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Rick Warren - Habits That Help Me Hold on in Hard Times

Rick Warren - Habits That Help Me Hold on in Hard Times
TOPICS: Habits, Hard times

Now in the last two messages on habits that help me hold on and handle hard times we looked at the first four habits of seven habits that we're looking at. Now the first four habits that help me handle hard times are, keep my life clean, keep my eyes open, keep my purpose firm and keep my heart grateful. You can go back and listen to those if you miss those messages, you can watch them online. We have three more habits still of the cover in this series. But today we're only going to look at one, habit number five. And the fifth habit that helps us hold on and handle hard times is this, I must keep moving toward my goals. I must keep moving toward my goals.

Now, no matter what the circumstances are that I'm facing, I should be moving toward the goal because I believe God has led me to set that goal and no matter what's going on around me, I'm going to keep moving toward my goal. Once you've written down that phrase, keep moving toward my goal, I want you to circle the word moving. Because movement is an important concept in following Jesus Christ. You see, listen, you can't follow Jesus without moving. You can't be a disciple just by finding a cave and sitting still, you have to move in order to follow Jesus because he's moving. So if you don't move, you can't follow him.

Now, let me explain this. This is one of the major differences between Christianity and Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. A lot of the Eastern faiths are actually more passive and the holiest people in those religions are those who spend the most time doing nothing. In other words, the more you sit, the more you meditate, the more you're quiet, the more holy you are. In contrast, following Jesus requires action, it requires faith, it requires taking risks, it requires movement to follow wherever Jesus leads.

Now, of course the Bible has a lot to say about being still and about being quiet and about waiting on God, but that's not the ultimate end or goal of life, just to sits still and go into nothingness. No, the teaching of Jesus is full of action verbs like go, do, obey, learn. Action verbs like share, serve, tell, and even battle terms in the scriptures like fight, conquer, overcome and win. You see the words of discipleship in following Christ are action verbs. In fact, the Bible often compares life in Christ to a walk or a journey or a race. And all three of those metaphors of life require that you take steps, that you move, you take steps, that you make progress.

Now you say, well, how do I do that? Well, that's what we're going to talk about today and keep moving no matter what's happening in your life, keep moving toward the goal God has given you. You remember in the first message of this series I said that in times of rapid change or in times of uncontrollable factors, like we've been facing the last couple years, or in uncertain times where you don't know what's going to happen next, you don't give up on planning and setting goals. No, you simply set shorter goals, short term goals. And when circumstances make long term planning irrelevant, you just narrow your timeframe.

What you don't do is just drift, drift along without any purpose or without any intention because life's uncertain. How do you keep moving toward your goals in uncertain times? You remember that I encouraged you in the start of this series to set a 100 day plan for your life. Why? Because that's a reasonable amount of time that's not going to overwhelm you. Now, if you're just joining in the series today, it's not too late to get on board with us. You just need to answer two questions. Spend some time this week thinking about these two questions. What's the most important personal goal, the most important personal goal I'd like to accomplish in the next 100 days with God's help?

And the second question is what's the most important ministry goal, that's something to help others, what's the most important ministry goal to help others that I'd like to accomplish in the next 100 days with God's help? I'm not asking you to set 100 goals, I'm asking you to set two. A personal goal and a ministry goal. And if you'll email me your two goals to [email protected], that's one word, Pastor Rick is one word,, I'll pray for you too. Now thousands of other people have already emailed me their goals and I'm praying for them.

Now, I want to answer today the simple question of how do I keep moving toward my goals even in hard times. And I want to suggest to you eight steps that are going to keep you moving forward. And I know these can really help you. So pull out your message notes, okay, pull them out and get a pen. Now, it's predictable that most people set goals, but then immediately forget them. Some of you've already done that. You set some goals a few weeks ago for 100 days you haven't even thought about them since then.

And the reason why is because they don't know, or you don't know these steps that we're going to look at today. And when people are unaware of what God says to do and how to move closer to your goal, then you tend to just forget the goal. It was a good start, but then that's it. So let's jump right into it. Here are the steps for accomplishing any God given goal regardless of what's going on around you, whether you got a pandemic or you out of work or dealing with health issue, whatever.

