There was a television show that premiered June 19, 1952 and ran until April 3,1967 called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Many of you were not even born while that show was running. I watched it regularly when in high school
Here’s the way it worked: A well-known celeb would come on and sit before a panel of other well-known celebs and the panel would try to guess the “Secret” that the guest had. It was usually something that was unusual, amazing, embarrassing, or humorous about that person. The guest would whisper their secret to the MC and the secret would be seen on the TV screen for the folks watching and then the guessing game would begin to see if the panel could, through certain permitted questions, discover what the guest’s secret was.
Well, I also have a secret—actually, I have six secrets!
Let me explain.
I will be 80 in December of this year. As I travel, coach and teach, I often hear: Wow! Almost 80 and still going hard after it! How do you do it? What’s your secret? You have such amazing energy, are in excellent health, have drive, goals, dreams, and an exciting vision for the future in your heart.
Many people your age are kind of through…retired, sitting in a recliner in front of the TV, sailing around the world on cruises, playing endless rounds of golf, or pushing their walkers around the “Sunny Hills” retirement home. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against TV, cruises or golf. I honestly don’t relish the idea of pushing a walker around any retirement home and one day I could possibly be there, but not yet, by His grace!
I often say that I believe that “tired” is a biblical concept, but not “retired.” Change pace? Yes! Slow down a little? Yes! Relax a bit more? Yes! But retire and do almost nothing of any lasting value…just live for myself and my own pleasure? No! When someone is in his/her 70s or 80s, it could be the best years of life and a fantastic opportunity to make an incredible contribution to the next generation. That’s what I intend to do as long as He gives me health and vitality.
So, what’s my secret as to how I do it–my six secrets, that is? Well, you won’t have to guess as they did on the TV show. I’m going to tell you right now.
Here is the one verse that sets the stage for my secrets:
“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It wasGod giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (The Message) Emphasis mine
Paul, working harder than most, attributing it all to God’s grace and generosity in his life and sincerely believing that God was both leading him and empowering him in everything he was doing.
1. Practicing long obedience in the same direction
D. A. Carson refers to what he calls “Grace-Driven Effort.” This at the heart of what motivates me. It is something the Lord led me to years ago: to pray for the ability to immediately respond to whatever he shows me and to do this for a long, long time. Eugene Peterson wrote a book: “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” That’s it in a nutshell: consistency over the long haul. I have been, by his grace, consistent with a handful of good habits and practices for over 50 years.
2. Bathing daily in God’s word
One of my consistent habits is spending time daily in God’s Word. I want to practice Colossians 3:16, where we are told to: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I believe it is basking and bathing in God’s word through hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating that enables me to minister to others out of the gifting he has granted me. Either God’s word will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from God’s word. I prefer the former. His word reminds me of the gospel, of his grace, of his power and of his desires for me.
3. Being available to God whenever and wherever
Many years ago I heard a message on Isaiah 6:8: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, here I am! Send me.” I told God I was willing to do anything or go anywhere for him. That set the stage for lots of exciting experiences and opportunities that are still happening to this day. The greatest ability is availability! I believe this with all my heart.
4. Believing that God loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things
As I read my Bible, it seems clear to me that it’s a story of unlikely and, at times, unprepared and unsuspecting ordinary people doing unusual and spectacular things as they trust God and walk with him. I am childish and naïve enough to believe that God can use me, and will use me, beyond my education, personality and gifting. He is God and can use whom he wants, when he wants and where he wants. I rest and take great delight in this liberating truth.
A.W. Tozer wrote:
“Anything God has ever done at any time he can do now.
Anything God has ever done anywhere he can do here.
Anything God has ever done for anyone, he can do for you.”
This is pasted in the front of my prayer book and I think about it and pray about it most every day, as I ask for courage and boldness to live in light of these truths.
5. Being very clear about my purpose, calling and vision
I am a leader-developer. My dream and vision is to help equip and empower as many of the next generation of leaders as I can before he takes me home. I do this through coaching, writing (as I’m doing right now) and teaching through seminars based on my two books, “Leaders Who Last” and “Mistakes Leaders Make.”
I have lots of passages of scripture the Lord has given me through the years that I have committed to memory and pray over regularly. These help me remember who I am in him, what he has gifted, called and is leading me to do, and to be constantly reminded of what he wants to do through me. I am a man on a mission and it gives me energy and focus to know what that mission is and stay on task with it. No rabbit trails, please!
Here are just a few my motivational passages of scripture: Matthew 9:36-38; 2 Timothy 4:7,8, Joshua 13:1; Psalm 71:18; Colossians 4:17
6. Being a life-long learner
I, with his grace, decided a long time ago that I would keep learning, growing, changing and becoming more like him until I breathe my last breath. I love Colossians 1:6 in The Message: “From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more.”
I’m still hungry for more: More love for him and others, more intimacy with him, more power, more wisdom and more energy. I read, write, think and learn constantly. This habit keeps me fresh, vibrant and open to what he has for me. I don’t want to fall into what the late Dallas Seminary professor, Howard Hendricks, called, “Hardening of the categories.”
Yes, I have a secret…six secrets, actually. What are your “secrets?” What is enabling you to walk and work well so that you can finish well?