Life hack: Any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; a tip or strategy for managing life’s tasks
Anyone with the ability to access the internet will discover that a Google search of the words “life hack” yields a plethora of results. (I guess you could say that Google itself is a life hack!) From articles to books to videos, people are looking for ways to make life a little easier using shortcuts. We may prefer to say call it a desire for greater efficiency, but typically it’s more of an eagerness to make something trouble-free. I chuckled a little when I saw that a popular website with the name “Life Hacks” also included an article with the following title: 8 Reasons You Should Do The Hard Things.
Admittedly, I enjoy finding ways to make life a little easier. I mean, run more efficiently … of course. Last week I spent a great deal of time utilizing some of life’s day-to-day shortcuts available to me. Some of them were inherited simply because I live in a century and culture of convenience. Most of the people I know take full advantage of their access to electricity and running hot water, as well as things like dishwashers, microwaves, Keurigs and the very popular Instapot. It’s rare to find people who look for ways to make life more difficult, although I am aware of the existence of the small communities within our nation where technological advances have been rejected for the most part. Some would probably accuse these people of unnecessarily making it hard on themselves!
As a staff member of a leadership development company, I format and design curriculum that encourages leaders to consider maintaining a habit of doing hard things. In the process of my work, I’m faced with this concept almost every day. And I believe it’s a good thing to practice. But what I don’t ever want to do is to mislead others, or confuse myself, by introducing good leadership principles as Christian when they don’t actually pertain to being a faithful Christ-follower.
For example, I have never found biblical evidence supporting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable,Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). While there are some specific Proverbs that offer us wisdom in using time wisely and avoiding being lazy, we don’t find guidelines for goal setting in scripture. In fact, we find more scripture that seems to tell us NOT to trust in our own goals/plans. (Pm 37, Pm 118, Proverbs 16:9).
I don’t believe we are disobeying scripture if we set goals. I do believe we are disobeying scripture if we trust in goals.
Someone said once, “don’t hear what I’m not saying.” So yeah. I’m not saying that searching for life hacks or creating lofty goals are unbliblical practices. What has concerned me is that in some faith circles there are catch words and phrases that are touted as Christian principles. The danger is not that the application of these principles is sinful, it’s that they could easily become a substitute for genuinely living out our faith. It’s so easy to pat ourselves on the back for being strong and brave when we have a little success. And if not kept in check, we’re quite capable of missing a very crucial element.
We must not fall for the enemy’s schemes to distract us by spending all our time on some good things that keep us from the best things. It’s a good thing to be stretched out of a comfort zone. But we want to make sure that we aren’t creating a list of worldly ‘hard things’ that actually distract us from the very real spiritual ‘hard things’ we’ve been called to do. Things like …
possessing a heart of compassion (love) for people unlike us,
pursuing deep joy in the midst of trials,
maintaining a peaceful attitude and disposition when adversity surrounds us,
praying for and demonstrating patience toward a slow driver or cashier,
noticing a lonely individual and extending kindness to them,
developing a mindset toward difficult people that produces good deeds toward them,
being faithful to give to and serve in our church because we care about the ministry to God’s people,
preserving a gentle spirit towards a spouse and/or kids,
and finally praying God’s word into our minds and hearts so that we depend on the Spirit’s control in stressful situations.
These are just a sampling of the hard things we practice as Jesus people.
And there are no shortcuts.
But there is help. We can’t begin to accomplish these in our own strength. Even the foundational habits of Bible study and prayer are hard things in themselves. Not hard because God is harsh. They are hard because the enemy works against us every step of the way. They are hard because we’re in a fight with him. The bible tells us that he’s clever. So, I don’t want to spend so much time looking in the mirror and cheering myself on to do what the world says is hard that I miss the daily look into God’s word to understand what the crucified life really is.
Paul learned the art of contentment no matter what he was experiencing – loss, gain, success, failure, plenty, or little. And then he said “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
So, yes. Let’s do hard things.
Because, Christ gives us strength.