Coat of Arms excerpt

If there seems to be 'dead air' when we're together, we can: import anointed teaching, tell Jesus how much we love Him, or pray for other people and be a partner in the unseen realm. A Coat of Arms can help us to be focused and practical about what our lives are about or else our life can be wasted energy.

3/22/2002

What is a Coat of Arms?

Back in the olden days, there was something called a “Coat of Arms.” Everybody knows what that is, right? Do you know what a Coat of Arms is?

If you were a nobleman or a scholar, part of the Aristocracy or Upper Crust, you would have had a Coat of Arms—which was similar to a logo. We see many logos all around us everyday. The McDonald’s logo is the golden arches. Arby’s logo is the orange cowboy hat. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but most flags are filled with colorful pictures and designs. The United States flag has 13 stripes because of the 13 original colonies and 50 stars because of the 50 states. It is red, white, and blue because those are our colors. Brazil’s flag has the colors yellow, green, and white. The flag of Indiana is mostly blue with a torch and yellow stars. Flags always have all these different symbols on them. But if you ask somebody who knows about flags (and there isn’t anybody), but if you ever find somebody who knows—everything on a flag has some particular meaning—right? This hatchet is because…, this little guy with a mustache is because…, this apple is because…, this porch is because…, and this 19 is because…there is always some reason for the symbols and colors. Well, a Coat of Arms was like that too.

If you go back into Europe, deep in the hills of Italy or wherever you want to go, you will find families and people—aristocracy, scholars, and noblemen—who in many cases had their own Coat of Arms. They were essentially logos that meant something. A Coat of Arms would be filled with colorful pictures and designs like a full moon or a lion’s head or various other things. If you were to ask somebody in that family (at least the person who designed it—probably no one after that) what that Coat of Arms meant, they would tell you what each symbol represented. “Well this full moon means this, and this lion means courage. These are the qualities that our family wants to have. These are the things we stand for.” A scholar would have, perhaps, a test tube and a fulcrum on one part of his Coat of Arms, and some scientific apparatus on another part. A scientist in the olden days, much like the scholar, would also have different pictures and symbols that represented who he was in his world.

Don’t Just Drift

The reason why I brought the illustration of a Coat of Arms is that I think it is fairly important that each of us have some sort of idea of what we’re doing with our lives. People from long ago knew what their families represented. They knew what their countries represented. They knew the State of Indiana represented this, and these are the things that are important to us. In the Supreme Court building is a sculpture of a woman and in one of her hands she holds a small statue of “Justice” balancing the scales, and in the CIA lobby it says, “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” All of this doesn’t mean anything to them any more, but at one time it did. Their lives were built around a concept and they were supposed to reflect some qualities of the decision they made—this is what I stand for. If you don’t make some decisions about what you are going to stand for, do you know what will happen? You are going to drift. You are just going to react to whichever way the wind is blowing. What does Paul say about the wind blowing? He says that children are blown around by every wind of teaching. “Oh, that’s exciting; that’s neat.” They’re just blown around by every circumstance, every situation, and every hormone shift. Spiritual babies are just blown around all the time.

Now, how do you think a sailboat can get across the ocean or even across the lake for that matter? Is the wind always blowing the same direction? Sailboats have moveable sails, a rudder, and what else? They use a little bit of wisdom with how they control the boat. With wisdom it is possible to effectively sail directly into the wind or in any direction the pilot wishes the boat to go. They know where they want to go and use the rudder and sail to make the best attempt to go that direction. If the wind is going straight their direction, they put the whole sail up to catch as much wind as they can without turning the boat over or driving the bow under water because they want to use the whole sail. If the wind is coming from the side, they’ll set the sail to catch the wind like an airplane wing and tack on vectors perpendicular to the wind. Left to itself, a sailboat will drift whatever way the wind is blowing or take a bizarre tack that will likely lead nowhere. So, you have to know where you are going and make it a point to go that direction. Then, instead of being tossed everywhere the wind wants to go, you put some thought into it and use the wind to your advantage, sailing in the direction you want to go. But you have to know where you are going.

