By Jonathan Newton
There is no virtue in the struggle. The virtue lies in who you become during and after the struggle.
My dad was a pretty tough guy. A rough-around-the-edges kind of guy. He was a Vietnam veteran and farm type. We always had a garden growing up, and fresh eggs and jelly were just down the street at my grandmother's. I don't wax nostalgic for any reason except to say that being raised by my dad wasn't abusive, but he was a hard man. He would say, "There's a right way, a wrong way, and the Army way. And I'm not in the Army anymore and we ain't doin it wrong. Do it right or do it over.". It wasn't uncommon to have "instruction" given from a very loud and frustrated father. This would be important later.
During my teenage years, I began going to church with some of the other kids on my street. It's where I first became acquainted with the idea of God being my father. I had one of those already. So naturally, I assumed God must be like my dad. I really really don't want to piss Him off. He would kill me for sure... This concern haunted me for quite some time.
Fast forward to the parable of the talents. For those who aren't familiar, it's a story Jesus relates in the book of Matthew, chapter 25. In the story, the master delivers three talents (units of money) to his servants with the expectation of a return on investment. Two of the servants did so, the third hid his in the dirt. It may be needless to say, but the third servant suffered a pretty rough chastisement for not investing.
I've had rough chastisements before, I know exactly how that guy felt. He didn't want to make a mistake and risk loss and the subsequent disappointment from his master and reconciled it would be better to do nothing and thereby protect the investment. I totally get it. He viewed his master as very strict and hard to please. It was a feeling I knew all too well.
Fast forward to now, well, not long ago. April asks what fear looks like to me. Of course, being the intellectual type, I try to give her a smart answer. Something practical. A childhood experience, and how I overcame the fear. It was the last time I remember being terrified.
But that wasn't my fear. I had yet to come to grips with that.
I don't remember where I was, or what I was doing at the time, but a morbidity loomed overhead. I feared dying stuck, before my children could see that circumstances aren't prison. I feared dying too young like my dad did, not being there for my kids. I feared dying alone, not seeing the fulfillment of a promise.
I wanted to get unstuck. I had to launch this dream. I had to keep going. I had to do it right because I didn't want to step out of bounds with God and get squished...and that's exactly what held me back.
I went back to that parable and looked at those servants again. Two did well, and they had some distinctly different mindsets and actions. Tools I used to say fuck it.
Their view of the master was completely different. The fearful servant saw the master as very strict and hard to please, etc. while the other two servants said, Lord, you gave me this, this is what I've done with it. They viewed their master not as a strict man, but a giver of gifts.
They also went and traded the money. They didn't play, they didn't spend, they invested. Regardless of chance, they put the money to use the best way they knew how to get the best return possible. They sought opportunities for success, not loss.
These two shifts were critical. In order for me to move from this looming fear of death and disappointment to a place of thriving and growth, I absolutely had to kick my own ass. I was looking at this all wrong.
Yes, God is holy. God is also merciful. God is also good. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. God loves me and understands I'm human and going to make mistakes.
It was time to look at all my "talents". What were all the assets I currently have available and how can I use them to get a desirable return? I made lists, outlines and wrote. Ten things I can do this week to build my business. I'm not going to list them because it's different for every individual. You might have ten things to do to mend a relationship. You might have ten things to do to find a job. Whatever it is, you have the resources. That's the important part.
Listing your ten things, or fifteen or two is a good start, but it's important to remember to tackle the hardest one first when your energy is highest. The tasks get easier from there, there's less to cause anxiety later in the day and you build momentum by taking daily actions towards your goals. It's a system in place that counts.
More than that, we don't have to fear making mistakes. We're human. God is more concerned that we have a relationship with him than he is that we "follow the rules".
Fuck it. Do the best you can with what you've got, and when you get more, do more.
changing the world, one business at a time. father of four amazing kids and a rescue pit, business coach, customer experience expert, author, passionate chef...
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers