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Succeed Yourself!

There’s no better time than now to succeed yourself! I shared those words with a friend last summer, and I’m amazed at how God used that simple challenge to change his life, and mine. In fact, Arron Chambers and I have committed to writing a book together on that very theme. We know that anyone can do a few simple things to get unstuck and to get moving, even in amazing ways.

I know what it is to be stuck. For several years I came to accept some nagging leg and neck limitations until my wife told me to tell my doctor. The next thing I knew I was in therapy! It was there that I learned a few simple exercises that really helped. Then a month ago I finally got tired of doing the same routine at the gym and signed up with a trainer. Once again, I learned a few more helpful exercises that are both humbling me and helping me.

I’m not expecting perfection, but I am disciplining myself for improvements through:
  • Daily exercise enhancements
  • Daily chair time for deeper reading
  • Daily recording of key tasks to be accomplished and celebrated 

I’m not seeking to do a lot differently during the coming year, just more of the good things that already enhance my life and effectiveness. One of those good things is launching two new soul care groups. I never cease to be amazed at how hungry leaders are for deeper soul care connections. Unfortunately, most leaders are living under an avalanche of urgencies and find it easy to postpone the most important things. Getting started on the right stuff is always the hardest part.


Newton’s second law of thermodynamics certainly rings true: A body at rest tends to stay at rest – and a body in motion tends to remain in motion. Once I’ve begun it’s a lot easier to continue. That’s true for everything from organizing my desk to working out at the gym. These simple things are easy to do, but they’re also easy not to do. Doing simple things daily, or at least consistently, is the key. What are the simple things you’ve been delaying? I’ve found that actually writing them down is the first step in getting good things done. Simple things aren’t always easy, but simple things wisely chosen can be amazingly transformational. 

There’s no better time than now to make some healthy determinations. We’ve all got our list of laments, stuff we wish hadn’t happened during the past year, as well as things we wish had happened. Some churches regularly encourage those in worship to acknowledge their sins of commission and of omission, “Lord, forgive us for what we have done, and what we have left undone.”  Those are good things to confess. 

What “good things” have you left undone? As we age, we tend to have far more regrets over what we failed to do than over what we actually did! Well, we can’t change the past, but by God’s grace, we can help to reshape our future.  As Solomon observed, “. . . if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22b) 

Sometimes “great” is the enemy of “good!” Instead of moaning about our inability to climb Mount Everest or author a runaway bestseller, what if we just started to take daily walks or send encouraging handwritten notes? We all have the capacity of doing more good stuff. When I told the guys in one of my Covenant Groups that I had signed up for six sessions with a trainer at Gold’s Gym, one of the guys decided to do the same thing in his hometown. Neither of us has any dreams of competing with the physical fitness pros; we are simply competing with ourselves in hopes of seeing some improvements.

I love to make fresh starts, and this I know . . . starting is usually the hardest part. So, knowing what you know now if you were to “succeed yourself” where would you begin . . . or begin again? As Anthony of the Desert said, “Every morning I must say again to myself, today I start.”
  • What good habits would you start in your marriage?
  • What good disciplines would you start in your finances?
  • What good rhythms would you start in your devotions?
  • What good opportunities would you start in your profession?
Good deeds are often undervalued in this life but highly rewarded in the next. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says The Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:14)

Happy habits are the key to a Happy New Year. There’s no better time to launch some good stuff and to start some new determinations than right now. “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will reap a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord that He may come and shower righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

Grace and Peace,
Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Soul Care Covenant Groups
The Center for Church Leadership