1Glories

Refining Life, on Purpose

Why You Don’t Have it All Together and What You Can Do About it

I don’t have it all together. Drawing on Paul’s letter to the church of Philipi, we can see that that’s okay, because none of us do. It’s how we move forward that matters.

I like to think I have it all together. There are times, though, where I’m completely fractured and anything but all put together. That may be why I am fascinated by stories that have highly flawed people. It keeps me grounded and mindful that I too am highly flawed. It’s more reflective of real life.

Whether hero or villain, whether protagonist or antagonist, all characters have flaws. And, sometimes, it’s even their ultimate undoing. Think of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons – the money-grubbing scoundrel. Or, consider Richard III – the arrogant and pathetic, hunchback who sparks debate over whether he was a tragic hero or a villain. Heck, even the genius guys on The Big Bang Theory can’t focus themselves long enough to fix the elevator in their apartment building (my money says that Penny fixes it in the last episode simply by pressing the button).

You Don’t Have it All Together

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. – Philippians 3:12-14 MSG

This is a wonderful passage. Paul shares this comment to point out that, not only does he feel that he’s not yet done, rather that he is nowhere near being done. It shows us how to properly revere our pasts and in what ways to consider our future years.

Your Past is Over The Moment it’s Over

I am a historian and a sentimental sap. Because of that, I love to learn about and share the achievements of other people to pretty much anyone who will listen. And, I love to look at old photos and remember the emotions of those moments. Meaningful traditions are carried one from my parents and grandparents to my own children.

From time-to-time, though, I have to remind myself that those days might as well be ancient history. Years ago, Ramada Inn used the slogan of “We’re Building a Reputation, Not Resting on One.” I’ve always liked it because it symbolized the pursuit of something more. Of a higher calling and purpose. It also says much about where you have been and where you are going.

All your past achievements and accomplishments are history. Trophies, awards and kudos are yesterday’s news. That may be disheartening to some. However, there is also the good news that your mistakes and failures of the past are also steeped in yesterday.

As Paul reminds us, there’s no turning back.

I don’t have it all together. Drawing on Paul’s letter to the church of Philipi, we can see that that’s okay, because none of us do. It’s how we move forward that matters.

I don’t have it all together. Drawing on Paul’s letter to the church of Philipi, we can see that that’s okay, because none of us do. It’s how we move forward that matters.

Run the Race to Win

So, if our past triumphs and past shortcomings are in the past, where does that leave us? It leaves us in the here and now, hopefully building toward our future. There are many people who often work hard to climb the figurative corporate ladder or other means of position, only to fall into a trap.

It’s often called the “I’ve arrived syndrome.” In college, and sometimes high school, it’s called senior-itis. In the corporate world, it’s the moment when someone has landed the position they have been seeking. They believe it’s now time to sit back, put their feet up and enjoy their spot on “mahogany row.”

Paul, of all people, could have easily felt like he had arrived. He could have said he’d achieved much and it was now time for others to take up the baton, but he didn’t. Instead, Paul told everyone that he was not yet finished with the race. What’s more, he informed everyone that he wasn’t even close to finishing.

High school graduates go on to college or enter the workforce. Once there, they are invited to march onward through another set of milestones to the next key position of life. That might be completing a college degree or entering into management at their jobs. Then, there’s another set of milestones.

Sooner or later, we feel like we know it all. The reality, though, is that we do not and there are others who are quickly learning all that we already know. There may or may not be any place further for you to go in that current trajectory.

There is certainly somewhere you are able to continue the building of that reputation rather than resting upon on.

Aim to Match Your Aim with God’s Aim

In addition to saying he doesn’t have it all together, Paul tells the people at the church of Phillpi that “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.”

It sounds so simple, right. Focus on Jesus, right? In reality, though, knowing Jesus is just the start. As Paul says, he is “off and running.” But he’s not yet there. Knowing God is an intentional and lifelong pursuit. It’s more than merely knowing about God. It is knowing who God is; listening to his word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit reveals it and interprets it. From there, we seek understanding and ways we can adapt it into our lives.

Often, that involves helping others progress through the race and encouraging them to continue pressing on.

In what ways is the Holy Spirit nudging you today and where is he nudging you toward?

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.