All right, let's get right into it. Step one, write my goals on a prayer list and pray daily, about them, about the goals. Write my goals on a prayer list and pray daily about them, that's the first step in getting your goals out there is to get them on paper. You write them down on a prayer list. Now, if you've never put your goals on paper, I just have to be honest with you, you're not really serious about them. On the other hand, vague thoughts become specific goals when they pass through the filter of your lips and your fingertips. Your lips and your fingertips. If you can write down what your goal is, and you can say what your goal is in a sentence, then it's going to be pretty clear, you're well on your way to achieving it. But if you can't say it and you can't write it, you're not going to achieve it.

I read a study once that said less than 5% of population in the world, less than 5%, have written goals written down for their life. So you look at 100 people around you, there only five of them have probably done this, written down their goals for their personal lives. But you know what the study also showed, that those 5% have written them down tend to be the most successful and in America, the most wealthy Americans. Why? Because nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. God once told a guy named Habakkuk to write down the vision he was given. In Habakkuk two, chapter two, verse 2, it says this, write down, circle that, write down the vision, make it clear on a tablet so that anyone can read it quickly.

Now, circle the word quickly. A goal must be so simple that you can get it quickly. It's succinct, it's short and it's shareable. And God told Habakkuk, a great prophet, write down the vision that you have and make it clear on a tablet. Now, of course in those days, tablets weren't an electronic. When we talk about a tablet, we're talking about an iPad or something or a Surface, but in those days, tablets were made a clay. Still, God says, write down your dream, write it down on a tablet, write down your vision, write down your goal. He says, don't just daydream out your future. Write down some specific goals with some specific deadlines. But then he doesn't stop there, did you notice the rest of that verse? You need to start praying about your goals every day, that way you're not going to forget them.

Now, I want you to notice a promise that God gives us when we write down what God has put in our heart to do and we begin to pray about it. Proverb 16, verse three says this, commit to the Lord, whatever you do, commit to the Lord, whatever you, that's your goals, and then your plans will succeed. So it starts by writing them down. If you haven't done that, you're going nowhere. Write down your goals, make it a prayer list and start praying about them every day.

Here's step number two, make my goals visible. Make my goals visible. Now, what does that mean to make my goals visible? It means you put them where you're going to see them several times a day. Maybe you put them on your bathroom mirror. Maybe you put them on your refrigerator door. Maybe you put them on your car dashboard. Maybe you put them at work on your desk. You might put them in multiple places, so you don't forget them. Now, why should you do that, make your goals visible? Because studies have shown, and I've told you this before, that you forget almost 95% of everything you hear or think about in about three days if you don't write it down. Which is why we give these outlines out every week, because you're going to forget 95% of what I say by Wednesday if you don't take notes.

James gives us this warning about forgetfulness in James chapter 1:23 and 24, he says this, anyone who listens to God's word without retaining it, without it that's remembering it, is like a person who looks at himself in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like when he walks away. So we need to write it down so that we can remember. Proverbs 3:21 says, hold on to good planning and good sense. Don't let them out of your sight. Now notice that phrase, don't let them out of your sight that's why we're talking about making your goals visible. You don't want to let them out of your sight. So how do you make your good plans and your faith goals, always in your sight?

One of the most practical ways, just make a poster. Make a poster that writes out here's my two goals, my personal goal and my ministry goal for the next 100 days. Make a poster, make it big enough that you can see it, put it up somewhere you're going to see it over and over. Did you know that God once told Isaiah to make a poster? Yeah, he did. In Isaiah chapter eight, verse one, look at this verse of the screen, then the Lord said to me, take a large scroll, get a big piece of paper, and write on it in large letters. Why did God tell Isaiah to do that? Because God wanted to use a visual get people's attention. He wanted them to be continually reminded of what he was going to do.

So he's saying, Isaiah, why don't you go make a poster and write it so big that everybody can see it. So here's your homework. I want you to write out your two goals on a large piece of paper. Now, if you're artistic, you can make it beautiful, make it a thing of beauty. You can make a collage. You can color it. You can paint it. For the of us are not artistic just write out what your goals are. That's the second step. Now here's the third step. Very important, we keep getting a little bit deeper with each of these steps.

