Don't Let Your Big "But" Get in the Way!
As leaders, there are times when we find ourselves in a season of "divine discontent." There can be a variety of reasons, but many times it is because God is calling us to grow and move forward. These moments call for us to stretch beyond our current capacities and routines.
God may be encouraging you to say yes to a "stretch assignment." Stretch goals challenge the status quo. Regular goals may challenge us, but stretch goals seem impossible at first. They require faith and personal risk, with no guarantee of success. They demand bravery.
There are two types of stretch goals: "vertical" and "horizontal." Setting a goal of one hundred percent customer satisfaction, rather than eighty percent, is an example of a vertical stretch because it is pushing the limits of a current activity.
A horizontal stretch goal challenges us to take on different responsibilities, develop new skills or products. Deciding to "write the book" would require a huge horizontal stretch.
What great stretch has God been calling you to? Whatever it is, there are three steps you must follow in order to begin the journey:
1) CREATE A PLAN
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but those steps need to be planned and heading towards a specific outcome. Define the action steps. They should be: Stretching, Attainable and Measurable. "I will research and write one page of my book a day." Action steps should be written that will systematically help attain the goal. They should be: Assigned, Scheduled and Accountable. "I will write from 6am to 8am every day."
2) MANAGE THE MENTAL
When beginning a courageous journey into the unknown, your brain will give you a hundred reasons why this is not a good idea. Our default is to be safe. Here are three thoughts that will surface when attempting something new:
The fear the unknown: How do you go about getting a book finished and published?
The fear failure: What if I write something no one will want to read?
Limiting beliefs: Who am I to think I have something important to say?
The devil will do all he can to discourage and destroy the dream. Choose to listen to the "voice of truth." Speak life to your dreams. If God has birthed this assignment, He will be faithful to help us
through to its completion. You do your part and let God do His!
3) DONT LET YOUR "BUT" GET IN THE WAY
"I have always wanted to write a leadership book but".......It doesn’t matter what comes after the “but,” all that matters is that it is an excuse.
As soon as you use the word “but,” you are giving up control. You’re handing the reins over to whatever your excuse is, whether it’s your age, skill set, or limited time. You fill in the blank with your "but."
"But" is our excuse for saying no to a stretch assignment. If you choose to play it safe then all of those excuses are valid. They are reasons why you can’t accomplish your goals. If you choose to be brave, then replace your "BUT" with the action word "AND".
"I want to write an impactful leadership book AND I am starting today."
"I need to develop my writing skills AND I am taking a writing course."
"I am going to be disciplined AND I am creating a daily writing schedule."
There will always be huge barriers and hurdles that you have to overcome throughout the journey of your stretch assignment. If your desire is strong enough and your plan is good enough, stay the course and you will succeed.
What area of your life could benefit from a stretch assignment? Maybe you want to go from youth pastor to senior pastor or start your own medical missionary outreach. Whatever it is, we leave you with the same words of encouragement that helped Joshua fulfill his "stretch assignment":
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own."