In the 80s, Tom Petty had a song where he crooned that, “the waiting is the hardest part” of life (actually, what he sang was, “the way-ay-ting is the hardest part”).
I always liked the song, but I think the sentiment is wrong. The hardest part of my life isn’t the waiting … it’s the doing.
There are times when we convince ourselves that simply saying we will do something – or saying we believe something – is all it takes. As if merely uttering the words counts for having accomplished something. The fact is the saying is the easy part. It’s the doing that’s where we typically get tripped up.
I once worked with a man who excelled in setting lofty, numeric goals. “We’re going to sell $25 million worth of products next year. We’re going to attract 10 million people to our website. By next year, we’ll have 500,000 new customers!”
But then, none of those things would happen. All that would occur would be that a new, aggressive goal would take its place. The activity, or what actually happened, didn’t match the passionate words.
I’ve been guilty of this myself when it comes to personal goal-setting. I’m going to read one book a week this year. I’m going to lose 15 pounds in the next three months. I’m going to clear all the stacks of paper and books in my office (I think my wife’s given up hope on this one). These are all things I’ve said I intended to do, but then I didn’t quite make it.
Our actions should also match our words in our walk with Christ. We can say we are a follower of His, but if our actions don’t match what we say we believe, the words are hollow. James 2:17 reminds us that, “… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” I’m reminded of instructor Dr. Del Tackett’s challenge in The Truth Project, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” Because, if you do, then that belief should transform how you behave.
As author/pastor Andy Stanley notes in The Principle of the Path, “Your direction, not your intention, determines your destination.” In the final account, it’s our actions – and how we behave when we engage with others – that matters far more than our best intentions.
As we enter a new year where many of us are contemplating establishing better habits – or following through on best intentions we’ve let slide — what are you going to do to help ensure that what you do matches what you say you’ll do?