Ripple Effects

ripple effect image

I would like to start this post by sharing with you one of the most important and foundational business principles I have learned over the past 13-14 years.  I realize this is not a “business blog” but at times there are lessons I have learned in business that I have also found to have profound applications in other areas of my life.  This is one of those times.  And for the reader who does own and operate a business, I would say that this one principle has the potential to revolutionize your profits and productivity for the rest of your career.  It is the one lesson that I find myself continually dwelling on every single day I work.  However, you should continue to read even if you don’t own a business, because, as you will see, there will be profound life application.  So here it is…

In 1906 there was an Italian economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto who noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He then further developed this revelation when he realized that 20% of his pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.  This lesson/principle went on to become widely known as the 80/20 principle in business and has also been referred to as “Pareto’s Principle”.  I think that nearly everyone who has ever worked in any type of sales position would agree that usually 20% of the sales force generally produces 80% of the sales.  Approximately 20% of my education produced 80% of the results: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  A kindergarten teacher would probably agree that 20% of her kids produce 80% of the chaos in the classroom.  The list could go on and on. The reason why I find myself daily coming back to this principle as a business owner is this….I could easily make a list of 20-30 different things that are part of my job duties as a business owner.  However, there are only 3-4 of those things that are truly income producing activities.  These things represent my 20%.  My goal, as a business owner, is to delegate or sacrifice everything else and focus all of my resources (mainly my time) into those 3-4 things.  You could say that it is not what I have done that has caused my business to grow, but instead, what I have chosen not to do.  So, how does this relate to my personal life?

Several years ago I was reflecting upon this principle as I was going for an afternoon jog and I had a revelation of sorts.  I realized that 80% of my stress, worry, and anxiety were being caused by 20% of the problems in my life.  Actually, it was just 1-2 issues that I needed to fix that were having huge ripple effects throughout every other area of my life!!  These 1-2 root problems were creating or enhancing other problems in nearly every part of my life.  They had to be fixed and they had to be fixed immediately!!  I would be willing to bet that if you listed all of your problems, worries, fears, anxieties, stressors, etc… that you would find the same thing.  There are usually only 1-2 things that need to be dealt with that would absolutely revolutionize the entire course of your life.  This was a great realization for me because although I could have made a list of 10-20 things that I thought needed to be fixed in my life, I realized that I needed to focus all of my effort into just  1 or 2 of them.

So what is your 20% that would alter the entire course of your life?   What are the one or two problems you need to fix or focus on that are having ripple effects throughout almost every other area of your life?  Is it financial?  Is it your marriage?  Is it your weight/health?  Is it alcohol?  Is it a hidden and un-confessed sin?  What is it?  It could be something spiritual or it could be something practical.  My encouragement to you today is this….Fix just one or two things and you will dramatically alter the entire course of your life!!!!

Author: Mike Mazyck

Be on the alert!!

Tonight I listened to Mark Driscoll’s 3rd message in his current series on Ephesians.  I would highly recommend anything by Mark Driscoll but beware that he is not a “tickle your ears” kind of teacher.  He preaches the “whole” word of God.  As I listened I was reminded of something that I have found to be very true in my own walk and felt compelled to share.  Shortly after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days.  During this time was when the famous temptations of Satan came.  The enemy attacked at a time when Jesus was HUNGRY, ISOLATED, and TIRED.  I have found this to be extremely true in my own life.  We must always be aware when our flesh is weak.  Our enemy is not unwise.  His troops are well-trained and have been waging war for thousands of years.  Be on guard!

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1Peter 5:8

I am reminded of the documentaries on the Discovery channel and the National Geographic channel that show the prides of lions hunting in Africa.   How do they choose their prey?  They seek the slow and smaller prey that is isolated from the pack.  Then they seek to isolate them further and attack and devour!   They are smart.  They seek the prey whose flesh is weak and has isolated itself from the pack.  Interesting!

Why we don’t enter His presence- Part 3-” Mud Pie”

crossroads

Man was built to be in continual pursuit.  We are in the pursuit of something at all times.  It seems to me that the chief thing we are all pursuing is our own happiness.  I believe if we truly ask ourselves why we do the things that we do, the answer that lies at the root of nearly every decision we make is the pursuit of our own happiness.  We buy lavish cars and luxury homes because they make us feel good about ourselves and bring us convenience. We pursue money and wealth because they offer peace and security.  We desire to go on vacations because they give us rest and relaxation.  And some even turn to alcohol, drugs, and pornography because they make them feel good.  We are all pursuing the same things….happiness, peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment, etc.  We all seek our own pleasure.   All men are alike in this.  And I believe the fact that we are all in pursuit of these things is a piece of evidence that points to the fact that we were created to need and desire these things.  And if we were created to need these things then we must agree that it is not wrong or sinful to desire and seek after them.  Really, the question we must all ultimately answer is this….Where do we believe we will find these things that our soul desires?  Where should we be seeking?

