Give Yourself Permission

3632248789_c649ca3718_mDo you ever feel guilty about things you're doing or even not doing?  The impetus could be related to your diet, your lifestyle, your use of money.  The key question is this: is guilt really a productive response?

In most cases the answer is no.  Guilt is sometimes a result of doing something truly wrong.  Unfortunately, it can also be a false sign of over-concern for what others think about you.  And that spells a big fat waste of time.

Let me explain.  If you earn a good salary and can afford a decent car but feel guilty about it every time you sit in the driver's seat, it's either a symptom of a conscience that's right on the money or an over-scrupulous mindset that is worrying more about what others think about you.

This could also apply to the area of time management.  Suppose you actually put your family first (as promoted even by the management gurus at Manager Tools) and leave work at a reasonable time but still feel guilty.  Leave that emotion at the door and enjoy your kids.  If someone else doesn't appreciate your sense of priorities it's actually their problem, not yours.

The spiritual life is not immune to these kinds of internal debates.  Rather than beat yourself up over spending 15 minutes in prayer to start your day rather than an hour, be thankful that you're setting the stage for a great day with God in mind.  Most people drag themselves out of bed and then head to work without even thinking about God.

Two final thoughts.  Pastor Rick Warren has often said that he felt much freer when he accepted the fact that people were always disappointed with him. As a famous pastor, someone was always upset with him. Someone always wanted a better sermon, more time with sick congregants, more public speeches.  When he just accepted that reality, life got easier.

I can relate to this as a school leader.  If I get to work too early, I'm obsessed with work.  If I get to work too late, I'm lazy.  If I delegate too much, I'm too hands off.  If I don't delegate enough, I'm a micromanager.  You can't win if you're only concerned with what others think of you.  Michael Hyatt has this to share about what the Bible says about leadership and delegation.

If you're always living for those who want more from you, you might be missing some key moments under your nose.  On the flip side, living with purpose is immensely wise.  As Rick Warren says, "There are three ways you can live your life. You can waste it. You can spend it. Or you can invest it. We call those who waste their livesfoolish. We call those who spend their lives average. We call those who invest their lives leaders." (Ministry Toolbox)

In closing, let me add that it's a good idea to give yourself permission to be imperfect.  As author Dan Pink notes in The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, momentum trumps talent.  Cultivate a good day which then leads to other good days and you'll end up with a pretty impressive track record.

As a follow up, I'm posting one of Dan's talks on the topic of motivation- enjoy!

*photo by SIR poseyal