John Wooden said, “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
This is such a profound and helpful piece of advise. So often we won’t explore, try or offer because of something we “can’t do”. We say things like:
I can’t get my church to endorse me.
I can’t get certified in this field.
I can’t afford to build my own retreat center.
I can’t get a publisher to take my book.
I can’t draw a large audience.
I can’t make a living doing this.
I can’t get into “that circle.”
By this, I don’t mean giving up your desires because they are difficult and will take time to fully develop and doing something that’s immediate and useful. We’ve all heard statements like, “that’s a nice idea, but that’s probably not going to happen so why don’t you focus on your work and family and helping out at church.”
By this, I do mean there is something very powerful, glorious, weighty that you have to offer to others that’s not dependent on the economy, education or endorsements.
So often we define the effect that we desire to have by the way we’ve seen or experienced it.
We’ve been deeply moved by a teacher, author, counselor, pastor, speaker or a particular place and are compelled to bring the same effect to others. We mistakenly assume that we are to do the same thing in the same way. After all, large audiences and book sales, and beautiful proprieties can be quite enticing possibilities.
But, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide.” Trying to be someone else, no matter how admirable they are, will only lead to disillusionment – for ourself and others. Living a life of imitation will ultimately teach others to be someone other than who they are.
The real issue is that we offer “the good stored up in [our] heart” (Luke 6:45) where and when it’s needed through whatever means are presently available.
Instead of waiting to gather hundreds, talk with that one person you’ve noticed is struggling. Instead of reserving your thoughts for a publishing deal, offer it to others now through weekly blogs. Instead of holding back your desire to encourage and strengthen couples until you can buy a lodge property, invite them to stay at your house for a weekend. Instead of insisting that your church endorse you as one of their leaders / ministers, offer your understanding of God to others as a fellow journeyer.
So, don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Offer what God has given and developed in you with humility, gentleness and patience (Eph. 4:1,2) as He reveals a need for it. As we read in James 4:17 “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Emerson
Together, let us offer to the world what God has put within us.