Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows… let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
-Galatians 6:7; 9
A few days ago, I was in a meeting with my friend Debby Albrecht. Debby’s a lady I respect greatly and appreciate having in my life, and I’m sure that many of you who know her feel exactly the same. We spent most of the meeting talking about how kids and student ministries were going at the Highland Campus and now we were drawing to a close. And as has become (somewhat) customary, when we end our time together, Debby will always ask for ways that she can pray and support me and our campus, and I decided to open up about a few difficulties I was experiencing. As is normally the case, Debby met that with some very timely and helpful encouragement, which I really appreciated.
But in the midst of those words, Debby used a phrase that I have used before, but had since forgotten. I was telling her about how I was struggling to find some clarity on next steps for myself and leading our campus in a few different areas, and also how I was struggling to stay motivated through the unsexy, slow, and steady plodding that often comprises leadership. In her response, Debby said, “Wes, sometimes we just need to do the next right thing.”That really clicked with me. As a leader, I may not feel like I have direction for as far into the future as I’d like. I may feel like I’m in a waiting room or a holding pattern. But generally, I usually know the next right thing to do. I may not have the whole path in front of me, but I know the next step. And while that next right thing may not feel like it accomplishes much, put together with more next right things, it builds something.
Some of you know my story with my weight and weight loss. Around this time two years ago, I weighed nearly 350 pounds and just hated my body and honestly, hated my life. But I decided to make a change. I decided to eat a little healthier. I decided to go to the gym as often as I could. I decided to pick up some more healthy habits (like running, for example). And now, almost 100 pounds later, I feel so much better. And looking back on that experience, I don’t remember one particular workout that stands out above the rest. I don’t remember a time where I weighed in and just magically lost 20 pounds. What I do remember is the commitment that every single day, I was going to work out. I was going to eat right. I was going to show up. I was going to do the next right thing for my body. And over time, that’s made a big difference.
I don’t know what you are facing in your story today. Some of us feel trapped in marriages where we’ve lost the love. Others of us are feeling “on the rocks” with God and just overall distant from him. Some of us are addicted, hurt, angry, or struggling in circumstances that might feel beyond our control. I don’t know what your specific story is or where your journey has taken you. But what I do know is this: most of us have a sense of the next right thing to do. You can’t heal your marriage in one day, but you can make a commitment to make the most of your opportunities to serve your spouse today
. You can’t conquer addiction in a single leap, but you can tell someone about it. You can go to a meeting. When we feel distant from God, we don’t generally recover things all at once, but we can
discipline ourselves to keep praying, keep studying, and to keep showing up every day, even when we don’t feel like it. We can write a better story, but we do so one page, one word, one letter at a time.
Generally our stories change not because of one magical moment, but because we did one next right thing, then another next right thing, and then another next right thing after that. Over a day or a week, it doesn’t feel like much. But over a few months or even a few years, it makes a huge difference. Even in the moments where we aren’t sure of the next right thing, chances are we have people around us who can offer wisdom on that. And as we discipline ourselves to sow those wise choices, I truly believe that we reap the great things that come as a result.