Goals, endeavor’s and aspirations…it’s the American way! Growing up, I was that kid that you would see high up in a tree if you went for a walk around the block. I don’t know why, but when you’re a ten year old boy, falling down from a forty-foot tree seems as impossible as a herd of elephants flying through the air. Maybe my lack of fear came simply from my youthful age or maybe I was (am) a little nut’s, nevertheless that’s the kind of kid I was. If it was high, I had to climb it. If it was deep, I had to swim it. If it was dangerous, I had to dive head first into it. I always aimed high in terms of what I was willing to do at that age. I didn’t like to play pick up basketball or football games with kids my size and age, they always had to be bigger and older. And I wasn’t willing to go swimming in any old lake, it had to be one with a waterfall and strong currents under the surface.
There’s something different about us before we reach the age of shaving. There’s something in us that compels us to reach high, go big and take risks! Reaching high, going big and living a life of taking risks is as biblical as any concept in Bible.
Pick a hero, any hero, from Abraham to Daniel, to Peter and you will find this to be true. So why do we scarcely see any Abrahams, Davids or Peters walking around in our social circles? Could it be that when it comes to our goals, endeavor’s and aspirations, we have set the bar too low?
Like a Hawaiian Limbo Dancer, we keep lowering the bar in our attempt to shimmy ourselves over to the other side without hitting it. Bigger, better, stronger, smarter, faster, five words that fit most people’s portfolio of what a goal should resemble. We were created with a search gene within us, compelling us to search out and become the best possible version of us. This search gene also stirs within us an appetite to discover what we were created for, and who we were created by.
When you hear the word, goals or aspirations what initially comes to mind? Do yourself a favor, close your eyes right now, take thirty seconds and honestly answer that question for yourself before you start reading the next sentence. No, seriously do it!
Do you have your honest answer, if so let’s move on. Let’s look at a goal, a bullseye if you will, that Jesus told his followers to aim for. If you ever shot with a bow and arrow, using a recursive bow, you know that the draw weight of the bow determines that power and speed the arrow has behind it. For example, a 40-pound draw will shoot with greater velocity, having more power behind it than a 20-pound draw. The 40-pound bow will be harder to pull back, taking a lot more effort to shoot, but when hitting it’s target, it inflicts a lot more damage, thereby enabling it to take down larger animals. All this to set up the goal that Jesus aspires for us to reach for and to embody. You can find it in the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel. A word of caution, this goal comes with a bow that has a very, very high draw weight, but for those of us willing to pull it back, the payoff is larger than we’ll ever know. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. John 12:24-25 NASB.
A kernel of brown grass, weighing 35 milligrams and reaching a whopping five millimeters in height - a grain of wheat! Is this the picture that came to mind when you had your eyes closed and thought of a goal? Say it ain’t so Jesus, is this your idea of a goal for my life? You want me to have the lofty aspiration of becoming like a grassy grain of wheat? Oh, and it gets even better. He not only wishes to inspire us to reach the heights of grain hood, but dead grain hood at that! Talk about adding insult to injury, like becoming a measly grain of wheat is not enough, He now wants us to be a dead grain of wheat. How could something so weightless, so puny, so dead be good for anything? It seems like a grain of wheat is nothing, less than nothing. And that’s precisely the point!
“Have this same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing.” Phil 2:6-7 NIV. “
Christ emptied himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.” Phil 2:7 NASB.
That is the gold standard, the high bar that Christ sets before us. Nothingness, and emptiness, two cousins of the same family, they are the red bullseye at the center of the target. This bullseye can only be hit with a very heavy, draw weight bow. Not everyone chooses to pick up a bow like this. It is difficult to pull back, requiring much effort and strength. This bow does not love it’s life, but rather hates it’s life. It does not hold on to it’s life, it looses it’s life. But the yield is more than we can ever bargain for. Not only will our lives be transformed, turned up-side down, but the ripple effect on those around us, will be enormous, better than enormous, life-changing!
So let’s go back and be those ten year old kids again who reach high, go big and take risks. Greatness was always the goal, it’s what we were made for. We just need to redefine our definition of greatness.
“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44 NASB
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.