Number three, ask God to show me the steps I need to take. I ask God to show me the step I need to take. A goal without steps is worthless. Psalm 25, verse four and five says this, this is a good prayer you could pray, this is a prayer to pray to God, show me, Lord, show me the path where I should walk. Oh, Lord point out the right road for me to follow, lead me by your truth and teach me. What is that verse saying? You're to pray, God, show me the steps I'm supposed to take to fulfill this goal. Show me. Are you praying that? You set a couple goals, well, then the next step is to say, Lord, show me the steps it'll take to get there.

The best example of this is in the Book of Genesis it's chapter 24. I'm not going to read the whole chapter to you. I once wrote a message on it, shared it a number of years ago called Biblical Goal Setting, if you want to go watch it online. But Genesis 24 is the story of Abraham and Abraham has a servant named Eliezer, and Abraham gives his servant Eliezer a huge task. A huge goal. And what's the goal? He said, "Eliezer, I want you to go back to my home country, to my home people, and I want you to find a wife for my son, Isaac".

Pretty big goal. That's pretty big responsibility. You're to find the proper wife, spouse, for your boss, and in Genesis Chapter 24, if you go back and read it, it's about 50 verses, Eliezer brilliantly breaks down this big goal, find a wife for Isaac, into bite-size tasks and steps. And, honestly, it's a case study, Genesis 24. It's a case study of 10 classic steps, and that's the third thing you do. Break the message. Break the goal. Break the vision. Break the objective down into bite-sized bits.

Now, I'm not going to go through all of the 10 steps that Eliezer went through, but let me just mention four of them. First, he defined his purpose. That's a good thing for you to do. What is my purpose in this goal? What is my specific measurable goal? Second thing Eliezer did in Genesis 24:12 is he says, he determined his position. So where am I now? You set a goal and then you determine your position. Where am I now? Next, he discovered a promise and he asks, "What promise from God can I claim as I go looking for a wife for Isaac"? and he found a promise.

And then, number four, he designed a plan and he said, "What steps is it going to take"? And if you want to go read that passage, it's a great story on how to set steps toward your goal. Now, the key to reaching a goal are the steps that you lay out for it. If you don't have any steps, your goal's just going to be wishful thinking. So this third step is extremely important. Fortunately, God wants you to succeed in your goal setting and He wants to guide you in the steps to your goal. He wants to share wisdom in your steps of the goal. He wants you to know the right steps to take, you just need to ask Him. But I got to be honest with you, as your pastor and I love you and I always tell you the truth, I need to warn you about two things in setting up steps toward your goal.

First, the larger your goal is the more steps it's going to take. It's not going to happen overnight. I had to learn this the hard way. At the end the first year of Saddleback Church, in the first year of Saddleback, I was a workaholic. I was working about 18 to 20 hours a day, getting this new church off the launchpad. I had no staff, nobody helping me, it was just Kaye, and I was doing everything. I was doing all the preaching, all the teaching, all the baptizing, all the praying, all the counseling, all the visiting, all the managing conflict, and everything. And at the end of the first year, I just hit the wall and I just ran out of energy, and I went through a period of depression that actually lasted the entire second year of the church.

But in that year of depression, God gave me a very encouraging verse that I want to share with you, and here's the background. Moses was out of the picture. He had died. Joshua had arrived at the Promised Land and he's going to lead the people into the Promised Land. And God said, there's going to be battles in there, and as they're getting ready, the night before they go into the Promised Land, God tells him, Joshua, this in Deuteronomy 7:22. It's on your screen. He says, "I will drive out those nations before you, but little by little..." notice that, little by little. He said, "You're not going to eliminate them all at once. Otherwise, the wild animals would multiply and take over too quickly and you could not handle it".

In the middle of my depression the second year of Saddleback Church, God gave me that verse and an idea that I call Pacing Growth. God said, "I'm not going to build this church overnight. I'm not going to do it all at once, so why do you think you're trying to get it all done in the first year"? and that's what was depressing me is I was trying to go too fast. God said to Joshua, "I'm going to give you this Promised Land, but I'm not going to give it to you all at once. I'm going to drive the enemy out little by little so that you're able to handle it. If I drove all at once, wild animals would come in and take over areas that you're not big enough to populate".

