May 102015 0 Responses

Thank God for Your Limitations

Sometimes I dream of what life would be without limitations.

What if someone put a winning lottery ticket in my mailbox? (That would be the only way I could win the lottery since I don’t play.) No longer would I have worry about getting a pay check, paying bills, or lacking some resource because of insufficient funds.

What would life be like without the constant time demands of a 9–5? And why do they call it 9 to 5? I don’t know anyone who truly works those few hours. Imagine the amount of truly meaningful work we could get done if we didn’t have to give so much of our time to other people and their often trivial demands.

What could I accomplish if my weaknesses became strengths? I often think of the way I limit myself because of inabilities, fears, and insecurities. I wonder what could happen if I had another person’s outgoing nature or another person’s charm or another person’s mind. (See: Never Hire Someone Who Blames the Umpire)

Everywhere I look, there are limitations.

At work.

At home.

Within myself.

Within my community.

Limitations are everywhere.

But what if our opinions about our limitations are wrong?

“The worst thing that could ever happen to you is for someone to write one check to pay off all your debt.” We were having lunch when a friend made this statement to me. I nearly choked on my hamburger. I thought he was crazy.

But instead of telling him he was ridiculous, I calmly asked what he meant.

He explained. (See: Do the Work)

“Your debt forces you to make decisions. You are frugal with every dollar because you don’t want to do anything to threaten the financial life of your church. Your debt is reasonable and prudent, but it also puts limitations on your budget that drive you insane. But the insanity is a blessing because it forces you to make wiser choices.”

I had never considered the idea. But he was right. If someone wrote a million dollar check and erased our debt (I would gladly accept the check, by the way) our budget wouldn’t be as tight. The temptation would be to ease the budgeting process, loosen the reins, and not be as frugal with our money. It’s a dangerous temptation.

Limitations are frustrating. Without a doubt they hinder us from doing meaningful things. Paying a percentage of our church’s budget to debt service prevents us from spending that money in other areas—and they are all good areas. On a nearly daily basis, our financial team is forced to decide which of three meaningful ministries gets a dollar while the other two do not.

Time, money, and resource limitations hinder some things.

But they liberate others.

Limitations often provide the tension necessary for good decisions to occur. Without the limitations, our choices may not be born from such wisdom, insight, discernment, and concentration. The limitations force creativity, reflection, and choices. They make us prioritize. Without the limitations we would likely not do the same amount of work.

Your limited paycheck forces you to decide where to spend your money. While you can dream of having an endless bank account, you should be grateful for the boundary your paycheck gives you. Choose what is important and spend your money there.

The 24 hours in a day are a blessing. We aren’t going to live forever. We have enough time to do something important, but not a second to waste. The boundary of time should be a blessing because it should give every minute a hint of urgency.

As a leader (or parent or spouse) you are limited. There is only one of you. You can’t do every job. You can’t attend every meeting. You can’t be everywhere. This limit is a blessing. Without the limitations, there would be no need to make tough decisions, empower other people, or discern what is important versus what is trivial. With the limitations, those decisions are vital. The future of your company and career depend upon you making wise choices.

Limitations are great excuse makers. We can look at what is limited and assume those are the reasons we aren’t experiencing the success we desire. But they are simply that—excuses. (See: You Always Have an Excuse)

While our limitations might have some negative consequences, they also are a tremendous blessing. They are forcing us to make better decisions.

Thank God for your limitations.

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