— by Mike Sharrow
I was given my first significant corporate opportunity to build out a new department and set of enterprises programs to support a multi-billion-dollar initiative. This was my break! The stakes were high, timeline fixed by a federal mandate and it was exhilarating. Unfortunately, they put Shelby on the project with me and I didn’t think she was nearly as “driven” as I was. She walked by my desk looking tired, so I asked her if she was okay. “Yeah, I am just adjusting to less sleep in this intense run.” I condescendingly rebuked her, “Shelby, that’s dumb. This is a high-stakes project. You have to be at your best. I’m making sure that all I do is work, sleep, workout and maintain fitness of mind and body. What in the world is keeping you from getting enough sleep?” She smiled and said, “Well, knowing how much this matters for everyone I’ve been getting up 2 hours early every day to pray that God would give me the wisdom to serve well…how are you keeping your prayer life up in this sprint?” (Gulp) I felt 3 feet tall and she was suddenly towering over me! I, the “spiritual giant” I thought I was compared to Miss Not Driven Enough had brilliantly hit “pause” on my prayer and Bible reading “logically” to focus on “essentials” during this launch.
Years later I was meeting with a mentor seeking counsel on a storm I was navigating professionally. After telling him that I really saw a light at the end of the tunnel and if I could just get “there,” I’d take a break, breath and reset the dials in life. He smiled and asked if he could pray for me. His prayer went, “Father, would you teach Mike how to rest in you at a high rate of speed? It is unlikely his life will slow down or the ideal circumstance ever be achieved where it is convenient to rest…and abiding in you is not conditional upon a lack of demands in life. So, show him what You desire for him, how to rest at a high rate of speed.” I have written that prayer in my journal probably 50X since then!
As leaders building cool stuff, and all the more so when we’re building stuff “for the Kingdom” (because you know God really, really needs that payday we’re promising him a piece of!), we too often practice Calendar Atheism and become religious zealots for Performance Idolatry. Oh, it’s always “temporary” and “just a season.” Right?
I was wrestling with this in an accountability group and found myself in a hotel room asking God why I was feeling so stressed out? Isn’t His way supposed to be “light and easy?” After a time of prayer I drew out this T Chart of Cosmic Insubordination. I realized, I am actually at war with God in my life all too regularly! What’s your T Chart look like? As a husband I was haunted by 1 Peter 3:7 … was it true God would literally ignore my prayers if I’m letting my obsession fuel neglect in my marriage?
Greg argues that our energy and effectiveness follows the laws of hydraulics. The more outputs the lower the pressure and the less distance the mass will travel. Unless we put hard stops, denying many GOOD things so we can be faithful in the GREAT things we’re called to do, we will be mediocre or fail.
Behind all of this is a ton of theology, actually. At some point we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in matters of eternity and “spiritual stuff,” but in the nuts and bolts of life we live as though WE are the masters of our fate. Be honest.
I was sitting in a C12 peer advisory group in Austin with 12 other CEOs I meet with monthly and we were wrestling with this very issue. My chair looked at me and said, “Mike, in Genesis we see that God, the most productive person in the universe, each day found it possible to get some work done, wrap up with a huge To Do list incomplete, called it a day and called that day “good.” He wasn’t done, there was so much to do, and it was ‘good’ to stop. If God could stop…why can’t you?”
Here’s a brief on the Biblical idea of DILIGENCE I’d like to share with you. Check out the touching story of how a CEO in Ohio transparently shared he had to radically reform his approach to his schedule and it became a bigger faith journey than he had imagined.
This is a touchy subject, I know. I’m throwing no stones, because I’ve been the chief of sinners in this all too often. I’ve learned God delights in our constraints, however – we’re even deficient by design! There are often critical gaps (mind the gap!) that God is passionate to father us through if we’ll stop. We made a self-assessment tool that digitally populates some new year goals that could be a place of assessing reality.
I will pray for YOU what that mentor prayed for me…
Father, would you help US learn how to rest at a high rate of speed? Show us how to embrace diligence as You define it, to discern between a need and a calling, to trust You to be who You say You are and be the kind of faith-driven entrepreneurs who glorify You in HOW we do the precious WHATs that we are often so possessed by. Jesus, you are our life…apart from You we can do nothing ultimately. You said things will seem impossible in our flesh but that with God all things are possible. We trust you. We pray for wisdom, courage and the faith to follow Your Way in the name of Jesus and to the glory of the Father, Amen!