We are blessed to have Clay Morgan of ClayWrites guest posting today. Clay is the kind of teacher I always wanted to experience in college. As a pop culture professor, he makes learning fun. He’s the clever, lovable, puckish younger brother that I never had. Clay can cook, dazzle with his stellar karate moves, and make even the ugliest sweater look good. He hails from Pittsburgh, PA but also speaks fluent Canadian. Frankly, I’m quite jealous.
If you haven’t met Clay yet, be sure to pay a visit and subscribe to ClayWrites! And now, here’s Clay…
Somebody recently asked me to name something I know way too much about. The first answer that came to mind was “ways to not succeed.”
I’m what you call an ideas man. My brain constantly churns out plans of all sorts. That sounds kind of great but most of those schemes never went anywhere, especially when I was younger. My problem was that for the longest time I was brilliant at starting but terrible at finishing.
Good ideas that never go anywhere are useless. The world is run by finishers, people who build great things. How do we join them?
The history I teach is filled with inspiration, especially ancient times when those seven wonders of the world were crafted. I’m blown away by the construction of a new home let alone a skyscraper or stadium. Imagine what it took to make amazing structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza with practically no technology!
Yet King Solomon may have built something that surpassed all seven of those iconic structures, the First Temple in Jerusalem.
That temple wasn’t just massive; it was invaluable. Thousands of tons of precious metals and iron went into the project. Massive loads of lumber were felled and shipped down the Mediterranean coast. Workers included every level from skilled craftsmen and engravers to loggers and stonecutters. They numbered in the hundreds of thousands and didn’t so much as have a thermos or port-a-john let alone power tools.
The task took years, but the planning took decades. The people running the show knew how to think big and finish. Neat combo.
Solomon’s papa was King David. He got his vision from the only One bigger than him: his God. 1 Chronicles 28 tells the story. David didn’t just dream up this ambitious building project on his own. The vision came to him express via the Spirit of God. Makes sense since the temple was literally a house for the Almighty. Too bad they didn’t have MTV back then because that would’ve made a great episode of Cribs.
But don’t take my word for it. “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”
We often wonder what to do next. Ever get stuck? Ever get paralyzed in that moment of decision when you know that the next move you make could change your life forever?
David said that God enabled him to understand the details.
There’s pretty much three types of people: those who don’t believe in God, those who believe in God but don’t find Him useful, and those who believe in God and look to Him for understanding.
For the crowd that doesn’t believe in God there’s no ultimate understanding. If you don’t believe in a transcendent power then meaning disappears, so what’s the point? But I’m always fascinated when people tell me there is no God yet proceed to point out all the terrible things He does. Which one is it?
For believers, most of us have no trouble dumping on God. When things go wrong we plead with/rage against the all-powerful deity that let us down. Of course, when things go right we might not be as quick to show gratitude. That’s how it often works for me anyway.
So between these highs and lows we’re trying to figure out what comes next. What should we focus on now? Should we take that job? Get that degree? Have that kid? To a lesser extent should we buy that house? Take that trip? Call that friend or family member who we’ve allowed resentment to separate us for so long?
That’s why I love David—one of the most powerful kings of all-time. He succeeds and blows it and despairs and questions. But in the end he lands on value and meaning, something real and knowable. He says that God enables him to understand the details of the plan. I like that because he had all the wealth, power, and fame you could dream of yet he didn’t try to pretend like life was about him. In fact, one of the things David had to understand was why he didn’t get to be the one to build the glorious temple. That job was given to his son instead.
Even though he didn’t fully understand the guidelines he still did what he knew to be right.
Twice David says, “Do the work” to his son Solomon. That declaration comes with some authority. If you keep going you will succeed. Don’t stop. Finish.
Solomon did the work and created something so magnificent that other world leaders sought him out to pay homage.
So what are you building? What’s next for you?
Here are four tidy lessons from David’s leadership to help us succeed in our messy lives.
1. Recognize inspiration / Make plans.
2. Bring like-minded people alongside you.
3. Do the work.
4. Finish as much as you can.
Sometimes we don’t get to finish the job. Add value to whatever work you do, regardless of what part you play.
We often won’t know what’s going on, but God will enable us to understand the details. Sure, you may not get that clarity right away, but would you rather always do what makes immediate sense or what is truly best in the long run?