And so he said we're going to have pacing growth. Whatever your goal is in your life, God's going to do that with you. Why? Because while you're growing your goal, God is growing you and that's far more interesting to God. God is much more interested in what you're becoming than what you accomplish. Why? Because when you go to heaven, you're not taking any of your accomplishments. What you're taking with you is your character. So you need to realize that the bigger your goal is, the longer it's going to take and there will be pacing over a period of time. Here's another thing you need to remember: in order to build your faith, God wants to build your faith, and in order to teach you to trust Him, God's not going to show you every step you need to take at the start. He's not going to show you all of the steps to get where you need to go. He's going to share them with you little by little.

See, a lot of people, what they want is they want to map from God for their life and they want to map where they can see, "Here's here I am and here's the end, and here's how I get there". God's never going to give you a life map like that where you can see everything from the beginning to the end on the map. Instead, He gives it to you on a scroll where you roll it down a little bit and you read it and go, "Oh, do that," and once you do, He rolls down a little bit more and you go, "Oh, do that". Once you do that, He rolls it down a little bit more. He gives you just enough light to take you to the next step. Believe me, I've had to learn this from experience.

In 42 years of leading the Saddleback Church, God never showed me what the next step was for five years from now or even a year from now. He'd say, "This is the step I want you to take right now," and when I would do that He would reveal the next one. This has been my experience for 42 years as your pastor at Saddleback. If in the actually first year of this church God had shown me and revealed to me all the steps I was going to have to make over the next four decades, I wouldn't have been able to handle it. It would have blown my mind. There's no way I can do that. And so God's not going to show you all of the steps to get you to your goal right upfront. He'll show you a few and you do those, He'll show you more.

You do those, He'll show you a few more, but you can count on this and I know this to be true: God will always show you the next step in your life at the exact time you need it. When you need to know it, God will show it and it will be revealed because God enjoys doing that. Did you know that? Look at this next verse on your outline. Psalm 37:23 says this, "The steps..." We're talking about steps today, steps to getting to your goal, steps to getting to your vision, steps to fulfilling your dream. Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of good people are directed by the Lord and He delights," look at this, "in each step they take".

Circle the word each. God delights in each step you take. He enjoys watching you take each step. Now, if you're a parent, you understand exactly what this verse means. You understand this kind of delight because you enjoy watching your kids take larger and larger steps, and more and more complex steps, as they grow. But you didn't wait until they made the big step to start loving them. You love them at every stage of their growth, in their first baby step, in the stumbling that they did. You love them at every stage no matter what step they were on.

So get this, and if you don't get anything else I get I say today, get this: God is not waiting on you to get to a certain level of maturity before He starts enjoying you and enjoying a relationship with you. You can be a baby Christian who can't even crawl yet, you can't walk, you can't even crawl yet, but God loves you and enjoys you just as much as He does some saint who's walked with God for 70 years, all right? So these are the first three steps.

Now, we come to the fourth step in moving toward your goal no matter what's happening in your life, and here's the fourth step: identify barriers. And what do I mean by that? Write this question down. Why don't I have this already? That is a fundamentally important question in your life. When you have something that you want, something you desire: a dream, a goal, an objective, you need to pause and say, "Why don't I have it already"? Because there in the answer to that question you're going to find the barriers that you're going to have to deal with to get to the dream God has put in your heart.

Let's look at some verses Proverbs 27:12 says this: A sensible man, that's a wise man, a prudent man, a sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them, but the fool never looks ahead and suffer the consequences. That's what this point's all about. Anticipating the barriers in advance to being coming who you want to be, to doing what you want to do, to achieving whatever you want to achieve, to having whatever you want to have. The great people they look ahead, but the fool never looks ahead and they suffer the consequences. You anticipate what are the potential barriers between me and my goal? You got to be realistic.

You see, you're going to face challenges, but if you can identify those obstacles in advance, guess what? They're not going to be so intimidating. As a leader, I am always trying to think of what are going to be the next barriers in the growth of Saddleback Church. I'm not thinking about right now, I'm thinking about what are the problems we're going to have next year, 5 years, 10 years. I try to think through what could hold us back. What are the unintended consequences of what we're doing right now? What I'm talking about is just being a wise woman or being a wise man. Proverbs 18:4 says this, Living Bible, "The wise man looks ahead, but the fool attempts to fool himself and won't face the facts". They won't face the facts. Ever met anybody like that? They're in total denial of reality.

"What barriers? I don't see any barriers out there. All I can see is I've got this great dream". Have you thought about it's going to take money? It's going to take contacts. It's going to take energy. It's going to take time. Things could go wrong in the economy. You can have a pandemic. All those kind of things. He's saying this fourth step is to stop and go, "Why don't I have it already and what could keep me from getting it"? and once you've done that, you're ready for the fifth step.

And the fifth step is an important step. Write this down. Draw a step ladder showing each step. We're talking about you have something in your mind. You say, "I believe God wants me to do this with my life, but I'm here and that's there. There are steps in between". Well, sometimes it helps just to create a visual tool as an aid to assist you in thinking through the steps. So just sit down and get a piece of paper, draw two side lines and draw some steps, like it's a ladder. And then on the first rung of the ladder, you write down what you need to do first. What's the first thing I need to do? And on the top rung of the ladder, you write, "This is the goal that I want to reach," and then you visualize each step up the ladder. Okay? And at the top of the ladder, you write down your ultimate goal and then you start filling in the steps in between.

Now, let me say this. Some of the steps between you and your goal, you don't have to wait on God to get an answer for, it's just going to be common sense, and so you needed to sit down and take the time to seriously think about it. The Bible says this: you sit down, you be quiet, and you ask God to guide you and then you just think about where you're going to go. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? All of your life is in the future. You can't go backwards. You can only go forward. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? God revealed a lot of His will for your future when He gave you a brain, but you have to use it. That's why the Bible says this. Look there on your outline.

Proverbs 14:15 says, "A prudent man gives thought to his steps". We're talking about steps, the steps to getting to your goal. A prudent man gives thoughts to his steps. Have you ever done that? How long has it been since you thought through the next steps in your life? Or you're just drifting along and maybe you've been drifting through COVID for two years. A mark of wisdom says the prudent man gives thought to his steps. You think through each step of your life so you need to take the time step of your life. So you need to take the time to create a vision ladder or a dream ladder. And you need to ask this question. I mentioned it a couple weeks ago.

You ask, what do I need to do today in order to get where I want to be tomorrow? What do I need to do today in order to get where I want to be tomorrow? The problem why most people never reach their goals? They can't delay gratification. I have to do what I want to do right now, and it's what I feel like doing. But people who are successful, do what they don't feel like doing today so they can enjoy what they really want to feel like tomorrow. And so, what do I need to do today that I can work on? The Bible says that's what a wise person does. They think through the steps. They think through their life. They think through their goal. And you break down your goal in these digestible pieces.

You've heard that old cliche, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That's how you eat an elephant, one bite at a time. Inch by inch, anything is a cinch. Life by the yard is hard, but by the inch, it's a cinch. What does the Bible have to say about this? Look at this verse, Proverbs 4:26 tells us know where you're headed and you will stay on solid ground. Now that verse, Proverbs 4:26, both a proverb and a promise. If you know where you're headed, you've marked out your steps, you've considered the barriers. You've done all these first four, five steps that I've talked about. Then he says, you're going to stay on solid ground.

That leads us to the last few steps. The sixth important step in how to go for your goals and keep moving even in tough times is this: enlist a friend to walk with me. Enlist a friend to walk with me for support and for accountability. You see, trying to accomplish a goal entirely on your own can be lonely, can be overwhelming. Success is never a one person job. It's always a team. And the God has a lot to say in his word about the benefits of working in a team, about the benefit of accountability, about being mutually accountable and giving mutual support to each other. And if you both share your goals, you help each other out.

Accountability helps you make consistent, steady progress in your life. Why am I doing this message? Because a lot of you're just floating. You don't have any goals. You've let COVID shrink your life and everything else. But if you get a partner, then you start getting... That's one of the steps to getting back into heading toward what God wants you to do with your life. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says this in the message in the New Living Translation. "It's better to have a partner than to go it alone".

You know that with a diet or exercise or anything. It says you get more done working together. And if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people are all alone. When they fall, they're in real trouble. That's why you got to have somebody. You don't need 15 people working with you. You just need a partner. You need one person who's committed to you and you're committed to them. Now We come to the last two and these are the ones I've been waiting to share with you because they are the deepest points in becoming a man of God or a woman of God to fulfill the dreams, the goals, the vision that God has for your life and that you have for your life.

Number seven, here's the seven step. Realize that missteps are how we learn. Realize that missteps, when you blow it, when you make a mistake, when you trip up on your path to the goal, that's how you learn. Don't call it a failure. Call it an education. You try something. That didn't work. You try something else. That didn't work. You try something else. That doesn't work. And on about the 95th time, you try something, it works. Then you go out and teach a seminar, pretend like you knew what you were doing. Don't call it a failure. Call it an experiment. Call it an education. It is through your missteps that you learn what doesn't work. The reality is that we discover what doesn't work and what works by what doesn't work.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 24:16. Proverbs 24:16 says this, "A righteous person may fall seven times. That's called a misstep". A righteous person, even righteous people, even good people screw up, mess up, even good people stumble, make missteps. I have made thousands of missteps in my life. Proverbs 24:16, "A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets back up. That's resilience". Now I don't know why, but the older you get, you tend to start losing resilience instead of getting more of it. When you're a child, you have plenty of resilience. You know when a child starts learning to walk and that child learns to walk and the first 50 times the child stumbles and falls over in a bundle. No child ever thinks to himself, "Well, maybe walking isn't for me. I've tried 50 times. I'm just going to give up now". No. They just get up and keep going.

That is the resilience you need through all of your life. In recovery, we know that relapse is a part of recovery. Okay? It's part of recovery. The missteps are part of the goal, getting to the goal. Now here's the mistake that a lot of people make or it's the misunderstanding that a lot of people have. Because when I've talked to people. For instance, they get a vision to start a business and they go out and they put a lot of money into it and they open up a business and they rent a space. And six months later, it just kind of crumbles. And when they fall on the path of reaching their dreams, they think the wrong thing. They think number one, God has left me, or number two, God is punishing me. Or number three, the dream was never from God in the first place.

The first two are definitely wrong. The third one is probably wrong about half the time. First two are definitely wrong. Here's the truth. When you have missteps in your life, God is far more interested in what you're becoming than he is in what you're trying to accomplish. You see, you care about the results, the goals in your life, but God cares about your character development. He's more interested in the person you are becoming while you're working on your goal than is even the goal. No, because of that, he's not going to remove all of the problems and all of the pressures and all of the difficulties that can teach you, even though he's given you the dream. He put that dream in your heart. But if he took out all the tough parts, that would defeat his plan for your personal maturity.

And every one of us have had major missteps as we've gone after a goal or a dream or a vision. I'm going to set you free right now with this next verse. Do you know, do you want to know what God thinks about your missteps? All the missteps you've had in your life on the way to your goal? You want to know what God thinks about your missteps? He doesn't. What do you mean? He doesn't think about them. He doesn't worry about your missteps. Listen, he's looking at your long-term growth. This next verse we're going to look at, Job 14:16, it's going to set many of you free from a lot of past regrets. Job 14:16, and the message translation.

Job says this. "You Lord watch over every step". This is a message on our steps. "You Lord watch over every step I take, but you won't keep track of my missteps". Hello? Look at that verse. "You Lord watch over every step I take, but you won't keep track of my missteps". Are you kidding me? Do you realize what's that says? God is keeping count of how many times you've taken a step of faith in your life, how many times you've taken a step in trusting him, but he is not counting all your missteps. Wow. What a God. What a God. Another translation says you keep track of all my steps, but you're not adding up all my sins. Why not? Because of the death of Jesus Christ for us on the cross, all of your sins have already been paid for, all of my sins have already been paid for, even the ones I haven't done yet.

So God knows that he's keeping track of all of my little steps of faith as I go toward my goals and dreams and vision, what I think God wants me to do with my life. He's noticing every little step of faith. He's taking, paying no attention to my missteps. That's what he says. He said, "Why"? "Because it's already been paid for and there's double jeopardy. You don't have to pay for something that Jesus paid for. That means you get to go scot-free. Whoa. That's not fair". No, of course it's not fair. It's called grace.

Now the last step in these eight steps to moving ahead, continue to make progress in your life even when you're going through tough times, even when you're going through a rough patch, the last step is by far without a doubt, the most overlooked secret in reaching any goal, becoming the man of God you want to be, becoming the woman of God you want to be. It's overlooked all the time and here's the eighth step. You ready for it? Write this down. Take a baby every day. Take a baby step every single day. Take a baby step daily. This is the most important key in accomplishing any goal. It doesn't have to be a big step. It doesn't have to be a flashy step. It doesn't have to be a flamboyant step. It doesn't have to be an impressive step. It just has to be, listen, a step in the right direction.

