Sometimes our honed skills can be our greatest limitation.
I heard Steven Spielberg once say in response to an interviewer’s question, “Why did it take you so long to make the movie ‘Schindler’s list’?”. Spielberg’s answer was, “I wasn’t mature enough to make the movie”. In a way, he was saying that he needed to grow to where he wanted to go.
Imagine you have climbed a mountain. Upon reaching the top, you see a foreboding gorge in front of you separating you from the next higher mountain you want to reach. You realize that perhaps the skills, talents and abilities that got you this far may not get you to that mountain – That something fundamental has to improve or change in the way you climb mountains if you want to go any further. In fact, the tools, gifts, talents, and abilities we used to scale the last mountain can actually prevent us from conquering the next mountain we face. Our past methods can become immortalized and inoculate us against the need to adapt to future challenges.
“THERE” is the place where God wants you to be – Where you need to be – Where your next level of growth, breakthrough, and success is. There are also hindrances in our lives that can keep us from traversing the distance to the other side. What keeps us from going THERE are habits, character flaws, attitudes, and even great skills that might have worked in the past but will no longer work in the present or future.
For instance, being a good violin player is not going to get you over the canyon and to the other Mountain. Nor is being a good swimmer, or champion skateboarder. Even being a good mountain climber may not get you over there, because what is required now is to be a great mountain climber. And a great mountain climber with heart. This is where character comes in.
Have you ever known people whose talent got them very far, but their character flaws prevented them from going “there”? A person can have an incredible gift to organize, but a temper that keeps sabotaging their relationships. Someone can have a golden voice, but a life-controlling problem that continues to disable their personal momentum. Or a great leader who can’t seem to control their sexual appetite.
"For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
It is said that Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. He was also immoral, irresponsible, and extremely vain. He wanted to be hailed not just as a great architect, and not even as the greatest architect then living, but as the greatest architect who had ever lived. Could it be that PRIDE kept Wright from being truly great? From negotiating the chasm to where character exceeds skill? And yet that is exactly what happens when our abilities outpace our integrity and we see these talents as the pinnacle of who we are. That pinnacle takes us to the edge of a crevasse separating where we are from where we need to be. We know something is missing, and that it has to be more than skill that gets us to the other side. We must grow to where we want to go.
The rich young ruler in the Bible is a perfect example of this. He asked Jesus, “What must I do to be a disciple”? Jesus answered, “Have you done A, B, and C?”. He answered, “I’ve done all these things from my youth”. Jesus’ response to him dealt with character. “You lack one thing, go sell everything you have and give to the poor and then you will have riches in the kingdom”. But as the story went, the Bible says that he went away sad because he had many possessions. It is obvious that the rich young ruler had acquired great skills not only in producing wealth, but also in exercising religion. But those skills would not get him to the other side. What was required of him was something more elemental, something more personal – The surrender of his heart. He had to be willing to grow to where he wanted to go.
“What matters, what Heaven desires and Hell fears, is precisely that further step, out of our depth, out of our own control.” — from “A Slip of the Tongue” (The Weight of Glory) Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17
In my next blog, I will share telling signs that you need to go “There”.