Nothing exasperates me more. Nothing will limit your possibilities or slam more doors in your face. It threatens to change the very landscape of our country. I see it most often in young people, but sadly, it increasingly manifests itself in adults. My heart breaks for this epidemic of ignorance that sabotages futures. What is it? “I can’t!” Excuses, negotiations, arguments for one’s own agenda, whining, complaining, selfish motives, pitting oneself against another to gain an advantage, and all other forms of manipulative behaviors.
I’m all fired up about this right now. The men in my life would say I’m hot and spicy! The spark? Teenagers vying for their wants without consideration for the one who will end up left out. A student requesting help while rejecting every suggestion offered. A person searching for a job and being choosey when they don’t have that luxury. Someone who knows nothing but thinks they know everything. A young adult quicker to give up than go the extra mile. Employees who play games on their phones at work instead of asking the boss what else they can do. Cashiers texting between customers.
Young person (and anyone else who wants to set themselves apart), you have an opportunity to be neon in a dessert of mediocrity!!! You weren’t made to blend in with the dirt and tumbleweeds. The rulers of this age are grooming you for a desolate life; God’s desire for you is abundant life through Jesus Christ. He created you for significance!
But there’s a catch. In order to set yourself apart from every other human in your generation, you must first lay a foundation of other-mindedness. Jesus taught this mindset in Mark 9:33-35 when the disciples disputed among themselves about who would be the greatest. His answer in verse thirty-five: “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” It’s a biblical truth and immutable principle: the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Focus on serving others, and He will lift you up. It’s 1 Peter 5:6 in action: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” In other words, make or bring yourself low as compared to others and trust the Lord to exalt or lift you on high according to His perfect plan and His impeccable timing. It’s not going to be easy, but it is worthwhile. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a helper because He knew we would need it, so draw on that power to adopt a can-do attitude based on advancing others; a way of thinking that will elevate you above your competition when applying for college, internships, jobs, and other opportunities. Now is the time to develop the values and character traits that will help you attain greatness later.
From a mom, a former public relations executive, a former direct marketing sales director, a co-op teacher, a home schooling parent, an author, writer, business owner, and employer, here are my ten fool proof steps to becoming unforgettable:
1. Eradicate “I can’t” from your vocabulary. Whether attempting a first, pushing harder, facing the impossible, or otherwise stretching beyond your comfort zone, think of reasons you can rather than reasons you can’t. Ask for help, and then do what they tell you to do without whining, excuses, or complaining. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).
2. Give up excuses. Take responsible for your part, choices, actions, and shortcomings. Even if you have a legitimate reason, don’t let it become an excuse. It will only hold you back and get in your way. Don’t blame or point the finger at someone else, and forget about what the other guy is or isn’t doing. Just focus on you!
3. Look for ways around obstacles. If something isn’t working, try something else. If you need help, ask. If no one is readily available, go find someone else or wait until someone is available.
4. Be willing and ready to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain. You might lose sleep, money, advantage, pleasures, or what you want now to gain something greater later, but your extended vision will enable you to escape the trap of instant gratification, a favorite diversion of the devil.
5. Look for ways to go the extra mile. Work hard at school and your job. Leave your phone in the car, a locker, or somewhere else where it can’t be a distraction. Look for extra ways you can help wherever you are. Don’t accept average. Use God’s word as your gauge and strive for His standards.
6. If you’re looking for a job, seek your top choices, but be willing to work anywhere. When you’re eager to do anything, you’ll be amazed at the doors God will open for you to do what you prefer.
7. Be concerned about what makes others happy. Be the one to compromise and give up what you want. Be the one to lift up the underdog and extend a hand of friendship.
8. Make the things that advance your priority goals your first priority. If you’re saving for college or a car, resist the temptation to have the latest and greatest. Find ways to make money (just make sure it’s honest work). Forego purchases and save. Buy the car, get the job, go to college. Set yourself up to one day have the things you gave up to do what was most important.
9. Show initiative. Brainstorm. Talk to everyone. Be the one to offer ideas. Start your own business.
10. Be professional now to be a professional later. Use the phone, not text. Say “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir.” Look a person in the eye. Speak with confidence and volume. Articulate your words. Shake a strong hand. Role-play with your parents or other adults. Talk to people who do what you think you want to do. Ask them what you can do now to position yourself for success later.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing I have said is worth a cent without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. You might as well dismiss it all as self-help psycho-babble. Without God’s grace to turn us to Christ and Christ-like virtues, all we know is selfishness and vain conceit. Can-do living requires sacrifice – giving up our own understanding and agenda to make sure someone else gets what they want, achieve something we don’t know how to do, or make someone else feel loved, appreciated, or special.
Will you stand out or will you join the rest of a generation being indoctrinated for mediocrity and entitlements? Choose life, and have it abundantly! The life Jesus promises those who are His. Are you? Is the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart to put your faith in Jesus as your Savior? Is He tugging on your heart to obey your Savior by living your life according to His word? Do it!
Lord, give grace to each and every person reading this today. Move on their hearts to become more wholly Yours today.