That’s why these families in the aristocracies, the universities, and the nations made some choices about who they were and how they were going to govern the country. These families, universities, and nations were founded and based on a set of principles, and then they tried to bounce every decision they made off of those principles. Again, it doesn’t mean anything to them now necessarily, but it did at one time.

The Constitution is a set of principles saying, “We really don’t think we ought to do this. And we really do think we ought to do these kinds of things. And every other law is going to be bounced off of these principles. We are going to use this as our crest, as our Coat of Arms, as our flag to say, ‘This is who we are, and this is what we’re going to do. Everything is going to be weighed against our Coat of Arms. And if this decision or action doesn’t fit with our Coat of Arms—bag it. We don’t want it. If it does fit with what we stand for, then put the sail up all the way and let’s catch the whole wind and go with that.’” But there is a decision made on the front end of “Who am I?” Otherwise, you are just blown about by every wind. That’s what has happened in Columbia, Albania, and in a lot of countries where there is total chaos. They don’t know who they are; they don’t know who they want to be when they grow up. They choose this government for three months and that government for six months—there is no leadership. There are no guidelines for who they want to be. “Do we want to be communists? I don’t know. What’s a communist? Let’s try it.” They just don’t have any idea. So, what happens? You walk down a street in a country like that and you get mugged; you get shot or murdered. And there are no laws to protect you anymore because no one knows exactly what is right or wrong. They don’t know what they stand for. They don’t know why they are alive. They don’t know why they exist. There’s no channel for their actions, for their decisions.

Well, most of you guys have become Christians, and you have decided that Jesus Christ is going to be your channel. The Guy that walks on water, the Guy who raises people from the dead, the Guy who speaks and the mountains crumble—“I think I’ll let Him be my channel. Otherwise, I’m just flipping a coin—I’m just like a child blown about in the wind. I think I’ll let Jesus decide exactly who I want to be when I grow up. And who He is—that’s who I want to be.” He left you an example that you should follow in His steps. Anyone that claims to be in Him must walk as He walked. So He plowed out the turf and said, “This is the way. Walk ye in it. This is it.” “There’s a way that seems right to a man, but it leads to death.” If it feels good, don’t do it. That’s exactly the opposite of what the world says. The world says, “If it feels good—do it!” If it feels good—don’t do it because the way that seems right to a man—that way leads to death.

So, what are you going to gage your life by if it’s not by what feels good? It’s going to be by what Jesus Christ taught. “If you love me, you will obey Me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” There is no hope except for walking as He walked and making your decisions based on what He says. “What am I going to believe?” What did Jesus say? You can answer the question. “What is the Church supposed to be? What did God say? I’ll do that.” “What is my life supposed to look like? How am I as a child supposed to be? How am I as a parent supposed to be?” Well there are answers to these questions. You don’t have to be like a child—like an 11 year old—blown around all the time saying, “I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.” No, God said how it needs to be, and the real issue is: have we put in the effort to find out what He said? That’s where it falls down. It’s not that He doesn’t have answers; it is that I haven’t bothered to find out the answers yet and then embrace them enough to walk that way. If I walk His way, there is Life there. The road is narrow and few will be those who find it. But there is a road. His name is Jesus.

What is Your Life About? (Moneybags and Bird Watching)

So, back to the crest, to the Coat of Arms, to the flag, to the colors. Those guys knew what their lives were going to be about. They knew what their country was going to be about. The constitution, the flag, all these emblems and representations, are all ways of saying, “Here is who we want to be as a country.” “Here is who we want to be as a family.” “Here is who we want to be as a university. Let’s put it on our logo, our emblem.” “Here is who I want to be as a scholar. Here is what is important to me. These are the tools of my trade.”

Now, say that you’re a scholar in the sciences of electricity and when you get up in the morning you decide to spend the morning playing racquetball, and in the afternoon you take a long nap, and then right before dinner maybe you go for a walk and look at the birds. Finally, you eat a big dinner, watch a little television, and then go to bed. Guess what? You’re not a scholar. You’re a lazy bum. Take the scholarly emblems off of your crest. Take them off of your logo. Take them off of your Coat of Arms. Forget all of the electrical apparatuses on your crest because you’re a lazy bum. That’s what you are. If there is any way to depict a lazy bum—a guy lying in bed with zzzzz’s coming out of his mouth then you should make that your logo, because you are a lazy bum and you’re not going anywhere in life. Okay?

That is why deciding what your life is about and making choices that reflect that is so important. There is something about a crest, something about a logo, something about a Coat of Arms, a flag, and a constitution that says that I’m not going to be like a child blown around by every circumstance and mood. Every time I feel a little drowsy, it’s okay to take a nap. And every time I’m a little moody, it’s okay to go out and listen to the birds sing. Who cares if I DO ANYTHING with my life. No! I’m not going to think that way. I have a life. I have a mission. I have a purpose. I’m going to decide what I’m going to do with my life, and I’m going to do it. I’m going to be up against the odds. I’m going to be up against fatigue. I’m going to be up against my own limitations. I’m going to be up against insult and injury from critics from the outside. I’m going to be up against my own physical failures of illness and age and other sorts of things. But this is my crest. This is what I’m going to do with my life. I am going to have some things that I’m going to do—that my life stands for.

So, the choices that I make about my naps and my bird watching are going to be related to what’s on my crest—what’s on my Coat of Arms. What is it that I want to be and what’s going to guide my path? I don’t want to be like a child blown around. There are seven billion lazy, worthless people already. I don’t want to be one of those. I want my life to mean something. I’m not going to be blown around by my hormones, by my laziness, by my fears, or by peer pressure. I’m going to let something else guide me. Now what is that going to be? Well, let’s see. Wealth, fame and fortune—wrong! That doesn’t do anything for anybody. People that live for those things commit suicide at age 42. They are on drugs and end up killing themselves at age 35. The vast majorities of people that attain wealth, fame, and fortune will be very quick to tell you that those things mean nothing. They thought it was going to mean something, and it didn’t. Solomon was very clear about that. It was futility. It was worthless.

So, if wealth, fame, and fortune aren’t what life is about—what IS going to be on your Coat of Arms? If it’s not a bag of money and a movie star picture—what is going to be on your Coat of Arms? What are you going to decide? Nothing? Is your Coat of Arms going to be blank? Duh! Is that how you are going to live your life? Or are you going to decide what you want on your Coat of Arms, the substance of what your life is going to be about that makes some sense? What is my life about? What am I going to contribute? Therefore the decisions that I make about my naps, and my bird watching, and my racquetball, and my conversations with people, and what I read and don’t read, and look at and don’t look at…is going to be “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not on my Coat of Arms. I’m not going to do that. That’s wasted energy. Maybe that’s on somebody else’s Coat of Arms, but it’s not on mine. I’m not doing that.” I have to discriminate somehow and make choices about who I am and what’s important for me.

Jesus—The Center of Our Coat of Arms

Now we, as followers of Jesus, have decided that right on the center of our Coat of Arms, regardless of whatever else might be there, right dead center on the Coat of Arms consuming the vast majority of space is Jesus Christ. The road is narrow and few will be those who will choose to put Him on their Coat of Arms and then live like it. But a few people will be those that find it.

With Jesus being central on your Coat of Arms, there might be some other things on your Coat of Arms too. There’s a place for learning music, for learning art, and for learning carpentry. There’s a place for learning languages, history, economics, calculus, and physics. There’s a place for those things, but they are little tiny things. You better not have very many of those little tiny things because you won’t get any of them done. And they better not be big things because there is only one person that’s allowed to be big on your Coat of Arms. However, it’s okay to have two, three, or four little things on there and then discriminate. Choose those things. Pursue those things. Kate and I were talking a little bit about this today. It’s all right to pursue that little tiny German book and to do it valiantly—as long as it stays tiny. You can do it consistently and persistently, rather than erasing it today and putting it back tomorrow and then erasing it the next day and then putting it back the next. Whatever your hand finds to do—do it! Put some strength into it. That’s not a problem. Don’t put your hand to the plow and look back. Have a few little things and one central thing. That’s fine. The little things on each of our Coat of Arms will be a different for each of us. That’s the color on God’s canvas, the painting of the Body of Christ—that’s a beautiful thing. There is no problem with that. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

All that to say, you better know what your life is about. That’s my point. Don’t let your canvas be blank. Don’t let your Coat of Arms just be whitewashed with nothingness. And don’t let it be consumed with anything other than Jesus Christ as central. The road is narrow and if anything else is central on your Coat of Arms, if you allow anything other than Jesus to determine the way you choose to live, and the way you make your decisions for your attitudes, your conversations, your eyes, your heart, your mind, if anything else moves to that central place, that largest place—then you are on the broad road that leads to destruction. Simple fact. That’s how Jesus put it.

Pursue Excellence

So basically, know what you’re about. Be focused about that. Do your tiny little things on your Coat of Arms, your logo, your flag. Do them with excellence. That’s a good thing. There’s no problem with that. But be focused enough to know what your three or four things are and do them well. Don’t be jealous of anybody else’s three or four areas that they are pursuing with excellence. Just do your three or four well, and you’ll contribute to their life in time, and they will to yours. Make sure the main thing that’s central stays central, and make sure your sails aren’t just up flapping around whichever way the wind blows. Make sure you know what’s on your Coat of Arms so that you can catch the wind and let it drive you exactly to your goal—without zigzagging and covering twice as many miles across the Atlantic as you needed to, never to reach your destination because you ran out of food. You could have made it, but you were too busy getting distracted with bird watching and racquetball, which wasn’t even on your Coat of Arms. However, just because there’s no racquetball on my Coat of Arms doesn’t mean I could never play, but I better be very careful about what I focus on because there isn’t much room on a Coat of Arms after Jesus takes the majority of it. There isn’t much room left on it, and there aren’t many hours in a day to pursue these things. So choose carefully, but choose. Don’t let your Coat of Arms be blank—like a child blown in every direction.

Half Baked

Being clear about what is on my Coat of Arms helps me make a decision about what I’m going to put my energy towards. Are you going to have 50 things on your Coat of Arms? Is it a crime to only have four or five little things and Jesus be central? That’s not a crime. You can’t do everything. You’re just not going to be able to be all things to all people in massive quantities, and you can’t be everywhere all the time. Do a few things right rather than a hundred things half-baked, like Ephraim’s half-baked cake. You have to stay focused on a few things and do those things right because in the end, the inheritance of a generation is going to be the few things that are done right, not the scattered shotgun affect of a thousand things half baked. It’s going to be the investment in a few things that will change that thing, and then in turn change other things around it permanently. It’s not this social thing about how much we can get done or how many people we know. That’s great. But there ought to be a purpose for it. Life is much more focused on living the life of Christ than it is seeing how many places we can be and making sure we’re having as much fun as possible.

Be Practical—There is No Other Way in the Kingdom

It’s imperative in the Kingdom of God to be practical. There is just no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is seeing his own life change and others around him change in any form or shape who isn’t practical.

Becky and I had a talk last night about a practical way for her to be serious about the issues in her life. I encouraged her to write a couple of key things down and put them on her computer monitor. I then found out later that she didn’t do that, and I was really disappointed because if we’re not going to act on things, if we’re going to be hearers but not doers, as James said, then really bad things end up happening to us: we become self-deceived. You have to be practical. Those of us who won’t be practical will die in our mediocrity.

