My wife and I are expecting our second child any hour. As I’ve had the privilege to walk through this journey twice, it never ceases to amaze me at how quickly things change, specifically as it relates to priorities. While most would consider my wife and I “young” parents ourselves, we oftentimes get the opportunity to talk “younger”, newly expecting, first-time parents. Personally, I enjoy it. I REALLY enjoy getting an opportunity to see just how nervous I can make the ever-so vulnerable, ever-so gullible, first-time-dad-to-be by slightly over exaggerating stories of what he should be “ready for”. Ruthless I know, but I just can’t seem to resist. On a more serious note, we also get to share our two stories, and then have a front row seat to the unexpected, life-altering priority shift new mom and dad are sure to experience upon the arrival of their first-born son or daughter. In sharing, we always make the same statement:
“In a moment, those things which seem so important to you now will become extremely unimportant and the things which seem so unimportant will become vitally important”.
All of a sudden, those shoes you once qualified (and justified) as a high need item are replaced with the true high need items: diapers. The dream car you just bought with the not-so dream payments immediately goes on market for sale in order to free up capital to put toward the acquisition of a “new ride”, a used lawn mower, so that you can consistently mow the grass (every 7-10 days for those wondering) you once left uncut for extended periods of time. Savings accounts once dedicated (and depleted by) shopping sprees become accounts dedicated to future college funds. Debt reduction, wills, and life insurance become excitable topics of study and conversation. Individual thinking gives way to generational thinking, impulsive purchasing to strategic planning, and irresponsibility to responsibility. The list could go on, but you get the point. Priorities take an abrupt turn, ready or not.
While I can’t necessarily speak for my wife on this, a new priority specifically that emerged for me starting with our daughter, Avery, and currently being re-emphasized and deepened with our soon-to-be-born son, Brody, was/is…
THE PRACTICE OF SIMPLY BEING PRESENT, OF LIVING IN NOW AND LEAVING NEXT TO GOD.
Although initiated and motivated by my family, it’s a practice I’ve carried with me into nearly every other area of my life and here’s what I can tell you: what‘s simple is not always what’s easy. But, why does it have to be this way? What does it seem like the simplest concepts to understand are oftentimes the hardest to apply? For the past five and half years (age of my daughter), these are the questions I’ve pondered in depth. I’ve considered answers ranging from a personality type conflict, to a nature versus nurture conflict, to a devil-who-hates-me conflict, and everything in between. However, none of these have felt as satisfactory as much as the constant, and somewhat, incessant conflict we all face with the societal/cultural influences surrounding us.
Let me explain.
We live a world infatuated with “next”. Some refer to it as “dreams”, others call it “purpose” or “meaning”, and others still, deem it a “vision” or “calling”. In any case, next is always a reference to some type of future we are not currently living. To support the hypothesis, one doesn’t need to look much farther than the 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week bombardment of marketing messages, program offerings, and/or direct sells “opportunities” presented to us on a through our own social media pages. At this point, it’s worth highlighting that I have absolutely no problem with any presentation, regardless of the platform, seeking to help others better their lives. After all, that’s why we exist: to give the best of who we are and what we have for the benefit and betterment of others.
The problem for me lies within the common promotion and processes of those programs. They typically offer a path to next by making us feel bad about, frustrated by, or unfulfilled by what’s now. From a sales technique standpoint, I get it. Nothing drives a buying decision, or a buy-it-now decision quite like emotions, be they good or bad, and as sales people, we sometimes have to create the emotion(s) we want to get the decision we want. This, ladies and gentlemen (for those that don’t know) is sales and marketing 101. It’s a tactic that’s been used by and taught by the best of the best throughout history. It works and qualifies as a great tactic….until it doesn’t.
Jesus taught: Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10 BSB)
We could continue in a same pattern, saying, “Whoever is disrespectful with very little will also be disrespectful with much, and whoever dishonors with very little now will be dishonorable with much next. Using Jesus’ words as our guide, we can see any program that “works” by promoting an agenda to overlook, disregard, disrespect, or hate undesirable now responsibilities in order to attain more desirable next responsibilities doesn’t really (or righteously) “work”.
So, what’s the point?
The point is dream your dreams, see your visions, pursue a better tomorrow, but do it the Jesus way: by taking what’s in your hands now, like it or not, and faithfully stewarding it as if what you want next depends on it because it most certainly does.
Just because we all know people who got to their next place of life, their “dream life”, by doing the opposite doesn’t mean it’s right or admirable. Effective maybe, but admirable, not at all, especially to Jesus. So, the real question we should ask ourselves is this:
While they (or you) got your “dream”, did the people you left get theirs? Did you leave your previous place of employment better than you found it, or did you leave it in a deficit?
How you answer those questions matter — they matter to the attainability, and more importantly, sustainability, of your next stop in life. Steward wisely, my friends.