One of the great blessings in my life is singing and playing guitar on Sunday mornings at our local church. No matter my state of mind when I arrive, playing music is always good for my soul. Last month we introduced a new song to our congregation and its message has hung with me ever since. It’s a song by Josh Baldwin called Evidence. The message is simple but profound: “I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life.”
I am in a season where “the evidence” is very visible. I have been overwhelmed by the impact that Thrive Through The Five has had on others as I’ve had the great honor to share that message through the book, social media and various speaking events. As the song would say, “the evidence is here.”
But let me be completely honest… the evidence is there for that one specific area. There are LOTS of areas in our lives (physical health, spiritual health, financial health, emotional health to name a few) and the evidence tells a unique story for them all.
But this got me thinking about the very nature of evidence and a couple of points came to mind…
Evidence comes as a result of intentional action. (or lack thereof, which let’s be clear – is an action in and of itself). We know this to be true, yet sometimes the distance between where we are and where we want to be makes the enormity of the action required seem unattainable. But contrary to popular belief, big things don’t always happen with a leap. Big things happen when we take the next best step over and over and over again. I’ve just started James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and he notes that “improving by one percent isn’t particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable – but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long haul.” When you realize the evidence in one area of your life is not telling the story you want to live out, start by taking small steps and forming better habits.
Evidence is not always immediate. Have you ever been deep in the work of things and just not seeing the results? The truth is that as much as my enneagram 3 self would like to perfectly orchestrate the specific timing of when and how the evidence will show up, it just doesn’t happen like that. We have to be faithful to the work that is before us and trust that the evidence will come.
Evidence is proportional to the boldness of your vision. Earlier I talked about the need for small steps – which is absolutely true. But there will be a limit to how much we can achieve if we continue to limit our vision. I recently had the opportunity to have a visioning session with an Executive Coach and it was an incredible experience. He started by asking what my goals were and I shared those as he jotted them down on a whiteboard. I then continued the conversation by sharing the steps I would be taking to achieve those goals. He kind of chuckled and drew a line separating everything we just talked about and said as clearly as he could – “your vision is not big enough.” In other words, if you can achieve the goals you’ve set before yourself with little effort or growth, maybe you need to think bigger. He asked me what was “bigger” than what I had already listed and suddenly our really comfortable conversation of listing goals within my comfort zone became really uncomfortable as I was challenged to share some of those things that I have unconsciously (or consciously) locked away in the deepest parts of my mind.
So, what meaning does this have for us. What do these truths lead us to do?
- Analyze where you ARE. One of the greatest gifts from writing is the wisdom that has come from intentional reflection. (Not so great at intentional reflection? You’re not alone – check out this great article to hone your skills). Think about the areas that are important in your life and consider what the evidence is showing for each. Sometimes these things are clear – we know whether our pants fit or if our relationship with our kids reflects the kind of parents we want to be. But sometimes things aren’t as clear and we could benefit from honest feedback – be that from a friend, a colleague, a pastor or a coach. The best way to map out a course to where we want to be is to have a clear picture on where we actually are.
- Reflect on where you’ve BEEN. As important as knowing your current reality, recognizing your past progress can be powerful for your future journey! I’ve shared before that I often become overwhelmed by social media when I see all the incredible things that my fellow superintendents and leaders are doing. It’s as if my mind creates this photo reel of the “best moments” that everyone posts and treats that conglomeration as one leader and then cruelly compares my day’s reality to that false narrative. Sometimes we need to step away and remember where WE have come from and what WE have done. There is power when we reflect on the evidence that our past journey represents.
- Envision where you COULD BE. Just like my coach did with me, is there a line you need to draw on your whiteboard that separates where you are and where you’re headed with where you could be? Until you know where you WANT TO BE (and that can’t happen without intentional reflection and visioning), you’ll never truly understand the gap between your current reality and what COULD BE in your life.
There is no greater feeling than being able to proclaim “I see the evidence all over my life.” And what brings me great hope is that our ACTIONS can bring new and different EVIDENCE. Our evidence is a mark in time. It might be a starting point or an ending point or a marker in the midst of your journey. But as long as we have breath, we get to decide. We get to take the actions necessary to change the trajectory of where the next point will land.
So take a moment to realize where you’re proclaiming “I see the evidence” and celebrate that! And take a minute to really ponder the areas where you want things to look different – and what small steps will put you on the trajectory toward that evidence too! Most of all, don’t forget how far you’ve come and as Josh Baldwin would say, “where winter storms made way for spring.”
PS – If you’ve never heard the song (or even if you have), check out this special recording featuring Dante Bowe: