I was sitting by the pond in my garden …just idly watching the fishes enjoying themselves, playing under the waterfall… and wishing I could join them, they seem so relaxed, how big they are getting. Like the grass they don’t even try to grow, they just grow. Well it is 28 degrees, which in Manchester is pretty hot and we are just not used to it… I reckon I could get used to it though with very little effort, and it was all very relaxing as I was trying to think through something someone told me a few days ago.
“I work best under pressure,” he said, “I must have a deadline to do my best work.”
Well I have been reading through his work, and if I am going to be blunt about it, it’s not that great. In fact it would be difficult to hide the signs of the shortcuts he had forced himself to take because he left himself so short of time to do the job properly. I mean I do agree that a deadline is important but do we have to do all the work in the hours approaching that deadline? Wouldn’t it be great if those final hours were saved for last minute changes suggested by a subconscious mind relaxed in the knowledge that the task has already been completed.
But the truth is he really believes he works best under pressure, and he really believes his rushed efforts represent good work and actually he seems quite proud of it. That’s a shame because it will be my job to shine the glaring light of reality on the situation.
I will do my best to bend and shape him without breaking him and hopefully we will see both of us grow through the situation. Really that will be more up to him than me, will he be teachable or will that pride cause him to harden his heart? I have seen both examples with others in the past and it really can be a ‘sliding doors’ situation. It comes to all of us sometimes, doesn’t it: none of us are perfect and we must learn if we want to grow. The real question is, Do we want to grow?
But what have I gained out of this as I relaxed gazing at the fish whilst talking to God amid the beauty of our creation? That was the first thought, I noticed all the variety of colours, so many greens and yellows and purples. I used to think there was just green or just red but it is the infinite variety of God’s palette that has allowed him to paint such beautiful pictures. And then I remembered what the garden was like four years ago when we first moved in, I even had a glimpse at the old pictures that are saved on my phone.
And I felt God smile and whisper, “We did this together. I created you in my image and I gave you the ability to create too. You thought about this all by yourself, it came from a blueprint that I put inside you but you saw it before it was ever here, you saw it clearly in your mind just like I saw you before I made you. You had to see it first and then you were able to take the action to create it. I did add the finishing touches of course; you would have struggled to make a fish by yourself. Thats why we work together, that’s why I called my disciples to be fishers of men: we are partners.”
Well that was good, it thrills me when God speaks back in my times of prayer and meditation and it would have been worth taking the break and sitting in Gods presence just to hear that, but what about this ‘working to a deadline’ challenge I was facing? What could I learn about that?
My young friend is not alone in claiming he works better under pressure, and I have to be honest, I have often left things to the last minute and stayed up into the wee small hours to get them finished myself but lets see what actually happens here.
Looking back we recognise the enemy is procrastination. The time just seems to melt away, but actually it doesn’t melt: we freely choose to spend it on less important things knowing we will invoke the old habit of cramming just ahead of the deadline. The pressure we think we work best under is really the optimum amount of tension that we can take between giving up on the job altogether or what we need to move us to overcome that procrastination and its resultant inertia.
The best work I have ever done, and I know I am not alone, has always been in the times I have been enjoying myself, when I have been excited about the task, where I could anticipate the satisfaction of the breakthrough, the new learning, the job well done and yes, I am no different from anyone else, the recognition that would result. “Pride cometh before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction,” says the ancient scribe, but I know he did not mean that I should not do such a good job that I cannot look on it with the satisfaction of knowing I did my best and enjoying the pleasure or profit it has given to myself and others.
I will try harder now to serve my young friend, if I bring positive input as I gently correct him I am sure I can help him to be teachable. If I can show him the benefits, that he can feel and actually be more positive, that if he will meet the challenges early he can tackle them with optimism and not with fear, that he can enjoy the doing, not just the end result, that he can delight in the journey and not flop down exhausted at the destination. If he is relaxed, he will learn along the way, he will perform more often, spend more time in what some of us call ‘the zone’ and his results will be far above what he can even imagine right now.
He will be satisfied and whilst it will all be his work I will be satisfied too. One of the most amazing things God can ever say to us is that He is satisfied with us. He is not disappointed, he is not angry, he knows the journey is not over by any means but as we sit by the way for the moment, even as Jesus came aside for a while to think and to pray He says in this moment h his satisfied.
I think He appreciates that the feeling is mutual. I am satisfied with all He has done in my life until now and still I am excited to know that the journey must go on. I don’t have to try to grow, if I say in His presence I will just grow.