How to Make Your Life Count
- Palmer Chinchen
- 2016 14 Jun
Every person who has ever lived on planet earth has wrested with the questions, Why am I here? What is my quest? Does my life matter?
It does!—to God in heaven and to all of us here below. You live a one and very important life. Don't waste it.
Here's what I have realized, we don't fall backwards into the life God had divinely purposed for us. It takes guts and hard work. It may take writing a million words.
A MILLION WORDS
I was having lunch with author Ted Dekker recently and asked him the question I love asking creatives: How did you become a writer?
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Ted is an expatriate. He was born in a remote New Guinea village. His answer was intriguing. Ted said he wasn’t always a writer. A business major in college, Ted jumped straight into marketing. Immediately he knew he was good at it. Maybe it was a skill he learned from the Irian Jaya traders. By age thirty, however, Ted felt increasingly drawn to his greatest passion—writing. He had never studied to be a writer, was never employed as a writer, or even had an article published. But he felt God had filled his soul with a story that had to be told. So he quit the marketing business, and he and his wife pooled all they had to pay cash for a small home outside of Austin, where Ted started to write.
His first novel, Heaven’s Wager, was rejected by every publisher that read it. So Ted wrote a second novel. No better luck. Rejection again. Ted wrote a third and a fourth. In fact, Ted said he wrote more than a million words—literally—before a publisher bit. And then he sold a million books.
Lives of remarkable purpose demand hard work. No one falls backward into—or stumbles upon—a life of great purpose. Great purpose is always preceded by determined, impassioned, relentless effort. Never underestimate the value of hard work.
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There is no substitute for the sheer determination to outwork everybody else out there. Behind every great career, brilliant scientist, gifted musician, number one draft pick, first chair, Broadway actor, first place, Hall of Famer, is countless hours of relentless hard work. Nobody wakes up one morning with enough raw talent to make the PGA Tour or fill a concert hall. You must first put in the time.
Do it. Every day. For years. Not just casually, but with intention, and with expert coaching to improve. We are often under the impression that brilliantly talented people are born with their abilities. That is rarely— practically never—the truth.
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, says it takes ten thousand hours to reach the top of your field. Whether it’s starting in Little League baseball to reach the majors, spending time on the violin to one day play with the New York Philharmonic, or putting in hours in the kitchen to wear the prestigious red, white, and blue collar of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.
And it’s not simply putting in the ten thousand hours that puts a person at the top of their field. Gladwell says, “It’s talent plus preparation.” For example, you can run for ten thousand hours, but that won’t make you an Olympic sprinter. Somewhere on the inside you are born with a gift, a talent, an ability that sets you apart. Something that, when you combine it with hard work, you thrive and flourish and excel in.
You might be a gifted writer, or have an eye for fashion, or naturally can find the perfect pitch, or have a knack for organization, or are a born leader ... now go out and do it. Write a million words. Practice for ten thousand hours.
Most of us underestimate the power of small decisions. Everyday you make thousands, 5,000 on average.
The life well lived is filled with thousands of micro decisions that either lead to the good and beautiful Godly life, or, these countless—seemingly harmless—small decisions spiral our lives toward failure, destructive habits and addiction.
We listen to the velvety whisper, "No one will know." "Just this one time." "It won't affect anyone else." "I can quit whenever I want." Addiction is a liar.
The truths is they all matters, all 5,000 decisions you make everyday. Some seem small; parenting, work, the donut or the oatmeal (we make 200 food decisions day), what to wear. But they all matter; to your marriage, to your career, to your children, to your friends, to your life... and to God.
Maybe they matter most because the total of all the countless micro-decisions shape who you actually are. So the question is:
- Are you thriving and flourishing—or are you stuck in rut and tired routine?
- Are you living an adventure—or have you resigned yourself to the pedestrian?
- Are you doing something new and taking risks—or are you playing it safe and taking out more insurance?
- Are you living the one dream-life God for you and only you—or have you quit dreaming and believing?
If you are not yet living the life you've always dreamed then as you think about what to do next, choose the hard one, the big one, the scary one, the audacious and daring one.
We all have one of two lives we can live. There’s the life you live every day. The life that many times ends up becoming a tired rut, sapping you of every ounce of creative passion. But then there’s the life you dream of living. That’s the second life. For many, it’s the life unlived.
It's time to live your one and very important life the way God seared it on your soul.
The way you live every day matters immensely because it's a picture of your soul. God wants to use your one life now—today—to turn the tided on injustice, end oppression, eradicate extreme poverty, show compassion, teach, embrace all people, feed the hungry, and show the everlasting love of God.
If you are wondering where to begin, start here: what is so valuable, what is so great, so important that you would give your one life to it?
So quit dabbling with your dreams: the part-time efforts, the halfhearted attempts. Don’t just think about what your future might be. Take action. Take risks. Live with passion. Pursue your dream, and don’t quit halfway.
Palmer Chinchen, PhD, was raised in the jungles of Liberia and later returned to Africa, where he taught spiritual development and practical theology at African Bible College in Malawi and Liberia. Palmer is now Lead Pastor of The Grove church in Chandler, Arizona, a young, dynamic, and rapidly growing congregation or more than 1,600 worshipers. Palmer and his church are committed to working tirelessly together to eliminate extreme poverty, eradicate malaria, and end injustice in Africa. His newest book Justice Calling (Howard Books) releases June 14, 2016.
Publication date: June 14, 2016