If you watch the news or log onto Facebook, you have probably heard it said by now that nothing is your fault. Anything negative was brought upon you by an outside influence. Once you start the blame game, it’s easy to forget that we all have free will.
Personal responsibility has the potential to turn our nation around. We live with more freedoms than any citizens in the history of the world, which gives us more responsibility in determining our own futures. We have no nobility, no ruling class – each one of us has the potential to become whatever we wish in life.
As free people in a free society, our lives are the sum of the decisions we make. I know many people will disagree with me on that. Most will insist on pointing to one bad thing that happened to them, which they blame for changing their life. In reality, life is the culmination of many small decisions made over a long period of time that shape our lives. When we don’t like who we are, it can be very hard to accept that we are to blame.
Think about where you are at this moment in life and trace it backwards. If you are honest with yourself you will see that your past actions determine where you are today.
The great news is that nothing is permanent. You can change your life by changing the decisions you make on a daily basis.
It is up to you, and only you, to change the behaviors that have caused you to be where you are. When changes are made, the outcome will reflect those changes.
If you try to change everything at the same time you are less likely to change anything in the long run. Zero in on one thing you want to change, and start with that. Take baby steps, all aimed toward the same goal. Successful people know where they want to go, and what it takes to get there.
I see this concept of the importance of the small things in nature. This year I started to learn beekeeping as a beekeeper’s apprentice. We began in the spring with two hives. After a couple of months we got a phone call about some bees swarming at a nearby home, so we went and picked up a third swarm and put it in a hive. One of the three hives flourished and grew strong, but the other two were just getting by. We combined the two weak hives to make one bigger hive.
After the bees worked through the spring, summer and early fall, we checked on their progress. They need to have enough honey to last through the cold Illinois winter, so it would not be unusual if there was not enough extra honey to harvest any the first year of keeping bees.
Each hive is made of wooden boxes called supers and each super has eight frames hung in it. The bees make honeycomb on each frame and fill the honeycombs with honey. When we checked the hives, they had each produced and stored enough honey that there was enough extra to remove one super from each hive.
From the two supers, we ended up extracting 27 pounds of honey, which ended up being over two gallons. Each teaspoon of honey represents a dozen bee’s life of work. That means 18,432 bees devoted their lives to make the 1536 teaspoons of honey we harvested. That is a lot of small steps that add up to a big accomplishment.
My own life began to change when I stopped and thought about my long-term goals. What would be the honey harvest of my life? I used to make snap decisions without thinking. I would go off and do what looked exciting or fun. Once I directed my energy towards a long-term outcome and forgot about the short-term distractions, I began to see real change.
Change is hard. That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes on your goal, not on how you’re feeling at the moment. As Christians, we often quote the verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).” This can be taken out of context to give the impression that life is not hard with God is on our side. The truth is far from that. Paul, when he was writing that, was in prison.
God doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that he won’t give you anything you can’t handle (as Pastor Arol preached so clearly this past Sunday at Minooka Bible in his sermon about Jonah). Life is tough. God promises he will be with us, but he never promises it won’t be hard.
This is not limited to changing yourself, although that is where it all begins. In order to transform the world, you have to transform yourself first.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness..