How many times in the 60 years I served as a preacher/counselor, can I recall listening to the story of a person’s life? The final question was always the same, “What do you think I ought to do about it?” How easy it would be just to spell out a few scriptures and give some snap judgments and consider the case closed.
I now confess, “I don’t have the foggiest idea of what you should do.” Then my friend with teary eyes would say, “but . . . but . . . I thought you would just tell me what I should do?” After another long pause I would restate the real secret to the conflicts the person was having. “Just what do you plan to do about it?” They look so disappointed as if I had the power to just wave a magic wan over their head and “Presto”, all their troubles would just fade away. The anxiety and disappointment was obvious. Again, I repeated the question verbatim, “Just what do you plan to do about it?”
When I was a kid and had experienced trouble at school, my father was notified and now “I was going home to face the music.” All the way home I was reciting the reasons why I was innocent and others were guilty. Dr. Phil would say, “What you are unwilling to admit you cannot correct.” At the time I wasn’t interested in Dr. Phil or any of his remedies. The deck was stacked against me and the switch was being prepared.
When facing a problem dad never did say, “Why did you do it, boy?” That question always receives a “brain-damaged answer – “I don’t know”. My father always believed in a fair trial before the hanging. After hearing my side of the story dad said, “Well son, just what are you going to do about it?” That question also receives an “F” on the chart of successful communications from son to father. “I don’t know”, I said and I looked at the floor. He always had a way of putting the ball back on my side of the court. He pressed the issue; “What could you have done about it?” I looked down at the floor again and shook my head and whimpered, “I don’t know!” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Think, boy, think!”
After a long moment that seemed like an hour, I said, “Well, I could have done this . . . or that . . . or the other . . . naming options that finally came to mind. In all I came up with five alternatives. I was amazed at my own intelligence and how smart I really was. He counted them off again, naming them one by one and then said, “What do you think would have happened if you had done this one or that one or the other“, naming all five. I pondered each one and gave an answer as to what I thought would have occurred. Now he is ready for the kill. “Which of these do you think you could have used and avoided the trouble you’re in?” This time I looked at the ceiling and felt like I was convicting myself. Then I pondered all five, as if I was in a deep well of thought. I picked number three.
From the very beginning he wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do – Think for myself and be responsible! The conclusion was simple. “When you face this problem again you won’t have to make the same mistake as you did the first time.” This lesson of personal decision and accountability to think before you act has been a guiding light through the years. “Think, boy, think!” No one can ever correct a mistake that he is unwilling to admit.
No let’s get down to the problems you face in your life. Get paper and pen and begin. List the main issues you have, one through five. Remember; work is the basic answer to worry and action stops anxiety every time. Work on all of them in order, just one at a time. The results will be amazing. One lady told me, “My house is just a total wreck; what should I do?” I said, “Bend over lady, bend over.”
Starting is the most important decision you’ll ever make about dealing with problems. “A job begun is half done.” “Think, boy, think!”
One day, the preacher came by and said, “Hey Jake, that’s a sure beautiful garden that you and the Lord have made.” Jake looked up from his hoe and said, “Thank you preacher, but you should have seen it when the Lord had it all by himself!”
The apostle Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
Write them down and you decide. Then start. I guarantee it. You’ll make progress and gain strength in the process. This is how we take responsibility for our own life. No one has the answers to your problems. They are locked inside of your heart.
“Play ball”, the umpire says. Step up to the plate. Get a firm grip on the bat and hit a homer!