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Thursday, February 09, 2012

What Has God Done? What Have You Done?

Recently my business coach asked me to do a simple exercise. She said, "I want you to look back over your year and list the things God did." I took it one step further and listed the things I initiated in 2011 and then I compared the two. You can read my complete lists here, if you're interested. But here's an abbreviation:

What I tried:

  1. Tried to do everything possible to make The Muir House (novel) a success.
  3. Tried several marketing ideas that flopped terribly.
  5. Tried to write a memoir about life with my enigmatic, perplexing, genius father, only to abandon the project in depression.

What God initiated:

  1. People came out of the woodwork to promote my upcoming book Beautiful Battle, a spiritual warfare book for women.
  3. The 700 Club approached me to share my story (and I did!)
  5. I changed my tagline from "Turning Trials to Triumph" to "Live Uncaged."

What I learned:

As I looked back over my lists, I realized how much I'd relied on my own grit and tenacity to make things happen in my career. Note the use of the word "tried." While it's good to have perseverance and smarts and wherewithal, I've learned that most of that is wasted if it's done in our own strength. We can strategize, hire experts, and be extremely proactive, but if we're not spending time consulting God, we'll ultimately end up frustrated and overwhelmed. I veered dangerously close to burnout last year.

Two verses stand out as I look back at 2011:

  • “For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:6-8, NLT).
  • "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it" (Psalm 39:6, NLT).
If we want to be successful in business from a God-standpoint, it's imperative (and mandatory) that we consult God first, and cease all that unfruitful busy rushing. He alone imparts the treasure trove of wisdom. He alone helps us live unhurried, trusting lives.

The first part of the year is typically a time when we re-evaluate last year and anticipate the next year of our growth and business. Why not take a moment and list what you tried to do and what God initiated? Some things to consider:
  • Be thoughtful and prayerful as you make your lists.
  • Ask God to show you where you've been guilty of running things without Him.
  • Remember that not all success are God-started, nor are all failures a result of living in your strength. Yet, still look for patterns.
  • Looking back over what God did, ask yourself, "What kind of person do I want to be this year? Stressed out or dependent?"
The word God keeps hollering to me is "abundance." As I look back over my lists, I realize He's been initiating in my career, but I've still tried to conjure up my own success. May it be that we all approach 2012 with joyful dependence.


Julie Garmon said...

Beautiful, Mary. This one hit home, big time. My word for 2012 is Surrender. Thank you, thank you!

Katie Ganshert said...

I agree with Julie - beautiful. Have you ever read Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby? Anyway, he talks about this. How God needs to be the intitiator. That all things will be burned to test if they were made of grass or metal. The things God initiates are metal. The things we try to accomplish by our own strength will wither and die.

Ane Mulligan said...

Dynamite advice, Mary!

Martha W. Rogers said...

So true, Mary. So many times we cast our cares on Him then try to reel them back in rather then give Him control. The year I turned it all over to God and didn't try to take things back, I received my first contract. I "gave God a year" and made commitments for what I would do and what I prayed for God to do in my life. My word this year is Choose.

Jennifer said...

This post smacked me up side the head. Thank you. I'm breathing again.

Nicole said...

So much truth here, Mary. But I can understand the impetus for doing what you did. This business more or less demands that you put forth plans and execute them. Since a surprising amount of them don't work effectively (and invariably the author is deemed responsible), it's good to hear you revised your plan of action.

Mary DeMuth said...

That's a beautiful word, hard to live.

Mary DeMuth said...

I have read that book a million years ago. Such a great reminder.

Mary DeMuth said...

And you're a dynamite person, Ane. I adore you.

Mary DeMuth said...

Wow, what a great testimony, Martha. Have you written about this? Would make a great blog post.

Mary DeMuth said...

Sorry to smack you. I'm normally not violent like that.

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks Nicole. While I wouldn't advocate sloth, I also realize that try-try-trying in my own strength only accomplishes frustration.

Janice C Johnson said...

"cast our cares..." and then "reel them back in..."
Bahahahahaha!That is very, very well put.

I'm taking Mary's post, and your comment, to heart!

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Thanks for this Mary. It gave me a big smile. I had planned to earn all sorts of money by now. But God upgraded all my gear : ) Now I have good tools to work with, and I'm mastering how to use it all. I try and check in with Him each day to find the path He has for me. This post reminded me of this verse- "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Prov. 16:9

I've already captured last years' accomplishments but I love the idea of adding a "What God did" section. Very cool!

Mary DeMuth said...

Great verse, Karen.