A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted the most adorable story on social media.
One morning as she was preparing breakfast for her husband and family, her husband commented that the coffee she’d made was exceptionally good that morning. Then he added, “Whatever you did today, you should do from now on…this is really good.”
Not having done anything different to the coffee, my friend replied, “I don’t know what I did, but I’ll do my best to replicate it tomorrow.”
That’s when her three-year-old son decided to join the conversation.
His words of wisdom: “Just do your rest and forget the rest.”
As always, Facebook went wild with “likes” for this little philosopher’s words of wisdom! Yes, I was included in his crowd of fans. Could he be any cuter?
The funny thing is that hidden behind the “cute factor” there is a lot of wisdom.
I can’t tell you how many times my brother and I have quoted this line back to each other over the past few weeks.
--Every time we were stressed about an upcoming ministry event.
--Whenever things weren’t working out as planned.
--Each time circumstances that were beyond our control changed the outcome of something in our lives, one of us would say, “Remember what our little friend says, ‘Just do your best and forget the rest!’”
Then we’d laugh and remember that really was all we could do.
Really, there comes a point in each leader’s life where they need to accept this simple saying. We can’t control the world, we can’t control people’s opinions, all we can really do is give it our best, and let God control the rest.
Of course, actually putting this saying into action requires some self-examination on our part.
This starts when we ask ourselves the question: Am I really doing my best?
From time to time in each leader’s life, we need take a good hard look at our attitudes and actions and evaluate whether we are really doing the best that we can or falling into the trap of laziness and complacency. The truth is that it can be very easy to allow the stress and pressures of leadership provide excuses for “phoning it in” from time to time. As leaders we need to constantly guard against the temptation to do “just enough” or simply fill our quota. After all, being a leader isn’t easy, but it sure is easy to find a reason to give less than our best.
However, this is not what God expects from His people.
Instead, as followers of Jesus, we are called to follow His example of leadership and do the best we can to serve those who are following us in every situation. As we study the Gospels, we see that whether He was tired, experiencing personal turmoil, hungry, or under attack from the religious leaders, Jesus always gave His best to those who needed Him.
Because He always brought His A-game, we are called to endeavor to follow His example and do the same.
Does this mean we will always be perfect and meet every demand?
No, as human beings we will never be capable of doing everything right. However, we are always called to do our best.
Whatever we put our hand to do, we need to give it everything we have.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Those who are following us deserve nothing less; and even more importantly, the God that we are serving deserves the very best we can give.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,” (Colossians 3:23)
With this as our motivation, from time to time we need to ask ourselves:
Am I doing the best that I can?
Am I using my efforts in the best way possible, or am I wasting time on things that don’t matter?
Am I open to advice and constructive criticism from mentors and other leaders?
Am I trying to learn new concepts, ideas, and even technologies so I can grow personally and serve others in the absolute best way possible?
Am I really trying my best or am I hardly trying at all?
The answers to these questions are very important, because one day, each one of us will stand before God and give an account for how we managed the responsibilities given to us as leaders. On that day, whether we hear “Well done good and faithful servant” or “You could have done so much more” will not be measured by opinion polls, spreadsheets, or resumes, but on the attitude of our hearts to do the best that we could with the opportunities and responsibilities He gave us.
When that day comes, will you honestly be able to answer, “I sincerely did the best that I could?”
If you’re answer is “No”, then it’s time to make some adjustments.
If you could honestly answer “Yes”, then it’s time to move on to the second half of this month’s lesson: After you’ve done your best, you’ve got to forget the rest.
Personally, I think this is the more difficult side of the equation.
Why? Well, I like to be in control and think that I can run the world.
I like it when things work out exactly as I scheduled and planned.
I prefer the times when nothing interferes with the program and everything goes off without a hitch.
I want people to approve of me.
I’d much rather hear the roar of the crowd than listen to people boo and hiss.
Unfortunately, there are times when many things are beyond my control.
For instance, I cannot keep unexpected circumstances from interfering with my best laid plans.
Sometimes people get sick; other times things stop functioning they way they are designed to function. (Computers especially---sometimes they just have an agenda of their own)
I can’t control other people’s responses and choices.
Then there’s the weather---no one can control the weather.
If you’re going to survive and have any longevity as a leader, one of the first lessons you’re going to have to learn is that after you’ve given it your very absolute best, you’re going to have to let go and let God control the rest.
Until you learn this lesson, you’ll just be doing your best imitation of a hamster on a wheel---running round and round but never getting anywhere.
On the other hand, once you begin to understand that the only thing you can control is whether you’ve done your best and inspired those around you to do their best, you will begin to experience something new: Peace.
Peace that is content with the fact that you’ve done your best; and peace that allows God to control the outcome.
It’s the peace that comes from listening to the wise words of my friend’s three-year-old philosopher who says, “Just do your best and forget the rest.”
It’s really all any leader can do…give it all you’ve got and trust God to use what you’ve given Him to advance His kingdom.