Now on a practical level, I really encourage all of you to give some serious thought to if you were going to have a Coat of Arms what you would put on there? We’ve talked about the obvious centrality that consumes 98% of the face of the Coat of Arms—Jesus. Following Jesus with all our heart and basing our decisions on what He thinks about it, and basing our attitudes, our conversations, and our habits on what He thinks about it—that’s central on our Coat of Arms. But in addition to following Jesus, if there were some other things on your Coat of Arms, what would they be? What things are going to be important to you in your life? What things are you going to pursue with some sense of vigor and purpose? What direction are your sails going to be set? If you’re not going to be practical about it and decide what’s going to be important to you in your life, you will end up with dead air, but the dead air will be between your ears. You’ll sit around at 7:00 at night saying, “Who am I?” You won’t know what you’re doing in your life and so you’ll be frustrated. You won’t know what to do, if you don’t have four or five things sitting out there on the edges of your shield. “Well, I don’t have anything going on right now, so I’ll go to the little man with the mustache, or the guy with the axe, or the 19.” If I don’t have anything to go to, then I’m just going to sit around saying, “I’m lonely. No one invites me over to dinner. Oh, what will I do? Let’s watch a stupid video for the fourth time.” That’s what happens. You die on the inside if you don’t know where you are going. Like children tossed to and fro, you are like a sailboat in the middle of the ocean going around in circles. Oh, you’re making good time—but you’re not going anywhere. So, you end up bored, frustrated, and moody.

There is an old saying about an idle mind being the devil’s workshop. There’s truth in that. I don’t know who made that up, but there’s truth in that. If you don’t know what’s on your shield, then you are not going to know what to go to next when you have a few minutes of dead air in your life because your life is directionless and you’ve chosen to be directionless by painting your shield white and then sitting on it like it’s a chair. If that’s how you are going to live your life, then you’re going to make yourself miserable unnecessarily. That is what most people do. You see all these pictures of people in the world; they’re 75 years old and have their own favorite chair in the living room—Grandma is in this one, and Grandpa is in that one, and they watch the same shows all week long. They are just brain dead vegetables. They have learned to deal with the pain by dying on the inside. They have no direction. They have no purpose in life, and they deal with the pain by the drugs of stupidity. If you don’t have any money, that’s what you do. If you have money, then you buy things all the time. You go on vacations and travel around the world looking at the same things over and over again, just like it’s on a television remote. “Well that was fun. I ate something different in Tijuana than anything I ever had in Sao Paulo. Wow! I’m a world traveler. I’m important.” That’s just the rich peoples’ way of using the remote. It still means nothing. It still accomplishes nothing. They are still dead on the inside. They are trying to make the movie run in their head fast enough to get through life so they can go ahead and die, by trying to not be bored before they die. Well we can do better than that.

Jesus Knew What His Life Was About

Jesus was never ever bored, not even for a second in His entire life. And if He had lived to be 130 years old, He still would have never been bored. Why is that? Because He knew what He was living for. It was clear to Him what He was living for. He maybe didn’t always have an outlet for it, but there was never any question in His mind about which way His sail was going. He knew what He was going to be about. I suspect He got to be a rather excellent carpenter. I can’t imagine Jesus making any junk chairs, ripping people off by selling them a chair and then the leg falls off. I imagine He probably was the best carpenter in Nazareth. That was part of what He was doing for that part of His life. He had a little chair on his Coat of Arms. That was what He was supposed to do for that part of His life. There is nothing wrong with that. God made chairs. There’s nothing wrong with that. God still makes chairs. There’s nothing wrong with that. But at least know what is on your logo: know what it is that’s on your shield. Because if you don’t know, you’re going to have dead air, dead air, dead air inside of your head and frustrate yourself and be bored and make everybody around you miserable too.

What’s on YOUR Shield?