Now the fact is goals aren't going to achieve themselves. And even the smallest act makes you one step closer. Even the smallest step is progress. Now listen to me, friends. Taking action daily on a daily basis every day is the most important step toward your success as a man or a woman in this life. Don't let fear hold you back. Paul is a good example of this. Paul was purpose-driven in his life and in his goal-setting. 1st Corinthians 9:26, New Living Translation. Paul says this, "I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step". Circle that, with purpose in every step. Is every step in your life filled with purpose? No. Mine neither.

Paul says, "I'm not like a boxer who's out there missing his punching. I'm not shadow boxing. I'm not punching in the air. I'm making my punches count. I'm making my steps count. And I am driven by purpose. I run with purpose in every little step. May not be a big step today, but it's a purposeful step".

Now I want to wrap up this message by just sharing with you my heart, because I've thought a lot about this because learning to take daily baby steps have been the key to my life. And I want you to learn this. I want to pass this on to you. Your life, listen, your life is never going to change until you start doing some things every day. It's only when you do them daily, that your life starts changing. Now, when you haven't been doing anything, a small step is giant progress. And it really doesn't matter how small that daily step is. It could seem minuscule, nobody even notices it but you and God. It doesn't matter how small that step is moving towards your goal as long as you take a step and you keep going and you do it in the right direction. I've trained a lot of leaders around the world.

And what I've noticed in studying leadership and studying successful people is that success is sometimes, sometimes launched by a big step of faith. Not always, but sometimes success is launched by a big step of faith, like getting into U-Haul and moving to California with no money, no members, no building and having never pastored a church. Sometimes success is launched by a big step of faith, but it is always followed by a lifetime of small steps of faithfulness on a daily basis. in one location to tens of thousands of people on four continents? But one of the things I learned when I was planting a church in Nagasaki, Japan as a teenager, was a word in Japan called kaizen. Kaizen means continuous progress through small improvements. And we've been doing that at Saddleback for 42 years, continuous progress from small, baby step improvements.

I watched a little bit of the Olympics this week, and I was reminded again that the difference between winners and the also-ran is often a matter of millimeters or microseconds. Friend, you win in the little things. You don't win in the big, giant steps of faith. You win in the small steps of faith taken every single day. Any small step of any size is better than standing still. And some of you've been standing still for a long time. And I've noticed that a lot of people miss out on doing great things, because they belittled the idea of doing little things. They won't take little steps, because their pride keeps them from beginning.

Some of you are getting up toward retirement. You're kind of like me. Let me just say this. You're never too old to take a baby step. You're never too young to take a baby step. Every step and every action in your life adds up. So be purposeful, be intentional about it. Life is a series of baby steps that add up. So take a small step every single day. You take a small step and you just keep on taking it the next day, and the next day, and the next day. And sometimes, listen, the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Some of you are going to take a tiny step today, but it's going to change the rest of your life. I don't know what it is.

God's going to call some of you into full-time Christian ministry. God's going to call some of you to go after a dream you've had on the shelf for years, maybe even decades. You're going to take the first baby step and that's going to be the biggest step of your life. Some of you are going to take the baby step of opening your life to Jesus Christ, opening your life to being baptized, opening your life to becoming a part of the Saddleback family. Taking Class 101. Baby steps, but it'll be the biggest change in your life as a result. And you'll mark it from this day. I am challenging you, as somebody who loves you, to take a baby step as an act of defiance against fear, and defiance against laziness, and defiance against a culture that wants to keep you down.

Now, let me tell you, here's what I've discovered. You don't need to know all of the steps to get started. You only need to know the first one and the rest of them will come, as I said, when God wants to give them to you. Some of you are paralyzed by perfectionism. What you need to start doing is focus on progress, not perfection. Nobody's ever going to be perfect on this planet. Don't focus on perfection. Focus on progress. Just make progress, and don't worry about setbacks. Relapse is part of recovery. Missteps are part of the way we learn what works. We always underestimate the power of a small step taken consistently day after day after day after day. Small steps over a period of time turn into miles of progress.

