The older I get, the more I realize that I’m a creature of habit. I’m fast becoming the kind of person that I said I never would become. I remember (vaguely) being young, naïve, and under the impression that I knew it all. I had energy, ideas, and the courage to take chances.
Isn’t it funny how a few decades can change a person’s perspective on life? As time marches on, there is a temptation to become locked into the easy, the safe, and the convenient. Innovation gives way to efficiency. Bold steps are replaced by cautious ones. Stepping out turns into sitting still. And unless a person purposely pushes forward, they settle into a life of routine and monotony.
In his excellent book “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge,” Pastor Mark Batterson poses three simple but important questions that can serve to break the cycle of living life on autopilot. Here are his questions:
1. Are you open to change?
Think about your life as a road. What’s at the end of your road? If nothing changed the trajectory of your life from your current direction, how would your life end? If you are unsure or unhappy with your answer, then something needs to change in order to bring about a different destination.
But there’s a problem with change. It means thoughts, actions, and/or attitudes must be different. You can’t keep doing the same things in life and expect your outcome to be different. When do people finally change? When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of doing something different. Are you willing to do something different in order to change the direction of your life?
2. Do you have a teachable spirit?
One of the greatest lessons that middle age teaches is that we’re not quite as smart as we think we are. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson that some people fail to learn. People who think they know all the answers are doomed to a frustrating life, because they refuse the help they need. Pride has a way of causing us to misinterpret the instruction of others. Instead of hearing an offer for help, we hear insinuations of being dumb or slow. If we’re going to change the pathway of our life, we must gain wisdom and knowledge that we don’t yet possess, and unless we’re teachable, we’re doomed to the same old life.
3. Are you hungry to learn?
I had dinner with some old friends recently, and I asked how my friend’s elderly parents were getting along. I learned that my friend’s dad (who is retired) is enrolled in geology classes at the local community college. He was interested in learning how to synthesize and understand the different geological time periods. The guy is pushing 80. That’s a hunger to learn.
We only have one life, and what a shame it would be to live into middle age and settle for the simple, the easy, and the mundane. Time passes so quickly, and if we take no opportunity to survey how we’re living our life, before we know it we’ve settled for less than the best.
Don’t settle. Make a change. Learn something new. Make your life count.