Keeping Sane and Productive in an Insane World, Principle # 4: Don’t Be Passive. Make Goals; Carry Them out.

Principle #4: Don’t Be Passive. Make Goals; Carry Them out.

When life gets difficult, it’s easy to enter into passive mode. It’s easy to act helpless. Life is just bad, and there is no way out, we might think. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s comforting in its own way. If I can do nothing to change the world, I am relieved of all responsibility.

The problem is that it’s not true. Things can change. Situations can change. Families can change. People can change.

It’s not easy. Changing ourselves and our communities is hard work. That’s why it’s easy to give up. There is resistance.

But there is something that can change things: human activity. We were not made to be passive. We were made to be active. When God created human beings, He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). In other words, don’t be passive with this good world. Make it something better. Be active. Make goals. Carry them out.

God repeated substantially the same thing after the fall of man into sin. It wasn’t just for the unfallen world that God made man to be active. He said that we should do all work like you are doing it for the greatest purpose imaginable, glorifying God. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).

It’s easy to be passive in the face of difficult situations. You may have tried to go to the gym before, but you gave up. So, you think it’s impossible. You may have worked on your relationship with your spouse, and nothing seemed to come of it. So, you stopped working on it. You may have tried to learn to play the piano, and nothing came of it. So, you are confirmed in your passivity.

But there are things you can do. You can keep working at it. You can keep tilling the ground, fertilizing it, and caring for it. In time, a seed will sprout and grow into something beautiful.

Don’t give up because you tried one goal and didn’t succeed. Think of different ways to do it. Here’s an example. You may have wanted to improve your relationship with your child. So, you asked them to sit down and talk to you. They didn’t like it. It didn’t get anywhere.

But you can change your approach to talking to your kids. A friend of mine realized that if he went into the rooms of his children with their permission, they would open up in a way that they would never do in the living room. I have found that to be true as well. It’s a remarkable thing. Make it a goal to go down to your child’s room and talk to them on their turf a couple of times a week. See what happens.

Another friend of mine played guitar in a band. I had recently started working on the guitar, and we had a discussion about it. One thing he said was that I should not have my guitar in a case under my bed. Instead, I should have it out on a stand. That way, I could just grab it. He also said that I should make it my goal to practice a mere five minutes a day. I did all that. I practiced more often and usually for much longer than five minutes a day.

You can apply this to exercise. Don’t make it your goal to go to the gym. Make it your goal to exercise five minutes a day in your house with small weights or calisthenics. You will probably do it longer. Either way, you will start to get used to exercising. This will develop a habit. It will be easier to expand from there.

Whatever you want to do or are concerned about, you have options. You can drop the passivity, get active, and start to make a difference. Even if things don’t turn out how you would like, you will be happy that you did something to make yourself better and learn rather than being a passive spectator.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it encourages you to be active in the face of your problems. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article in the comments below. If you like it, subscribe in the box below or share this article on social media. I hope to see you here again.


Photo by Dave Ruck on Unsplash

The Advantage of Listening More

Listening more can be a scary thing. If you listen more, you may fear that you will not be heard. You may feel that people will walk all over you.

A few weeks ago, I was having similar thoughts. I was seeing some ways that I should listen more, and I had a hard time embracing them. I had similar fears.

But the Bible is clear: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry . . .” (James 1:19).

One thing I noticed about myself was that I often can think about other things when people talk. Sometimes I am planning how the conversation should go. At other times, people say something that evokes an idea that I then want to think about or share.

The thought occurred to me in light of this, what if I stopped doing this? What if I just listened and didn’t worry about where the conversation would go? What if I just focused on what people said and received them passively?

My first thought was that I would lose something of myself. I did fear that I would not be heard or that I would not be able to speak or that I would lose my own thoughts.

In spite of this, I tried it. I just said that I would do my best to only listen and not formulate a response until the person was done speaking. It was an interesting experience.

Here’s what I found. I listened more, and I heard more. I learned more. I laughed more. And, I realized that I would still get to share my ideas. After I listened to people, people were more ready to listen to me. When people felt heard, they were more ready to listen. So, I had no problem sharing my own ideas.

In short, by listening more, I hadn’t lost anything and had gained much.

Besides talking with people, I realized that I often don’t listen to God. When I read the Bible, my mind wanders. The words evoke a thought. I can look at all the words or hear them without listening to them. I can even think of other things while I am reading out loud.

But you know what? Now that I am listening more, I am hearing more.

This is important because there is much more outside me that I need to learn than what I have inside me. Listening is the beginning of wisdom. It is an openness to receiving reality, God, and other people that will enable us to really grow.