What Must I Do to Get There?

Life in Christ is a continuous call to action. Last week I asked you to think about what your call to action is. And it’s important to remember that you may have to respond to many “smaller” calls in order to fulfill the broader call to action God has given you. For instance, your broad call to action may be to be a good parent. Smaller calls, then, could be to 1) live by example and 2) make an effort to love your children well. 

The calls are endless and unless your ambitions are clearly understood, you’ll feel the pressure of the world pushing you to your knees, leaving you to believe the lie that you’re ill-equipped and not prepared to accept the responsibility of your unique and individual call to life.

The best definition I’ve heard for story is that it is a sense-making device. One of the reasons people are drawn to stories is because within a story, life seems to be clear. When we hear a story we know exactly who a character is, what they want and what they’re up against. We also know what great thing will happen if the hero succeeds and what tragedy will befall them if they fail. Real life doesn’t quite work that way. Most people wake up every morning not quite sure what needs to be tackled first, what really matters in life, or what the stakes will be if they succeed or fail. Stories, then, present a clear and condensed version of life and for that reason people are drawn to them. It’s true, the human brain is drawn towards clarity and away from clutter.
— Donald Miller

I love how Donald Miller puts it. Our brains are drawn to clarity and away from clutter. I created a timeline of my life, from the first positive and negative memories I have all the way to marrying Julie two months ago. That was the start of my journey into the centre of “my world,” something I referenced in my last blog

That's me as a kid on the right with my brother Chase and sister Lauren.

As I look at my life from 2007 until mid-2013, I honestly struggle to see much. Don’t get me wrong, I did a lot in that time (maybe a little too much). But all I see is one reactive battle after the next. I had very little direction and was caught up in a toxic repetition of behaviors—erratic highs and lows and a fair amount of debris. 

But when I zoom out on the last year of my life, I see clear direction, ambitions that are being pursued daily, goals that are being reached, and an all-round healthy lifestyle (minus the very little exercise). I see a “matured self” that’s learning to embrace structure and discipline. I feel less stressed and experience very little anxiety. Perhaps most importantly, I now have the confidence to step outside the box I (and others) used to keep myself in.

What has changed?

A life in Christ is a continuous call to action, and I don’t think “meeting Jesus” is all it’s going to take. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Of course, I believe a life rooted in Christ is a game-changer, but I think we have to play our parts too. A few weeks ago, I heard one of my favorite pastors say something along the lines of, “Salvation and performance don’t go together... but salvation doesn’t mind effort.” In other words, we need to get off the couch. We need to do something, and we need to give it our best shot. 

What did “getting off the couch” look like for me?

Well, over the course of several weeks, I spent careful time combing my way through these three questions:

1. What roles do you play in life?
Each of us plays many roles in life. Whether brother, sister, friend or athlete, we all wear many hats. Defining the roles in our lives frees us up to 1) move in a direction that’s clear and understandable and 2) make decisions that guide us to our desired destination.

My 5 roles are:

  1. Husband
  2. Advocate for Spreading Stoke
  3. Friend
  4. Mentor
  5. Business Owner

Going out for dinner the night before my wedding with four great friends, Daniel, Stefan, Derek and brother Chase.

2. What are your ambitions in regard to each role?
Once I chose the five most important roles I play in life, I asked myself, “What do I want?” By deciding what I wanted for each role, I defined my ambitions and cleared my heart and mind of clutter and mess. It was as if I could see again.

To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.
— Seneca

My ambition as a husband is to die to my selfish ways. I seek to understand Julie and her heart. I want to be a good listener when she opens up to me. I desire to love her by giving her love in the way she’ll receive it: quality time and acts of service. I want Julie to feel safe and secure with me by providing an environment conducive to vulnerability. I want to provide spiritually, emotionally and physically while receiving all of my strength and drive from the Lord. My desire is to see Julie walk in the fullness of her calling.

3. What must you do to get there?
Knowing what I wanted wasn’t enough... eventually, I’d have to act. (Knowing and acting are two very different things, amen?) So in order for my husband role ambition to come to fruition, I set short-term, attainable goals that would help me walk obediently in that role. My goals were specific and based on action.

  • Plan a date night once a week
  • Cook her a meal
  • Plan a weekend away
  • Buy her something she would love

A view of a wine farm in Franschhoek, a small town north of Cape Town that Julie and I enjoy escaping to.

I’ve found that as I move forward in all of my roles, I face opposition. Fears often flood my mind. “Your’e not equipped enough.” “You’re too young.” “You don’t have the finances.” “Who do you think you are?” 

The lies in my head could’ve crippled my stride, but thankfully, I had clarity. I knew the purpose Christ placed on my life and was able to speak the truth of the Bible over myself. The truth is: I am equipped by Christ to do anything I set my heart on—as long as I’m being obedient to Him. My age doesn’t matter. He has provided for me in the past, and He isn’t about to stop.

If you haven’t already, write down your five most important roles and the ambitions, goals, fears and truths associated with them. This can be a lengthy and sometimes painful process, but take it from me, the payoff is worth it all.

Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.

Tony