Now I know some of you are thinking, "Well, Rick, what I'm thinking about doing, it's just a baby step". And I say, "Yeah, but it's a step". I want you to listen to me. Get this. The length of your step is not as important as the direction of your step. Some of you are out there trying to do great things for God. Stop it. Just start doing little things for God with great love. The length of your step is not as important as the direction of your step. What matters is not long strides in life, but lifelong steps. And a baby step is better than no step at all.

Let me give you some Scriptures. Colossians 3:17 says this message. Paraphrase, let every detail of your lives, your words, your actions, whatever, be done in the name of the master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. You know, now after this message, you're going to start seeing how many verses in Scripture actually talk about your steps. Thanking God the Father every step of the way. And look at this next verse. Galatians 5:25 says this. Since we live by the spirit, let us keep step with the spirit. God is interested in your steps. Now, here's a verse I want to close with. Job chapter 31, verse 4. Job 31:4 says this. This changed my life when I understood it. God sees my ways and counts every step I take. God sees my ways and counts every step I take.

Did you know God counts every step you take? I want you to write this down. Every step counts because God counts every step. You have no steps in your life that don't matter. Every step counts because God counts every step. That's how much God loves you. Do you hear what I'm saying here? The Bible says that God not only sees every step you take, he counts them. He counts every step in your life. Long before your phone has step counter, God was counting your daily steps. You know, when I finally realized that is how my heavenly Father feels about me, honestly, I was overwhelmed. Tears flooded my eyes. God counts all my steps. Why? Why did that touch me so much? Because I'm a father.

And when my kids were little in school, I went to all of their track meets. When my kids were in school, and my kids all ran races in school. And I watched their steps as they ran their races, but never did I consider counting their steps. I watched their steps as their father and I loved then, but I never counted their steps. That's how much God cares about the details of your life. As I said long before, there were apps on your phone to count your steps, God was counting them.

Now the ultimate goal, the ultimate reason of working on a goal, whatever your goal is, your God-given goal, dream, objective, whatever's the big thing you've always wanted to do with your life, the ultimate goal of your work on that goal with God is that you realize how much he really, really, really, really loves you. What baby step do you need to take this very second? You don't need to take all the steps. Let me remind you. You don't have to take all the steps today. You just need to take the first one, and it doesn't even have to be a big step. It just has to be a step in the right direction. And enough baby steps in the right direction get you miles ahead of where you are today.

So let me close with this question again. What step do you need to take this very second? Do you need to take the step of opening your life to Jesus Christ? Say:

Jesus Christ, I've known about you, but I've never opened my life to you, and I want you to come in. I surrender my life to you. Become the manager of my life.

You need to take that step. Have you never been baptized? You need to take that step. Are you not connected to a spiritual family where you've said, "This is going to be my spiritual family, where I give and be given to, or I receive, where I share and be shared with. Where I make a contribution and I receive a contribution". We welcome you at Saddleback Church. Maybe your baby step is to take Class 101. Or maybe your baby step is to take the next Class 201, the Habits for Spiritual Growth, or 301, Discovering My Shape for Service in the World, and Class 401, Discovering My Life Message and My Life Mission That I Was Created For. Whatever your baby step is, doesn't matter how big or how little it is, just make sure it's in the right direction. Let me pray for you. Let's bow our heads.

Heavenly Father. We've looked at a lot of Scriptures today talking about how you want to not just us to have a goal, but the steps it takes to get it there. And I pray that everybody will take a baby step today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, but today.

Now you, in your heart with your mind clear and realizing that Jesus can hear every thought you have in your mind. You tell him what baby step you're going to take. Maybe you've known you needed to do this for a long time. Maybe you need to go reconcile with somebody. Maybe you need to go ask for forgiveness. Maybe you need to offer forgiveness. Whatever it is, take that baby step and commit to doing it today. And then tomorrow take another baby step. And the next day another one, and those will all add up.

Father, I'm praying that you'll give people courage to be men and women of God. That we will not waste our steps when we realize that you count every step. And because you count every step, every step counts. Thank you, Lord, that we don't have to know all the steps we need in life, just the first one. And when we do that, you'll show us the second, and then the next, and then the next as we walk along in faith. Help each of us, whatever stage we are at right now to not just listen to this message, but to be a doer of the word, and to take some kind of step of faith in our lives every single day for the rest of our lives. I pray this blessing on everybody here in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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