This story appears in FCA Magazine’s January/February 2018.
“So on October 2 the wall was finished — just fifty-two days after we had begun… [Their enemies] realized this work had been done with the help of our God.” – Nehemiah 6:15, 16b
Several months ago, as I was preparing for a Spartan Super race, I had a stark realization: I wasn’t training with the type of intensity needed to do my best. With just a few weeks until race day and having competed in the event before, I was well aware of just how much suffering was coming for me if I didn’t get my act together.
I had fallen into an age-old trap for competitors. I had the “want to” (the desire to have a great race) and the “will to” (the conscious decision to go for it), but I was lacking the “work for” (bringing dedication and discipline to my daily workouts and effort).
I wanted it to be easier. I wanted the results without the suffering along the way. What I was forgetting was, if I truly wanted the results, I had to be dedicated.
There are so many days where I don’t feel like working out, eating right, or going to bed early enough to wake up refreshed and ready to go. I don’t feel like training when I’m sore or tired or busy. But I do it anyway, because that’s what it takes to be my best. It takes unwavering, uncompromising dedication to the goal.
Nehemiah is the epitome of what it looks like to work wholeheartedly for a cause that honors and glorifies God. When God plants a vision in us and gives us the passion to go for it, He asks us to work. Then, incredibly, He multiplies our efforts and magnifies His Name in the process. As we surrender to His plan and put our hand to the plow, He does more than we could ever ask or imagine. In Nehemiah’s case, with unwavering determination and dedication, God’s people completely rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem in an astonishing 52 days.
We never drift toward greatness; we drive toward it on a daily basis. Greatness doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a choice. It’s not found in good intentions; it’s fought for in gritty action.
We never drift toward greatness; we drive toward it on a daily basis.My daughter Grace is one of the most determined people I know. When she was diagnosed with vision problems that forced her to spend 2-3 hours longer struggling through homework, she worked. When she began therapy to fix her double vision, she not only did it at the doctor’s office, but she spent countless hours doing the exercises at home and corrected her vision in half the expected time. When she was wait-listed for the high school she wanted to get into, she continued to pursue the opportunity with tenacity, even personally writing the president of the school to describe why it was important to her. Now, she wants to make the high school’s swim team, so she’s asking me to coach her and get her enough pool time to get ready.
Grace just flat-out works. And she inspires me.
And, by the way, she doesn’t always win. (None of us do.) But she fights for it, and she always learns. She has become the embodiment of desire, determination and dedication. After watching her for years, I’ve discovered her formula for success can be summarized in three steps:
Pick your prize. Start with setting a wildly important goal — a goal so bold it stretches you beyond your comfort zones. Checking your motives is the key to this step; you have to know your “why.” Identifying the things God has made you passionate about helps you pursue them with the right heart, glorifying God regardless of the outcome. Achieving our goals can never be about the trophies; it’s all about the testimonies (1 Corinthians 9:23-25).
Count the cost. Nothing worth achieving will come easy. So examine the cost. What decisions and disciplines will be required along the way? What habits will you need to establish? How much training will be involved? Jesus encourages us to consider what it will take before we begin (Luke 14:27-29).
Pay the price. Once the first two steps are complete, the real work begins. Making daily progress — regardless of how you feel — is what will keep you on track. Believe me, you will have to destroy the distractions inviting you to get off track or to take the easy road. You have to crush those little compromises, celebrate small successes, and go to work every day (Colossians 3:23).
Let’s do this! Dedicate yourself to pursuing God-sized goals, and get to work. It will be the most exhilarating pursuit of your life. In the end, God just might accomplish something hugely important through you that makes a lasting difference in the world.
Dedicated to Dedication:
1. Pick Your Prize: What is a wildly important, God-given goal you want to pursue? Why is it important to you?
2. Count The Cost: What will it take to make that goal a reality? What things might you have to change (start or stop)?
3. Pay The Price: What steps will you take to make progress toward your goal?