Here’s part four of chapter two of my book, A Day of Hope. If you missed the first three sections, you can follow the links below.
Picture: What does it look like?
The Whole Enchalida
Honor Your Promises
A BIG COMMITMENT
Now that I’ve totally overwhelmed you with the amount of work done for A Day of Hope, I’m grateful you’re still reading. I believe that shows a lot about your character and commitment to serve people in need.
If the section about how much work we do didn’t scare you off, then this section might. Any section entitled “A Big Commitment” can’t be good! But effectively serving people in need in your community truly is a big commitment.
You’ve probably heard it said, there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant. And my goal with this chapter and the one we just went through is to be totally honest and upfront with you about exactly what it takes to serve people in need in your community. It would be terrible to have you go out and say you’re going to serve people in need and then realize it’s much more work than you thought and not be able to serve people because you don’t have the time. So after this section and the next section (and this book for that matter) you’ll have a better feel for the time that will be needed. There’s no such thing as kinda doing something to help people. As the wise have said, there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant.
Leading A Day of Hope is truly a part time job. To lead A Day of Hope, you’ve got to be committed. You’ll be required to sacrifice your time, energy, friendships, family, and work. All areas of your life are going to be indirectly affected due to the lack of time you’re going to have.
As human beings we all have a normal routine to our lives. We have rhythms that we get into where we feel comfortable and safe. We know we have Bible study on a certain night of the week, staff meetings held at a specific time on a specific day every week, date nights with a significant other every week or month, soccer and baseball practice for our kids that we know we need to attend every week, etc. The list could go on and on. While leading A Day of Hope, you’ll find many of these normal routines and rhythms being disrupted. Why? Because there just isn’t enough time.
I’m a pretty balanced guy (well, most of the time). I attempt to give appropriate amounts of time to God, family, work, personal growth, exercise, and friends. I have priorities that I stick to and work hard to live out daily.
I have four priority activities that I try to do every single day: pray, read, write, and exercise. These take about four hours a day to do, so it’s time consuming—especially since these are on top of the eight hours a day I already work at a “real job.” In the chaos of leading A Day of Hope I find that I can’t quite make or find the time to do all of them. I have to cut a few out by only praying one day, or another day I might only be able to read, or I’ll exercise for an hour knowing that I won’t have time to do any of the others. Over the years, I’ve learned that I simply can’t do them all, work full time, and lead A Day of Hope. If I could survive on about three hours of sleep a night I might be able to pull it off, but that’s just not enough sleep for me. It’s unrealistic for me to try and do everything I want and still lead A Day of Hope successfully.
If your life is already packed and you currently feel like you don’t have enough time in the day, then you will have to think about the increased time A Day of Hope will require of you. Something’s going to have to give. The good news is there’s always something that can give if you really want it to. World renowned life coach, Tony Robbins, often says, “You can always find a way if you’re truly committed.”[i] And if doing A Day of Hope is something that really resonates with you, I know you can find a way to make it happen.
When something “gives” in your life, you’ll find that you don’t quite feel the same. When I allow certain areas of my life to give for A Day of Hope, I don’t feel as centered. For example, when I don’t get to exercise for a few days, my body starts to feel differently. My digestive system slows down, and my energy level lowers. When I don’t get time to pray, I don’t feel quite as connected to God in my faith. I don’t feel like I’m walking with Him as closely as I do normally, and He doesn’t feel right there beside me throughout the day. When I don’t get to read a chapter or two in a book everyday, I start to feel empty. When I read it’s my time to rejuvenate and recharge with some fresh ideas and ways to help people.
To give you a feel for my life during October and November when we are really gearing up for our project, here’s a real life example of what my calendar looks like on a typical day.
Thursday, October 15th
4:00 AM – Wake up and pray for 90 minutes
5:30 AM – Start getting ready for day, shower, shave, pack lunch
6:30 AM – Leave to go to Business Networking International (BNI) business meeting
7:00 AM – Work at my “real job” at United Way
5:00 PM – Start calling possible car wash volunteers for A Day of Hope’s fundraiser car wash on Saturday
7:00 PM – Leadership training at Church for a Bible study I lead
9:15 PM – At home and time to check emails, Facebook, etc. for people who might have contacted me about helping
9:45 PM – Email a few more potential volunteers to recruit for car wash
10:30 PM – Brush teeth, get ready for bed
In addition to having to adjust your personal schedule and calendar, you’re also going to have to adjust the amount of time you spend with friends and family. Your friends and family will have to know and realize that you’re going to be working hard to help serve people. They need to also realize that this is just a temporary gig. Leading A Day of Hope is only going to take a few months of your time and attention, and after that you’ll be back to your old self hanging out with them just as normal. Spending time to serve people shouldn’t be much of an issue to your friends and family if they realize you’re doing what you are doing to help people. Most family and friends will respect your desire to help others who are less fortunate than you.
As you read through this book you might begin to think, “I’m too busy to do this.” My philosophy is that you’ll always think you’re too busy and you’ll never feel that you have enough time. It might never be a good time to start doing A Day of Hope. It’s human nature to fill in the blank, empty spots in our calendar with enjoyable activities, and before we know it, we’re too busy for anything else.
However, once you make the commitment to serve people and you pursue that goal, things start to open up. It’s kind of magical in a way because things start to slowly fall into place so that you’re able to make the time and energy to pursue A Day of Hope and make it successful.
When you leave your driveway to go to work in the morning (I’m assuming you drive to work instead of taking a train, bike, etc.), what if you said, “I’m not going to pull out of my driveway until I know all of the lights will be green for me the entire way.” How silly is that? When starting A Day of Hope, you just need to get started knowing that there are going to be stops along the way, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to keep moving forward again later.
As you start to do A Day of Hope and dedicate the time necessary to piece the project together, you’ll have people who will rally to your cause. They will come alongside of you and help to lighten your work load. Before you get too excited, let me explain that you won’t have tons of people rallying to your cause. But a few will usually come and they can do an amazing amount of work to lighten your load and allow you to do more. But since you’re working for A Day of Hope to do great work, you’re working for someone else. You have their best interests in mind when you respond to requests with, “I’m too busy to meet with you because I’m working on a project where we’re trying to feed people for Thanksgiving.”
As I write these words, a story comes to mind that really illustrates this point clearly. One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah. If you’re not familiar with it (I wasn’t until late last year when I wanted to read a leadership book that was based on Nehemiah), Nehemiah goes to the city of Jerusalem and rebuilds the walls around the city with a group of men and women in only 52 days. While Nehemiah was working with the people to rebuild the walls, local city officials, nobles, and political leaders constantly tried to get a meeting with him. They had devised secret plans to kill him (which Nehemiah probably didn’t know about). As the city officials, nobles, and political leaders sent a messenger to tell Nehemiah they wanted to meet with him, Nehemiah replied directly saying,
“so I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?’”
Nehemiah 6:3 (NLT)
I love this statement from Nehemiah. He’s saying, “I’m busy, don’t bother me.” (Maybe he was eating a Carl’s Jr. Burger.) Here’s the real kicker in the story: the city officials, nobles, and political leaders sent the same message four times (vv. 6:4), and each time Nehemiah replied with the same statement, “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come.”
While leading A Day of Hope, you will encounter many people who don’t have your best interest in mind and who want a piece of your time. When they request a piece of your time you say, “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come.”
[i] Tony Robbins, Personal Power II: The Driving Force (San Diego, CA: Robbins Research International, 1993).