Says many a motivational poster. We’ve heard phrases like “planning ahead” and “looking at the big picture.” Books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People say, “Begin with the End in Mind.” And even in the bible:
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
“Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
When people ask why I’m so driven to attend writer’s conferences, publish books, and wake up at 5am by choice at such a young age, I tell them I only have a few decades to live. My time here is limited, so I have to make it count.
Yet… I often wonder if these phrases and verses have a deeper meaning. Usually, I interpret it like this:
Make sure you have enough savings. Apply yourself in competition. Graduate. Get a job. After all, foolish people are poor, lazy, high school dropouts, and unemployed.
After we have our maps laid out before us and our checklists ready, we’ve decided that we’re going to make the most of our lives. Our lives will matter.
But that’s just it. We’re looking at our lifetime, when really our life is just the beginning, and we have an eternity ahead of us. We get so wrapped up in pursuing our goals and dreams, sometimes we not only forget God’s goals and dreams for us, but we forget about the little things: relationships.
It’s cruelly ironic, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I feel accomplished after a day of school, work, editing, and exercising, when I have my daily accomplishments checked off in neat rows, yet a day spent doing nothing but hanging out with my family is often… lacking. I say relationships are small, when really there’s nothing more important.
After you die, the only way you’ll have left an impact on the world behind you is if you’ve had relationships with others. The only way you’ll look forward to the world ahead of you is if you’ve built a relationship with God. In looking at the big picture of our life, we often forget to look at the big picture of eternity.
Here’s an easy way to see if you’re more life-oriented or eternity-oriented. Who do you hang out with? What people do you tend to gravitate towards and why?
While I was attending the Speak Up Conference in Michigan, I noticed I’d get excited at the thought of having good relationships and rapport with the faculty and teachers. I constantly had to remind myself that each relationship I built during that conference was just as important as any other. I kept on looking at my goals and who could best benefit me rather than God’s goals and what would have an impact not just in my lifetime but beyond.
I’d like to be a best-selling author. I want to inspire people to reach higher, dream bigger, and shine brighter. I want to build relationships with people through my writing and speaking to help change their lives.
My entire career is based on relationships, yet I often forget the current relationships with my family and friends are every bit as important as future relationships with fans, interviewers, and famous authors.
In the end, here’s what the big picture actually looks like:
Remember: You don’t just have your whole life ahead of you; you have a whole eternity ahead of you. Make it count.
Have you ever been tempted to place your goals above relationships? Have you ever forgotten what the big picture really is?