Several years ago someone gave AJ and I a check for $20,000. Out of the blue and just like that - a check in the mail - for TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!
The most common response we'd receive when we would tell that story would be, "Man wouldn't it be awesome to be able to do that!"¹. As AJ and I got to know the people who gave us that check we realized something about them: the check they gave to us wasn't the first time they gave away money. They had built up a long history of giving. Often, we think that we have to wait for something before we can do something. But the truth is, if you haven’t started practicing giving what you have now, once you get $20,000 you’re unlikely to be very good at giving it away! Jesus taught about this principle several times in the gospels (see Matthew 25 for a great example) but in Matthew 13.12 he said this:
“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
Put simply, if you do something with what you already have, then you’ll be given the opportunity to do more. However, if you only wish that you could do something, but don’t ever get around to it, that which you could do today, is taken from you. I think it was Banning Liebscher who said that the difference between the people who are doing things and the people who aren’t, is simple. He said, "The people who are doing things are the people who are doing things and the people who are only dreaming about doing things are the people who are only dreaming about doing things".
My friends are good at giving. But long ago, they started giving what they had and as they did, much more was given to them. They didn’t wait until they had large amounts to give. They started with what they had. And they kept giving. And guess what? More was given to them! But the people who dream about how awesome it would be to give away lots of money are sometimes those who haven't started giving the little they do have. Remember, as with anything, you are practicing a skill you want to develop.
Most of us are like that in other areas. How many of you out there, like me, spend time looking for new ways to help you achieve a task when you actually have what you need to get started right now? I’ve done that with software and computer equipment. I’ve spent countless hours reviewing websites to see what I could upgrade to, imagining how much better my music, videos and photos would be if only I had that new software or new camera. While all the time I’m not using what I do have to get the job done. It's like procrastination via imagined consumerism!
But you know what? There’s some truth to the upgrade wishing. You will be able to chop food faster with that $200 Wüsthof knife. You will be able to produce that killer track with Logic Pro or Pro Tools and you will be better organized with a Pedaltrain Pro fitted out with a nice Bradshaw rig. But not having any of those things won't stop you from cooking food, writing songs or creating amazing sounds with what you have now. The sad part however, is that too often we let it stop us.
There’s a temptation to be like that in our walk with God too. I remember meeting one guy who thought God had told him he was called to pastor a mega church yet he didn't want to run a cell group. He was so busy waiting for the big stuff that he didn't want to start with the small stuff. I like to remind myself that John Arnott’s first step into ministry was children's church! The man now leads an international revival yet he started teaching Sunday school. We often hear of incredible testimonies of people getting healed and think “Man I'd love to be able to do that!”. However while we are dreaming of those opportunities we don’t step into the the ones right in front of us. We outsource the future to dreams because we don't want to practice the present.
That’s part of the reason I am writing this blog. I want to write a book, but I know very little about writing. I’ve spent years developing a teaching gift and so am a competent public speaker but have little to no experience writing. And so I could sit and think (which I have done!), “Man wouldn’t it be awesome to write a book!” and I could research writing tools and download software and study books about writing. But knowing me, years would pass and nothing would get started. So I decided to take some of my own advice.
I think that it’s safe to say that nowadays there is nothing stopping you from achieving what you want to achieve creatively. All the music we enjoy, the books we read, or the movies we watch can be created with most of the tools that appear on a new laptop. Before, you needed expensive studio time and a record deal but now, you can fire up GarageBand and sell your own music on iTunes within a few days². Do you think Jane Austin had the latest copy of Word to write her revisions? You could literally start writing a novel today and then self publish it on the world’s largest book store within a week. You could write your own script, record your own song, film your own movie or produce your own album with technology available today that was only within reach of large studios ten years ago.
So what about you? What are you delaying until tomorrow that you could be starting today? What are you mentally pushing off because you want better tools, or more time, or more experience before you start? Why not start small, grow big and enjoy the ride. Two thirds of God’s name is a doing word - "Go". Why not practice the now?
- It says a lot about the quality of people we are friends with that the most common response we didn’t hear was, “Why does that never happen to me?”
- Sure, you still need talent, but the stumbling block of getting your talent to production is vastly reduced.
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