Certain expectations for effort

By Dave Henning / September 15, 2023

“When we’ve put in the work, we have certain expectations of what will be produced. . . .  We want to know that if we put in the effort, we’ll have something to show for it.  But when you pull in the nets and don’t see anything, how does that make you feel?  How’s that working for ya?  And my wife would tell you that “meh” isn’t an acceptable answer.”- Kyle Idleman

“When [Jesus] finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.’ “- Luke 5:4-5 (NIV)

As Kyle Idleman moves on in Chapter 2 of When Your Way Isn’t Working, he notes that Simon Peter could have benefitted from the Wheel of Emotions on his refrigerator.  In Luke 5 Jesus tells Peter to put out his nets into deep water.  But Peter responds that he’s already tried.  He worked hard all night and caught nothing.

Certainly, Peter acknowledges, his way failed to work.  However, he’d put in a great deal of effort.  And, Kyle guesses, we’ve also experienced this dynamic.  Therefore, Pastor Idleman explains, in the next few chapters he identifies four primary emotions that show up when your way isn’t working.  Those four emotions: discouragement, fatigue, frustration, and anxiety.

In addition, the author understands, it’s possible to feel this combination of emotions to some degree on any given day.  Because, Pastor Idleman thinks, on any given day we experience the reality of our way not working.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter whether the stakes are relatively low or undeniably high.  You still can expect these four emotions to show up.  Sometimes these emotions progress from one emotion to the next.  Yet, at other times, those four emotions come all at once.

So, when you consistently experience some combination of these emotions, that’s a pretty clear indicator that your way isn’t working.  And overlooking them, like ignoring a warning light on your car dashboard, only works for a while.  At some point you’ll find yourself pulling over to the side of the road.  Smoke coming out of your engine.

Today’s question: What certain expectations do you desire for your effort?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the September Short Meditation, “In Christ alone my hope is found”

Tomorrow’s blog: Humble submission – the beginning”

About the author

Dave Henning

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