PAUL TOTHILL

The Starting Line

March 23, 2019

Every life decision towards our purpose in life has a starting line. That starting line will mean us facing the fears or doubts that attempt to keep us out of our future and the personal fulfilment we all long to realise. In many ways our starting line is our battle line. If we don't present there, we have already lost. So I want to encourage you. Run to your starting line, prepare yourself to win the battle over fear and doubt and be ready to step into action to take hold of your future.

 

I had a 'friend' visit me over the weekend, well, for four days to be precise. I did not really know him. He was a friend of a friend so he carried my other friend's credibility into our connection.  What an intense time of quickly getting to know someone and going "deep" - really connecting and discussing things we normally keep safely tucked away from the outside world.  A good degustation will do that! As we asked questions about each other's life, our experiences and our training and education I felt his passion in what he wanted to achieve through his life to impact the lives of others. The connection could not have come at a better time! Iron really does sharpen iron!

 

Through the visit, I came to understand that relationships cannot be left to chance. However, they do take intentionality and skill. Relationships can provide the impetus and produce the conversations we need to take the next step towards the starting line of unlocking the potential that we all carry in us and activating the dreams that simply circle in our thoughts.

 

The time spent with my friend challenged me into action. As he repeated more than once, "Execution is everything." That was most certainly a phrase I was familiar with but had dropped from my thinking in more recent years. It is so easy to validate not doing something. I had been sitting on a series of ideas and thoughts, a vision if you will, about how I could reach people and create some kind of connection that may encourage them in a positive way to unlock the hidden potential in them.  Like my friend's passion, I wanted to transform their lives into something fulfilling and meaningful. Perhaps rather boldly, to suggest that we do not have to rehearse the emotional language of impotency in our lives. We could actually live daringly. Courageously and intentionally. 

 

For years people have been saying, "Are you writing?". "You need to write a book about that." To be candid, despite years of research, practice and learning from my mistakes, which I still tend to make with a continual desire to learn, I was not sure. Doubt verging on fear had set in. Was I yet living my message sufficiently to carry its validity? Instead of looking at the successes I was concentrating on the failures or the set backs. I thought to myself that I would just be another voice, at best an echo. Yet I wanted to be a contributor. I wanted to add to the conversation that might empower others in their own life. The point is I needed to do something about it. It was my responsibility. Not someone else's.

 

My friend let me understand that I had a unique way of seeing things, of joining the dots and "re-languaging" (my invented word) things into a post-modern context that from his perspective as an international speaker was rather unique and empowering. I had never seen myself in that way. I just thought "everyone thinks like me" - therefore I don't really have too much to offer. Then I would doubt myself through peer pressure that maybe I am the one not "getting it" and my way of seeing the world and life situations was "off". I just needed to fit into everyone else's normal and their expectation of me that suited them.

 

My new friend showed me my normal was not normal- it was fresh, new, and challenging with the potential to cast new light on old subjects, to bring a conversation into new language from a new angle or perspective of my training and experience that just may well help people find transforming ideas for their life. I had something to say and a story to tell that just may benefit others in living more powerfully into this world. Then I realised our conversation was not just for me. It was for all of us!

 

How many times do we listen to the voice of doubt and our critics more than the voices of encouragement and hope that release us into the first step of the practical outworking of our dreams - the very things that inspire us so that we can be an inspiration to others.

 

Listening to my friend's perspective changed everything for me. This person barely knew me, but through connection and strategic questions he tapped in to something I had "tapped out" of. I realised we all have been given significant potential to do what is meaningful to us that will benefit others. Our life experience prepares us each step of the way in ways we have not really considered. We all have a purpose to fulfil.  For so many of us we are unduly preoccupied with what is not meaningful to us because we have not paused long enough to ask why we are doing something and what is meaningful to us. 

 

A GENERATION IS ASKING WHY

 

I find it ironic that the past few generations have been asking our generation the very question of why we do what we do. Not out of rebellion but genuine inquiry. They are searching for meaning and for purpose to their lives. Sadly many of us can't give an answer. 

 

I believe that everyone has meaning and purpose attached to their life. 

More people are increasingly searching for what they were born to give expression to. Research has shown us that meaningfulness and happiness are connected. I think we can agree, we want our life to have meaning and to be meaningful. A meaningful life produces a happy life. Not only does everyone want to be valued and valuable.  They want to do what is meaningful. Value or self worth and meaning work together. 

 

Often times it takes a defining moment in our life, a conflict, a disappointment or in some cases a complete meltdown, as so many authors have attested to, before we start asking ourselves important life questions. As Simon Sinek teaches, we need to know our why.

 

WE ALL WANT TO LIVE FULFILLED

 

Like everyone else, I also want my life to be meaningful.  I want to use the skills and life experience that I have developed through my life time, not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others too. I am sure I am not alone. Whilst at times we can give of ourselves sacrificially, sacrifice without purpose seems counter-intuitive. Not even Jesus did that! Like others I want to be part of a bigger story, part of an action plan that must include others who are like-minded and equally motivated so that together we can accomplish something not one person alone can achieve. I am bigger when I am connected to others. Don't get me wrong. Personal endeavour and accomplishment is necessary. It becomes the activation point and inspiration for others. Just like my friend's life has been for me. The bigger question is how do we as individuals activate others to get to the starting line?

 

If we don't present to the starting line we have already lost. That is where many of us fall apart. We dream, we envision, we contemplate but then we procrastinate. To use a sporting metaphor, we never get out of the "practice nets" or the "change room". We never face any opposition. We dream but we are not "in the game". We allow all the reasons why we can't do something to become bigger than the dream and the potential fulfilment stirring in us.

