One of the most popular advertising mantras pumping through millions of 50-inch television screens tonight is the idea that, for no apparent reason, we all desperately need to improve our quality of life. It’s popular with advertisers because it taps into our desire for more stuff (like a new car with all the gadgets) or more experiences (dream holiday with accompanying tan). For others, improving their quality of life brings forth visions of home renovations, a new kitchen and freshly painted walls.
And there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things of course – unless you’re actually counting on them to deliver long-term improvement in your quality of life. In fact, a recent study of luxury vehicle buyers found that the measurable thrill of their new car lasted less than 2 weeks. That’s a lot of money for a happy fortnight.
It will come as no surprise to you that advertisers exaggerate in order to sell you more – and yet they keep spruiking the same message … and we keep buying.
What I’ve found is that the only way to genuinely improve your quality of life is to improve yourself. So if I want a better home life, then painting a wall or swapping cars won’t do much at all because it’s the people who make home better or worse.
Many people get trapped chasing the ‘next thing’, enamoured by what they lack instead of simply learning to maximise their current life! My prayer for you and our wonderful Cedars family is not for more, more, more but that we would expand what we currently have. Think about the windows on your computer which can be minimised or maximised with the click of a mouse. The actual content on your computer stays exactly the same when you click to maximise – it simply expands what you already had. In other words is not about getting busier but wiser.
In Joshua 14, ( have a read yourself) we find an 85-year-old man who was a ‘maximiser’. Caleb, one of the original 12 spies who checked out the Promised Land, has been waiting a very long time to take possession. Yet his passion has not diminished as we can see in verses 11 & 12: “11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Caleb was successful, vigorous, resourceful, tenacious, cheeky and strong with what he had – not what he wished he could have. He’s a great example for us today and so here are some tips from Caleb on maximising your life.
Don’t change what you have – change how you see it
When they first entered the Promised Land 40 years earlier, Caleb and Joshua saw the exact same giants as the other 10 spies. Caleb and Joshua gave a good report but the other spies had spent so long staring at the desert that all they could see was more wasteland. People quit when they feel hopeless. When that happens try to think like Caleb – and remember God sees giants as grasshoppers.
Choose a life of learning and growth
I love Caleb’s attitude. At 85, he was willing to take on new challenges and fight new battles. He wanted to keep expanding. Leaders are often surprised to hear that after 30 years of public speaking I still practice every time before I speak. They ask me why? The reason is because I believe I’m starting to make some progress! And until I’m the best that I can be, then I’m going to keep learning, connecting and practising. Never stop growing.
Focus on self-development not self-fulfilment
The worst people to have in a team are those who join for self-fulfilment instead of self-development. Self-fulfilment was never meant to be our end goal. Jesus must be our fulfilment, there’s nothing our self needs outside of him.
Maximisers are willing to pay the price to grow
What’s the price? Being uncomfortable and disciplined enough to stay on course. I’m sure there was a part of Caleb that felt old. He probably didn’t need another battle at that age, but he refused to bow to his feelings. As Theodore Roosevelt famously said: “There has not been a person in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.”