So, be practical. Make some decisions about what is important to you. What are you going to do well in life? What are you going to fall back on if you have a spare moment? What’s important to you? What kind of things ought to be on your shield? Let’s start with Jesus’ central part of the shield and be more specific. My Father’s house should be a house of prayer. There shouldn’t be anybody that bears Jesus’ name who doesn’t have prayer as an integral part of their shield because the Father’s house shall be a House of Prayer. That integral part, communion with God, has got to be a focal point for each of us. It’s got to be on our shield. What are you going to do when you’re bored? What if you find yourself awake at 4:30 in the morning, like I was this morning—what are you going to do? Will you lie there and think, “I’m bored”? I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t happy that I was awake at 4:30 in the morning, but I wasn’t going to be bored as long as I was awake. It wasn’t my choice to be awake, but as long as I was, I might as well make good use of the time. What’s on my shield? My Father’s house is a House of Prayer. It’s on my shield. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to get up and make a chair. That’s on my shield too (it’s actually not on MY shield), but if it were—I still wouldn’t get up and make a chair at 4:30 in the morning. But there are things I can do at 4:30 in the morning that are on my shield and so I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t miserable and angry and frustrated about not being able to sleep because I had something that was on my shield that I could do.

Worship is another one that should be on every follower of Jesus’ shield—my Father seeks worshippers. Building in other people’s lives is another one that ought to be on all of our shields—children, fathers, young men. Then there are other things that are more like chairs—whether it’s German, physics, or something else in our trade or occupation. It is nothing to enamor us, nothing to steal our hearts, to lust after a computer or lust after this electronic thing or that thing. That’s foolishness. That’s a hole in the shield, that’s not a logo on the shield; where you start letting your heart get sucked away by foolishness is where you start getting hit with fiery darts from the enemy. On the other hand, there’s a place for building your life and various aspects of your life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Excellence in those small things on your shield is a good thing, not a bad thing. It allows you to comprehend, understand, and communicate things with people in various walks of life. It allows you to be all things to all men because you can communicate with the president of a homebuilding company about economics or a higher up in an engineering firm about technology or talk with a guy who owns a restaurant about a latté or cappuccino machine. Knowing a little bit about various things, having some excellence in your life, allows you to be eminently useful to God in various areas of your life. There’s nothing wrong with excellence in those areas as long as none of them take your heart. So, you need to know what you’re going to be. You need to focus on those things. You need to fill in the gaps with those things on your shield.

So in a practical way, what I’m asking you to do is to have some idea what’s going to be on your shield? What’s going to be on your Coat of Arms? What is going to be important to you?

Trustworthy and Hardworking

From the conversation that Becky and I were having last night, two things that are going to be on her Coat of Arms are to be trustworthy and hardworking. Those two things are a little bit on the character side of things as opposed to practical applications. But what’s it going to look like for her to be hardworking in a day? What’s it going to look like for her to be trustworthy in a day? Trustworthy and hardworking are two things that every good person is, every Godly person is, every productive person is, every person worthy of being admired and esteemed and appreciated. They are going to be trustworthy and hardworking. Those are two things on her Coat of Arms, and she is going to focus on them. She is going to put them on her computer monitor and be able to say inside, “These are two things that I’m going to be. These are two things that I’m going to work on. These are very serious to me. My life is going to be about these things. This isn’t just a piece of paper that I look at and then look the other way or let it get shuffled under some other papers. This is not an external, extra thing to me. This is what my life is going to be about. I’m building my life out of these things. This is who I am. I’m trustworthy and I’m hardworking and I’m going to prove it. I may not be a good bird watcher or great racquetball player, and I might not make chairs at 4:30 in the morning, but I’m going to be trustworthy, and I’m going to be hardworking.”

So, a little bit of focus here—a little bit of practical application will take you places that you have never been able to dream of ever being. And it can start when your 50 years old. Most people go around in circles in the Atlantic Ocean their whole lives. Some people at age 50 decide what their life is going to be about and set their sail in that direction and their rudder in that direction and will settle for nothing else. Some of the greatest things that have ever been done on a secular level happened from people who were 40, 50, even 60 years old. They never did anything before that, but they finally figured out what life was about while there was still a little bit of time.

You younger people have a lot of extra time on your hands. Don’t waste it. Most of the people in this room who are twice your age, fouled up a big part of their lives. We were stupid. We wasted our time. We wasted our energy. We got misguided directions and went around in circles in the ocean and blew it. You guys don’t have to do that; you don’t have to be foolish enough to miss the opportunities that are in front of you. You can decide when you’re 12, when you’re 8, when you’re 4—this is what I’m going to do. “I’m going to learn how to read,” says a four year old, and they focus on that. “Well, I want to play with my blocks. I want to play with my legos. I want to play with this. I want to eat candy…” Well, what’s your life going to be about? Maybe a four year old isn’t normally going to focus on learning how to read, but we can help as parents—we can help them focus. What is your life going to be about? Is it about all these 10 other things, or this one thing I do. Are you going to focus on what is in front of you and what you do need to do? Are you going to do ten things half-baked or are you going to do two or three things really well that change the world around you?

So, from a practical standpoint, we can talk about this over and over and over again, and if you shuffle it underneath some other papers and walk away from it, you will continue to be worthless—you’ll just be more educated in your worthlessness and that makes you twice as worthless. That’s a shameful thing.

So, make some decisions. I would encourage you to do so, I do, I will, I shall, I am, I have, I will more. When you look back on your day and you look at your Coat of Arms, can you say, “Was I trustworthy? Was I hardworking? Did I make contributions to these various areas of my life? There’s only a few. Did I make contributions to trustworthiness, to be hardworking—did I make decisions that reflected that as part of my logo for my life, as my Coat of Arms? Did my decisions reflect hard work and trustworthiness? German is something that I should be learning. Physics is something that I should be learning. Prayer is something that should be an integral part of my life in a very serious, measurable way. Did my life reflect what’s on my shield today?” All of those—any of those things, character issues as well as academic pursuits—can be a part of your Coat of Arms.

The areas of focus and excellence that you have placed on your shield will also change over time. There will be a time where you put your hammer down and stop making chairs, like Jesus did and go on to something else. But those things are decisions, it’s not drifting like a child from one thing to another.

One thing to keep in mind is that the best thing that I can do for my children or for any other person I’m pouring my life into is to make sure other people are pouring into them too. Meaning it’s not going to be some one-on-one consuming relationship because that’s not my best way to serve them. My best way to serve them is to help them stay focused on the things that God has had them put on their Coat of Arms and help them have the resources to follow through.

Where will you be in six months?

Make sure you have a Coat of Arms. If you don’t, you’ll look back over your last six months and say, “What did I just do? Where did those six months go? There was some good things, and that was kind of fun…” However, even in your memory of those six months, it is hazy because you didn’t know where you were going and you don’t know where you went. So, it’s learning the process of being clear with yourself and with God about what is important to you so you can look back over your last six months and see if there was any progress made. If you don’t have an objective, a goal, a destination, then you won’t know if you made progress or not. Six months from now, Becky ought to be able to say, “I’ve proven myself trustworthy, and I’ve proven myself hardworking because those are two things that everybody I look up to and admire spiritually have. They have those two qualities.” Therefore, she wants to be those things too. That’s what she told me last night. Does she really want to be those two things? I don’t know. Is she going to put it on her Coat of Arms or is she just going to walk away and forget what she looked like? Being a hearer and not a doer. She is going to have to decide if there’s enough inside of her to make that decision and then pursue it. If she puts those two things on her Coat of Arms, six months from now, she’ll be able to say, “Every single day I made an effort to make sure that these two things were true of me. And whenever it wasn’t true, I found the right people to apologize to and I made it right. Then, I reset my sails in the right direction. I did that every day over the last six months. And Mom, have I made progress in those two things?” Other people will see it. But if she doesn’t even really know… “I remember we talked about that once. Yea, those things are important,” that’s when six months turns into six years, which turns into six decades, and our lives are just worthless because we weren’t really clear. So, we got exactly what we shot for—which was nothing.

 

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