 

Ancient wisdom tells a story about this reality in every generation. When the nation of Israel was to spy out the land that God had given them, ten of the twelve leaders saw the problems bigger than the promises even when they were holding the promises in their hands!

 

The moment of action is in the decision to front up and make the choice to pursue your purpose, seeing the future bigger than the present obstacles you need to overcome.

 

THE BATTLE LINE AND FULFILMENT OF PURPOSE

 

There is always something you need to overcome to step into your life purpose and fulfilment. Ancient wisdom also tells a story about a future King- a young shepherd boy, who took on a brute of a man and who was in every way physically stronger and more powerful than himself. This giant of a man had taunted not just the present King but also his people and their future. Some one had to have the courage to get to the line of conflict to bring prophetic fulfilment to a nation.

 

The ancient story is well known to every child who ever attended Sunday School. The future king was told to follow the orders of his father. He served him faithfully. He did not live with any sense of entitlement even though he was anointed as a future King. He was not presumptuous in any way. As he was delivering the bread and the cheese to his older superior-looking brothers who were part of the present King's army he was being repositioned to be a future King and his battle line would be his starting line in ways he did not yet conceive or understand. There are times in life to be faithful with what you have been given. Then there are times that faithfulness repositions you for your next phase of life.

 

So often our history positions us for our future in ways we do not recognise. Every battle has a life purpose and can teach us things about ourselves as we are prepared for the future. To seize that opportunity, to unlock what he was designed to carry and reveal to the world around him, the young future King needed to overcome the comments of his half brothers. Often those closest to you can see your potential because of familiarity. They resented him and thought he was being self-promoting by even being where the conflict was happening. Sometimes the biggest obstacles to your future are the voices of your own family that you have grown up with. The future-King pressed past the comments and saw an opportunity that caused him to draw on all of his previous experience as a shepherd boy but now in a new way and on a new stage as a future King. 

 

The thing that the future King did that no one else was willing to do was run to the conflict - the battle line to face the giant that opposed them. Not one of his brothers or the present King were willing to do that, Not one.  To do so took courage and a kind of self-belief built on previous life experiences and previous battles won when no one was watching. It also took a strategy. A wisdom that dismantled his opponents brute strength and power of his intimidating presence. It takes very little strength but extreme accuracy to fell a more powerful opponent with a strategically placed show of force. The future King destroyed the man that intimidated a nation on his own terms. He changed the opponent's narrative to his narrative and positioned himself for strategic success. We must learn to pursue our purpose on our own terms with strategic endeavour. .

 

Something greater than fear or doubt was burning inside of the future King's heart. I believe it was a resolve and a determination holding to a trust of his very purpose for life. He was not yet King, and as a future King, the God who anointed him and purposed him to be the future King, the God he worshipped, the God who empowered him in the private battles would be the same God who would be with him in the battle for a nation's future. As a future King he was presented with an opportunity to think and act like a present king. He acted in the present in the way he wanted to become in the future! You see we all must start somewhere. Even Yoda started with a library card!

 

The future King did not trust in the ability of who opposed him by listening to his taunting words designed to produce fear. He trusted in the ability of the anointing that was upon him and what was stirring within him- he had a purpose as a future King to destroy an enemy that would oppose his future and the future of those he would one day become king before. This would turn out to be the greatest moment that showed himself to be the very king he was called to be. Staying behind the lines was no longer an option in the future King's mind- he needed above all to present to the battle line that would start his future as a king well before he was recognised and commissioned as one.

 

WHAT OR WHO IS ACTIVATING YOU TO SEE YOUR LIFE PURPOSE AND FULFILMENT

 

For many of us we need that friend, that person, that comment, that sense of belief, even a conflict or a crisis to activate what is in us. To bring us to a place of seeing what is in us is greater than what stands before us.  If we want to reach our purpose in life and the fulfilment that follows we are going to need to present at the starting line and be willing to overcome the very thing that stands in the way of realising the purpose or our why that is in us. King David did and he slayed the giant that stood between Israel and their future. When he ran to the battle line he ran into his purpose and took a step towards life fulfilment. 

 

In many ways it seems we have many giants that we need to slay to come into the fullness of our potential. Yet every battle, every life event of overcoming is built from the previous experience, the lessons and victories of previous battles.  Even in temporary defeat we learn and grow. We use every experience as a learning lesson, shaping us for the life we know we want to live. In every moment of every day we must be willing to get to the starting line. Not choosing to front up means our why or life purpose is not yet greater than our fear of realising it. Opportunity to realise our life purpose is mostly revealed in overcoming the very thing that has previously held us back. The execution of opportunity provides motivation and release for those around us.

 

If you read the stories of successful men and women they will tell you the same thing. They will tell you how their temporary failures taught them about their why and the ability to be flexible and to adapt. How many people have been bankrupts before they are successes? Too many to ignore the journey and the lessons they tell us about. Their motivation is their why. Their why keeps taking them to the starting line- the very battle line of overcoming the very thought of failure and the fear that confronts and yells at them just like Goliath did with David in the ancient story above. Even my "friend" had to learn how to front up and make a decision to put action to his dreams that carried his purpose for life. Every day he chooses to action his future not action his fear. His words were a great reminder that we get to choose whether we live a purposeful and fulfilled life or not. It's our responsibility not someone else's. 

 

So I hope as I write into the future we can perhaps engage in a journey together of looking at life and its opportunities a little differently. That somehow my life experience, training and skills, the particular way that I tend to see the world can add to the way in which you see the world so that new possibilities, new angles, new ways of seeing things may unlock something in you. Today as simple as it is, like King David, I stepped up to the battle line and put action to an opportunity. What is the opportunity that is being presented to you today? What is the action you need to take to overcome those things that keep you from the starting line of you living empowered and fulfilled?

 

 

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