create space for communication and feedback. Perhaps a call with a client or mentor. Or an online chat with a new contact or connection. The longer I go without positive human interaction, the longer I will lag behind in my goals and in my purpose. Finding a way to encourage or serve someone outside of my normal circles also inspires me with fresh zeal…and often opens up doors of opportunity or relationship that benefit me in the long run.
I hope these thoughts help you examine your own “lag habits” and find new ways to take action even when you don’t feel like it. Only by taking action can we turn our amazing ideas and God-given vision into a reality that blesses others.
What are some of the reasons you find yourself lagging behind? And how have you learned to overcome them?