I share my stories with you in case you’ve experienced something like it. You’re not alone. And we CAN get through this.

A few months after I gave my life to Jesus, people started prophesying over me at various church gatherings. Then after I completed the church membership classes, a few leaders in the church prophesied over me. 

I started collecting these statements and promises, but really had no clue what to do with them. In some ways those words made my life worse. They tortured me. I was destined for something great, and yet I was a cowardly, insecure young man with no sense of direction for my life.

Looking back, it hurts to consider that possibly some of the words received were just plain wrong. Maybe they were for someone else. Maybe they were misinterpreted. But what if the confusion I’ve felt paralyzed by for so long is the result of giving these prophecies the power to shape my life?

What if most of the prophetic words spoken over me were flesh or just in error?What if my life feels so out of sync because I let other people tell me who I am. Instead of telling the world who I am. Or asking Father who he says I am.
What if some of these crucial prophetic words from two decades ago mean nothing because they never confirmed much about my current or past life and therefore should be judged much more critically?

One of the best personal philosophies I have I got from nonbelieving entrepreneurs. And that philosophy is that I don’t have to wait for life to choose me. I can choose life and make it happen. And I really didn’t know that for most of my life.

It’s possible to feel an obligation to seek out, wait for, or work really hard to make prophecies come true. But when there’s a heart disconnect, allowing yourself to be limited by the parameters of a personal prophesy seems destructive. You are who God made you far more than you are what Joe Blow has the maturity and clarity to hear from God about you. 

If the prophecy is in error, it has the potential to weigh us down just as much as other people’s opinions or curses. Trying to live up to the wrong ideal is soul crushing.

I’m tired of confusion and error. I’m tired of floating through life. I’m ready to swim.

It’s one of the worst kept secrets in American culture. While we frown upon obesity and addiction, we often praise workaholics and treat them as the heroes of the 21st Century. 

Workaholism is a vice. It’s an unhealthy imbalance. Yet how many Prime Time tv series focus on a doctor, lawyer, or detective who works late into the night every night, to the detriment of their families? It’s become the most cliche character type in our day. 

Most of us will never be doctors. We’ll never be detectives. And we’ll definitely never be lawyers. But we watch these shows because we live vicariously through the dramatized excitement of their professions. Careers where lives hang in the balance every single day. It makes the mundane workday seem so exciting. You can never phone it in because someone needs surgery or an acquittal.

None of it’s real, of course. Those are our tv lives. Whether we answer phones, write code, take blood samples, or balance accounts, our day to day work is often the stuff that daydreams are formed to escape from. 

There’s a growing number of bored and unchallenged employees who’ve become fans of real-life entrepreneurs. Mythical business heroes like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Mark Zuckerburg. These people rose from the ranks of everyday high school and college students and took big risks that paid off years down the road. And we who are stuck in jobs we don’t like doing work that doesn’t fulfill us look to those people and live vicariously through them. Just like I imagine teenage girls live through the constant tweets and shows and articles on the Kardashians. 

I don’t track the everyday nature of most entrepreneur’s lives, but I know many of them work nonstop from dawn til dusk. They rarely if ever take vacations. They’re driven to arrive at a destination they’ve envisioned. 

I’m not saying don’t learn from them. I’m not even saying don’t emulate them. I just question where the line is. You know… That line where temporary hard work to achieve a major goal blurs over into working long and hard all the time as the definition and destination of one’s life. 

Have you ever waited to be noticed for weeks, months, maybe even years, only it never happened? Maybe it was a promotion at work. Or maybe it was for the cute barista at the coffee shop to finally make eye contact. Or to be invited into a group you’d watched from the outside. Maybe it was a life calling that would break you out of the mold of mediocrity and finally place you where you always knew you belonged.

I remember the faces of dozens of friends and acquaintances in their early 20s who tread water in their minimum wage jobs for years as they waited for God to initiate some sort of revival movement that would sweep them off their feet and make the rest of their humdrum lives unimportant and unnecessary. I was one of those people. If ONLY we pressed into prayer, intercession, and worship with more sincerity and passion, we would surely tip the scales and miracles, prophecy, and physical manifestations of God’s power would roll over the earth like a tide.

Dealing with disappointment

Then it didn’t happen. Then it didn’t happen again. Then it didn’t happen a third time. You get the picture. Something between my expectations and reality didn’t mesh. I was waiting for something that didn’t happen. And it wrecked me. Really wrecked me.

When your expectation of life is to see healings and signs and wonders every day and instead you feel like your prayers are fizzling out before they reach the target, it’s not long before Depression lies at the door, knocking.

What’s Plan B?