I would propose to you that both the things of this world AND God offer us happiness and joy and contentment.  We can find contentment and security in money.  We can find some joy in that luxury car and lavish home.  There is rest to be found as we lie on the beach on that vacation.  That new thing we just have to buy will give us some happiness. Drugs and alcohol do feel good!  There would be no addicts if they didn’t. I believe the ultimate issue is one of comparison.  I suppose we could say that we are comparison shopping in some sort of way.  There is the store of this world and the store of God.  Both have made claims to offer what we are seeking. The decision to buy would be easy if one store had none of what it claimed to sell but that’s not the case.  As we have already discussed, both stores will sell us a version of the goods we are after.  The decision would be easy if we could shop in both stores, but that’s not the case.  The word says that “the worries of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18).The question we must ask is this….Which store has the greater goods?  Which goods are of greater value and more satisfying?  This is where we have made our mistake.  I believe we have made one of two fatal errors.  One, we believe that what this world has to offer is better than what He offers.  We simply believe that the store of this world has the greater product.  Or two, we are satisfied too easily.  What I mean by this is that we may, with our rational mind, believe that God has the better product, but it really doesn’t matter because we are currently satisfied with the product we are buying in the store of this world.  At the current time, we are a loyal customer.  Why shop elsewhere? We are content.  Once again, I will quote the great theologian C.S Lewis from his book, The Weight of Glory…

“…it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half –hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased”

John Piper refers to Lewis’s statement in his book Desiring God and says this…

“It is not a bad thing to desire our own good.  In fact, the great problem of human beings is that they are far too easily pleased.  They don’t seek pleasure with nearly the resolve and passion that they should.  And so they settle for mud pies of appetite instead of infinite delight.”

Pascal says it well in his work Pensees…

“There was once in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present.  But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”

 

                So I will say it again.  Either we simply don’t believe that what God offers is better than what this world offers or we are currently satisfied with what we are receiving from the world and therefore we find no compelling reason to shop elsewhere.   At the current time, we are satisfied with our “mud-pie”.  So what does God do?  I will tell you what He does.  He lets us continue to eat our mud-pie.  Just as the father let the prodigal son leave and squander his inheritance.  He lets us continue to shop in this world until we finally realize just how unfulfilled we really are.  He lets us seek after the gods of this world until we find ourselves empty and depressed and alone.  He lets us shop until we find that the gods of this world have left us enslaved.  Enslaved to debt.  Enslaved to our addictions.  Enslaved to our lust for material things.  Enslaved to our worldly ambitions.  In the words of the addict, He lets us hit “rock bottom”.  He is not a God who forces us to shop in His store.  He lets us shop elsewhere until we become so sick, and tired, and weighted down, and overwhelmed, and empty that we decide to come to the One who created us.  He waits to be wanted.  He waits to be needed.  And that is why Jesus said…”Blessed are the poor in spirit.”(Mathew 5:1)  The poor are needy.  The poor have entered the store of the world and realized they came out empty handed.  They realized they were deceived.  The poor gave their money and time to the shopkeeper and came out with nothing in return.  The prodigal came home poor and ashamed.  How blessed are those who realize they are empty and poor and needy.  How blessed are those who have come to the point that the mud-pie no longer satisfies.  They are craving something greater!  Their soul is parched and dying of thirst and it cries out like David in the Psalms… As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God (Psalm 42:1)

                I have found in my own walk with God that there is a direct correlation between my experience with God and my neediness of Him.  I don’t shop in the right store every day.  My wife will certainly attest to that fact.   Many days I wander back into the old store and come out with depression and anger and anxiety.  And as I said, He lets me shop there until I become poor again.  But in those greatest moments of neediness, and by His grace alone, He has allowed me to experience His presence at various moments in my life.  It is in those moments I was able to get just enough of a glimpse of Him to realize that what was to be found in His presence was infinitely greater than what this world has to offer.  In those moments I was alive.  In His presence I am reminded of when I got glasses for the first time as a kid.  I had no idea my vision was blurry and I couldn’t see until I put those glasses on for the first time.  Then I realized what I was missing. That is what His presence is like. You don’t realize you were dead until you have felt what it is like to be alive!

 

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Where are you?

In the beginning, shortly after that fatal snack, God came looking for man.  He walked through the Garden and He called out to Adam. The question God asked was this….”Where are you?”  Adam responded… “I heard the sound of You in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked”

In the end, as man stands before that great throne, it is that same question that will be asked of him.  Where are you?  Either man will stand there afraid and naked and ashamed, just as he was in the beginning, or he will answer back to God and he will say   “I am in Christ, covered by His blood”.  We will be naked and ashamed or we will be clothed in Glory!!  How will the question be answered?  Where are you?

AUTHOR: MIKE MAZYCK