~ Ray Edwards
Admit it…you’ve slipped away from date night, the kid’s soccer game, or family dinner to steal one more check of your email just in case that urgent inquiry or response arrived.
You know, the one confirming the big order you’ve been waiting on. Or the signed contract. The next steps on the project. The response from your boss, client, or co-worker.
While you’re at it, you quickly flit over to check the stats from your latest email blast to see how many opens or clickthroughs there were to that killer email you sent out yesterday. After all, a lot can change since you last checked. Even if it was just 30 minutes ago.
Who knows, it may have gone viral.
And then there’s that dip into Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter just to see how many hearts, shares, likes, or RTs you’ve received.
That was a killer image and clever post. Who could resist sharing?
It’s like you’re on a one-person crusade and no matter how much you do, it never seems to be enough.
Your worst fear? It will never be enough!
You know what? You’re right.
At least, not as long as you have the mindset, “If it’s to be, it is up to me”.
This is not a description of the purpose-driven life. It’s simply a driven life.
I know. Because it’s the life I live and lead when I’m striving and struggling to finish by human effort that which God birthed and initiated in the spirit (Galatians 3:3).
Symptoms of the Driven Life
Here are a few of the symptoms of the driven life:
- Frustration is high. In spite of all of your pushing, you’re just not making what you feel is adequate progress. At best you’re spinning your wheels and treading water. Or worse, you’re going backward and losing ground. Savings have dwindled, debts are mounting. You’re stuck in a rut.
- Energy is low. It’s very tiring to be always on, always pushing, always engaged. So you self-medicate or most likely self-caffeinate (because “good Christians don’t do drugs”) by persistently pumping coffee or Coke through your body to pick you up and keep you up.
- Anxiety is your most familiar emotion. Peace? You lost that a long time ago. Your mind is always “on.” Always busy running another “what if” scenario. What if this does or doesn’t happen? What’s my contingency plan? What else should I be doing? Who else should I be contacting? Where else should I be looking? Maybe it’s time to give up, go back and get a job.
- Results are your top priority. What if enough people don’t respond? What if they don’t return my call or email? What will you do? What if too many respond, how can you manage the overload.
You have high levels of frustration coupled with low levels of energy multiplied by abundant anxiety and you’re worrying about results. You’re on a collision course with a meltdown, burnout, or worse.
Hmm, interesting isn’t it? Frustration, energy, anxiety, results. Detect any pattern there? What do these add up to? Are you living in FEAR?
And I was growing tired of the driven life, but not quite sure what needed to change or how to go about it.
Solution to the Driven Life
When we’re living a driven life, often we’re going it alone. Working only in our own strength, relying solely on your own resources. Pushing uphill.
Recently, I was reminded of something a rabbi friend taught me regarding the Hebrew understanding of time. Unfortunately, it’s something that we Christians, often miss.
For the Jew, the day begins at sundown, not sunrise. Observant Jews begin every morning with a prayer they utter before getting out of bed in the morning.
The Biblical basis for this prayer is Lamentations 3:22-23.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
This morning prayer, known as the Modeh Ani, recognizes that while we were asleep, God was at work. And as we awake, we join the rhythm God has already established for the day.
As the Psalmist frequently said, Selah! Pause! Let that soak in.
God established a rhythm for your day and for your life.
Rather than striving on your own to jump start your day and make something happen, join the flow of what God is already doing — that which he not only established and ordained, but has already initiated.
This is synergy on steroids!
Synergy comes from the Greek, synergos, and literally means “working together”. In this case working together with God.
Another Selah!God invites us to partner with him in what he is doing; to go with His flow.Click To Tweet
Would you rather be a self-starter — starting from what you have in you and what you can produce by yourself? Or live a synergistic life partnered with God?
Is that really a tough choice? I don’t think so.
Rather than beginning your day in fear, lack, and anxiety — why not begin aware of God’s faithfulness, abundance, and blessing?
Saul’s Other Conversion
If you’re familiar with the Bible, then you know Saul (later known as Paul) had one of the most dramatic conversions recorded in scripture.
When we look in on him in Acts 9 he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples.” He had just obtained arrest warrants granting him authority to hunt down, arrest, and incarcerate any believers he found in the city of Damascus.
Not only was he “lost”, he was driven.
Well, in case you don’t know or you need a refresher, on his way to Damascus he had an encounter with God. You may recall, he was blinded by the light, fell to the ground, and heard the voice of God asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
In that moment, Saul was converted. He went from being the chief persecutor of Christians and the church to being its primary advocate and apostle.
Yet there's another conversion that Paul actually experienced. We get a little more insight on this in Acts 26 when Paul, later in life, was relating his conversion experience to King Agrippa.
In that account of his conversion experience, he added a detail to his conversion experience not recorded in Acts 9. In Acts 26:14, Paul said, “I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”
So what is a goad and what does it mean to kick against one?
Goads were sharp instruments farmers used to prod their oxen to move forward. The more modern analog would be the cattle prod. God had orchestrated situations and circumstances in Saul’s life to move him towards God's purposes and plans for Saul’s life.
Rather than moving towards them. Saul was resisting them. He was kicking against the goads.
Here’s the second “conversion” I see Paul experienced. He went from living a driven life to living a directed life. In many of the epistles, Paul talks about following the leading of the Spirit and how God directs us by his Spirit. Paul was led.
I think that offer still stands for us today.Perhaps success comes not by being driven, but rather by being led.Click To Tweet
It's a choice I was recently reminded of. It is summed up in my new four-word mantra, More Led, Less Driven.
Instead of being always on and believing that “If it’s to be, it’s up to me,” I’ve accepted God’s invitation to daily join in the flow that He has established for my life and work each day.
Like our Jewish brothers and sisters, I’m starting each day with a prayer of acknowledgment.
It’s simple, yet profound.
Good morning God. Thank you that your steadfast love never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning — including this one. Great is your faithfulness. Let me enter into the flow and favor you have already set in motion for today and know the joy of living in synergy with you.
Will you join me?
Whether you see it or not, God is leading you on a pathway. I call it the Higher Purpose Pathway because God has a higher purpose for you, your life, and work. Let me help you gain the clarity and confidence you need to fulfill your higher purpose. Download The 5 Questions You Must Answer to Live Aligned with Your Higher Purpose. Your answers to these questions will help you live a “More Led, Less Driven life”.
Question: Ray likes to challenge readers to experiments. For the next 30 days, will you join in the More Led, Less Driven Life Experiment. Every day for the next 30 days, before you get out of bed, will you pray this prayer or your version of it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.