The first problem was that I didn’t have a backup plan. I had connected dots in my mind that weren’t connected by God. And in this imagined reality, all commerce essentially would halt and people would walk the streets in an unrestrained atmosphere of glory and majesty. I had read books about the Welsh revival. Azusa street. And more. I don’t know what all these other Christians are waiting for, but I’m willing to be the guy who ushers this back in again. 

The problem with planning on an unrestrained revival is that you’ve made no plans to earn a living. Or develop skills. Or form a family. None of these meager earthly things have been accounted for. So when revival fails to show, guess what? Depression it is!

Are you crazy or eccentric?

There’s a bitter culture shock that comes with realizing that everything you’ve planned on life being about is out of order and that you have wasted valuable time that should have been spent honing skills and practicing presence.

Oftentimes the difference between crazy and eccentric is the degree of wealth and success that result. If you bank your whole life on a risky investment and it pays off, you’re a genius. If it doesn’t, you’re a fool. I felt like a fool.

You never know what the end result will be before you start. The choice to act now comes with all kinds of risk.

  • What if you choose the wrong path?
  • What if you act at the wrong time?
  • What if the right path was going to present itself to you a month from now and you’ll miss it if you get distracted with this now?

The gurus and the ad agencies will tell you to JUST DO IT. And they’re not wrong. But they’re not always right. Sometimes action would be the hasty choice. I think it all depends on what type of person you are, and what your motivation would be to NOT “do”. What do you gain by inaction?

  • Sometimes we wait to hide from pain and risk.
  • Sometimes we wait because we fear our motives.
  • Sometimes we wait because the choice is unclear.
  • Sometimes we wait because we don’t know what we want.

I’ve waited for each and every one of these. But now, as I approach 40, I realize that I could have chosen to GO at every moment and it would all end up okay. In moments of uncertainty, action isn’t the enemy. You can press forward toward a temporary goal with an open heart and a willingness to be course-corrected mid-trip. I think that’s the answer. Bill Leckie used to call it “Ready? Fire. Aim.” It means action and motion and willingness and flexibility. Momentum is often achieved before the destination is visible.

You can’t steer a ship that’s anchored. Steering only takes effect when there is motion.

I just finished a compelling conversation about faith, spirituality, and what to do when one’s discoveries lead us away from the pack. I was taught at one church that people who hang out on the fringe are like wandering sheep, ready to be picked off by the wolves. This safety in the herd mentality seemed logical, so long as the herd is in the right place doing the right thing.

But what if the herd is wrong? What if the herd has been following the tail of the cow in front of their face for so long that it has no accurate sense of direction? The herd does offer some semblance of protection, but the herd may also end up stuck in a pit or running off a cliff. Momentum in numbers is either really good or really bad.

Don’t allow fear to choose your path. If your conscience isn’t clear, but the herd has scared you into compliance, you’re in the wrong place.

They say no man is an island. That may be true. But equally true is that someone has to be the first to discover the island. Maybe it’s you.

But don’t stay on the island by yourself. Bring a friend. Or twenty.

Sometimes we face opportunities that don’t feel like a perfect match. Maybe they require us to be more extroverted than we naturally are. Or they focus on subjects in which we lack expertise. And sometimes they’re just not that interesting.

Sometimes the right choice is to say no to the wrong opportunities. Sometimes the right choice is to say yes to the opportunity because what we really need is to build a history of success and a pattern of facing our fears. Knowing which opportunity it is that confronts us is the real challenge.

I faced this question this year and I labored over the decision for weeks. Truth is, I could see BOTH pros and cons for the opportunity in front of me. Here are some of the benefits to consider:

The Benefits of Saying Yes

  • I am in motion. FINALLY.
  • I am changing my overall approach to life by saying YES.
  • I am developing skills that may open many other doors later.
  • When I win at this opportunity, I will have more confidence for another.

The Benefits of Saying No

  • I don’t take on a burden that kills my quality of life.
  • I develop the muscle of saying no because there are too many options available in life to do them all.
  • I keep my open and available for a better opportunity.
  • I save myself the time wasted heading in the wrong direction.

It’s not always obvious which kind of opportunity you are facing. Sometimes you face options and you can benefit from either choice. But the important thing to note is that you can win if you are aware of the possible pros and cons and you remain flexible. Mental flexibility means you can adapt to new information. It means you are not stuck in a rut of either action or inaction.

Our choices are most largely affected by our intention, our perspective, and our ability to frame the situation within a flexible, adaptable mindset. You can choose an imperfect action because you understand what you have to gain from it, and perhaps inaction has been your greatest fault.

If you’ve never gotten started, doing and doing now is important. Momentum is a skill you can maintain after you choose to fall forward.