By Rick Warren
There is a saying often applied to sporting events that also fits for virtually every other endeavor in everyday living, including the workplace: “It is not how you start, but how you finish.”
When a new initiative begins, such as rollout of an innovative product, an imaginative marketing strategy, or implementation of new technology, we typically experience high levels of enthusiasm. Expectations are lofty and hopes soar in anticipation of promising outcomes.
However, such peaks of energy and excitement are rarely sustained. It is not unusual for people to become disillusioned, discouraged and fatigued about halfway into a difficult challenge, no matter how worthwhile it may be to pursue. Emotions start to subside and the reality sets in about the hard work and drudgery required to bring a project to its conclusion.
At such times it helps to keep matters in proper perspective. When I start to feel the fatigue, I look to passages like Proverbs 25. It serves as a good reminder that my feelings are not a reliable measure of how things are going. For instance, Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “Like an open city with no defenses is the man with no check on his feelings.”
Feelings can soar and feelings can spiral, so we cannot trust in emotions if we are to successfully finish what we have started.
Our feelings come from a variety of sources – past, present and future. But in fact feelings often lie; they are not always a reflection of reality. Not only that, but life is complex and we must often live with mixed feelings: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief” (Proverbs 14:13). Or as someone has said, “Sometimes I laugh to keep from crying.”
People often compare life to a rollercoaster, filled with a combination of hills and valleys, but in actuality, life is more like two rails on a railroad track. One rail represents the good and positive things in your life; the other represents the bad and painful elements of your life.
We need to recognize a simple truth: We will always encounter good and bad at the same time! There will always be something good and something bad happening in your life. We cannot expect everything to be good for one month and then everything to be bad the next month. We will always have a mixture of both, a blending of both bitter and sweet.
Although we cannot segregate the good from bad in our lives, whether at work or at home, we can choose our focus, our attitudes toward events as they occur: “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow” (Romans 12:15).
That is why trust in God is so critical for withstanding the storms of life – as well as the pleasant surprises. As Proverbs 3:5 instructs us, we are to trust wholeheartedly in God and not to put any faith in our own perceptions. Perceptions can ebb and flow like waves on a beach; but God remains faithful and constant.
Until next week!
© 2011, Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved. Adapted from a column by Dr. Rick Warren, the author of numerous books, including the highly acclaimed, The Purpose-Drive Life, which has been translated into many languages and sold throughout the world. It affirms the importance of having a carefully considered, clearly expressed purpose to guide everyday life. It has been named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He also has written The Purpose-Driven Church.