Posts Tagged ‘potential


Between the Now and the Not Yet

“You’ve got POTENTIAL!”

It’s a phrase that sounds positive, encouraging, and bright. But anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of this will recognize it for the curse it truly is: a phrase fiendishly designed to suck the wind right out of your sails. 

The only thing worse is when they add the word “real,” as in, “You’ve got real potential!”

In my life I have heard the word “potential” from coaches, from teachers, from guidance counselors, from youth pastors, from bosses, and – sadly – from my parents now and then, too. 

I know each of the people who drove that lovely spike into my heart meant well. They meant me to hear something like, “I see great things ahead for you.” 

They wanted to inspire me to knuckle down and turn that vast potential into reality. Their hope was to affirm positive qualities TODAY that could be molded into glowing accomplishments TOMORROW.

What they didn’t understand was what I heard. What I heard when they said this was, “You’re not there yet. You’ve got a long way to go. As you are here today, you don’t quite measure up. There is a chance you could be something someday, but not today.” 

And of course, at the age of eight or nine, they were absolutely right! At fifteen or sixteen, even. Or thirty-six. Frankly, each of us is a perpetual work in progress until the day the life force departs our body. 

But I firmly believe that it does a person no earthly good to tell them their entire worth is to be found down the road somewhere… in a distant, immaterial future. 

For one thing, that approach goes dramatically against God’s word. 

For proof, we can listen to the words of the Psalmist, marveling at the utter miracle of God’s creation of human beings. Listen; “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5, NRSV).

Or we can read Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus when he reminded them (and us), “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NRSV). 

In other words, it is not what we DO that matters to God; it is who we ARE in Christ Jesus.

To be clear, I have never been a fan of “participation trophies” … the lavishing of praise and accolades on folks for doing nothing more than showing up and breathing in rhythm. Therein lies the seeds of the entitled mindset, IMHO.

My prayer today is for each of us to find a way to relate to other people the same way God relates to us; loving and affirming them (us) in the fullness of who they (we) are RIGHT NOW, and yet reminding them (us) of our calling to grow, blossom, and become something higher and better…

… something like a “new creation,” maybe. 

Hmmm… seems like I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before.

Abundant blessings;


Best Foot Forward

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…  you are familiar with all my ways.”
Psalm 139:1-3, NRSV

Chatting over the fenceI had a nice backyard chat with Neighbor Dave the other day. It was my first time to meet Neighbor Dave since we moved here in November.

Don’t worry… Neighbor Dave stayed on his side of the fence and I stayed on mine. We were at least six feet apart the entire time we chatted.

As it turns out, Neighbor Dave (can I just call him Dave from now on? Thanks) just moved here to Fort Collins a month before we did. He and his wife came from California.

Like Joan and me, Dave and his wife are recently retired.

It was a lovely chat. Dave and I each talked about the little projects we are doing on our houses, the things we like about the area, our families, and our sheer delight at the nice, warm weather that was allowing us to get some much-needed yard work done.

When I finally broke it off with my new best buddy, I went inside and told Joan about the great neighbor I had just met and how cool it was that he lived just across our back fence. I probably even said something like, “When all this is over, we’ll have to have Dave and his wife over for dinner.”

And because I had my best foot forward and avoided picking my nose for the ENTIRE time we talked, I am sure Dave went inside and said something very similar to his wife.

That is one reason I like being “the new kid in town.” Every relationship is new. Every person you meet starts out thinking the very best of you. The only thing they know about you is the friendly neighbor face you were holding up as you talked.

They know nothing about all your little quirks and idiosyncrasies… your phobias, fears, prejudices, and flaws. Your bad habits and neuroses and weird notions are utterly invisible to them.

You walk away from your chat, shaking your head and thinking – as I often do, “If they only knew…”

And then – if you happened to think back on the words of Psalm 139 at that precise moment – you recalled that God DOES know all that stuff about you. God knows all the dirt and grime about you there is to know.

In fact – God being God and all – God probably knows stuff about you that you have somehow managed to forget.

God knows it all; the Good… the Bad… and the truly Ugly.

And yet… even with all that super-detailed knowledge… God loves you more than you can possibly understand.

Here is the really shocking news: God’s regard for you is even HIGHER than your high regard for Neighbor Dave. It is that high for two very good reasons:

  • First, because God – through his Son Jesus – has wiped your entire slate of screw-ups clean, and
  • Second, because God knows – far better than you do – what you are truly capable of.

Is that cool or WHAT!

The challenge for most of us is to be able to humbly receive God’s magnificent, unconditional love and then to go out and actually live INTO the lofty vision God has of us.

It is entirely possible that the better Neighbor Dave gets to know me, the less enthused he will be about deepening our relationship.

But Praise God that will never be true about HIM!


Abundant blessings;

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