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With God We Will Do Valiantly

September 24, 2008

I have been thinking a lot lately about excellence. Not just at work, but in every area of my life — as a Christian, husband, father, friend, church volunteer, Board member, Starbucks customer… Do I truly aspire to excellence in the work I do? In the relationships I have? In every-day interactions with strangers?

I guess this sudden conviction is a result of the convergence of many different coincidental situations, conversations, blogging comments, books and bible readings that ultimately leads one to hear that “still small voice.” Or, in my case it is more like a divine ass-kicking, with God telling me what I should already know by now. Which is a message that says:

“Stop striving. Take a look around at what’s right in front of you, and give it your best. And then trust God for the future outcome.”

That’s actually from a page right out of my journal. I went back to read it a few days after I originally wrote it, and it was like God was punching me in the gut with those words. “Uh, yeah, Bradley – Hello?” Bam!

You probably already know by now that I tend to get caught up in “What’s Next.” The next big exciting deal or promotion or position or recognition. It’s like I can’t function without having some huge ambitious goal looming in the horizon, calling out to me, luring, pulling and compelling me towards some “better” future. It’s like a mental illness, really. I guess I’ve been hard-wired that way for quite a while now, and in many ways it has served me quite well because I got a lot accomplished over the past few years. But I’m getting a little older now, and God is giving me a very distinct message that says “Whoa, boy. Settle down. Deep breath. Good.”

“Now, look.”

Quite literally, just like that. “Look.”

And when I stop, and breathe, and look, what I see is this: my wonderful family that I love so desperately, with a beautiful and intelligent wife and two exceptional teen age girls; a terrific job with great people to be working with; a beautiful church community; many other wonderful friends that I share work with on Boards or committees; and I would even include the interesting and caring group of new friends that I have found online through my Blog and other Blogs and websites discussing this strange concept of living our faith in our careers.

It’s not that I have been ignoring or neglecting all of these relationships up to this point, but I wonder if I’ve been fully present. Have I really, honestly been giving them my best? Have I been excellent? Or, have I been thinking more about what I will get out of this? Or, what will this look like on my resume? Or, am I sitting in that meeting thinking, “What am I going to have for dinner tonight?”

I’m constantly trading up, rather than engaging fully, completely, in the moment.

So, I was reading the Psalms yesterday and I came across a verse that I never quite caught on to before. It somehow capped this message that I was getting from God. It’s the last verses of Psalm 60, verses 11 and 12, and it says:

Give us help from trouble,
         For the help of man is useless.
Through God we will do valiantly.”

That word “valiant” seems like a quaint old 14th century middle-English word that doesn’t really belong in a Blog conversation. Certainly not a word that we use very often today. But it conjures up in my mind thoughts of bravery, courage, victory, boldness… and excellence. So, after reading this, I decided that instead of driving myself mad scheming about the future, I am going to apply myself, fully, valiantly, with God’s help, towards the things that are in front of me right now. Truthfully, this might mean cutting back on some obligations and committees to do only the few things that I can realistically excel at. It may be that I rearrange my priorities at work so that I am focusing on the things that are the highest and best use of my time, talents and abilities. It definitely means that I am giving myself more fully to the people and conversations I am having, with a clear focus on their needs and interests, rather than my own.

I am learning that God is the God of now. He wants me to do the best with what is before me, and trust Him for the future outcome.

Through God, we will do valiantly.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2008 9:28 am

    Thanks for sharing that insightful reverie. Sometimes a particular verse just seems to sum up our current life experience. I had a similar insight when working through a particularly troublesome patch in my career. Ps. 37:3 encouraged me to “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness”.

  2. September 25, 2008 1:12 pm

    Valiant is a quaint term, but I love it. It conjurs images of putting on the armor and going to battle with my head held high!

    We aren’t called to change the whole world, just our ‘world of influence.’

    david
    http://www.redletterbelievers.blogspot.com

  3. September 25, 2008 3:53 pm

    What a great post! I agree with you 100%. Recently I have “had to” give up some really great things in my life so that I could give the most imprortant stuff the attention that they deserve. With that it is amazing to see how God has already started to work in my life since then. I had to dump a bunch fo really good stuff, so that God could work through me to do some really great stuff. But it required me creating a situation in my life where I could give God the room to do that work.

  4. Bob Pivonka permalink
    September 26, 2008 3:24 pm

    Please excuse my presumption at giving advice as a brand new, first time, visitor to your blog. I was referred by a friend because of this article. I am just starting to sift through the wealth of information I am sure I will find.

    Regarding……….”valiantly”, I think your plan is a very good idea and I can relate because I have been there, done that and have been so wonderfully rewarded with the gifts of Peace and Joy.

    The only thing I would encourage you to consider is departing from that part of you that compels you. That “its like a mental illness really” part of you. Change your mind about choosing “the things I can realistically excell at” and ask your Maker, or your wife, or your mentor to help you select something that you consistantly fail at. If you want to see some real miracles in your life try something that requires the grace of God to get it right. Valiantly may have a new meaning and you will undoubtedly learn many new lessons.

    Come on, be brave! Take off your clothes of success and join all of those out there in our world without the wonderful talents you have been given. Know fear and uncertainty and perhaps even know failure. Know that if you truly allow your God to work his wonders in this situation that you too will receive those marvelous gifts of Peace and Joy.

    God bless you on your way,

    bob

  5. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    September 27, 2008 8:27 pm

    Thanks for the good advice, Bob.

    I have known my fair share of failure and fear and uncertainty, and also have seen the grace of God at work during those times. Maybe if I keep this Blog going long enough, we’ll get to some of those stories! (it’s such great spiritual therapy)

    But you’re right – I also have many areas of weakness that I should be working on right now, and I will call upon God to join me as I valiantly step up and deal with them!

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