Yes, the amount of work we still have left to do is mind numbing, but look how far we’ve come already! Thank you, Jesus! Truly, if we had to get it all done in a hurry, the work still remaining is enough to drive a guy batty. So our sense of sanity and stability in all that is being undertaken is well summarized in a concept called kaizen—a Japanese philosophy of constant improvement. To put it more kindly: painfully slow, yet steady improvement. This is a microcosm of how the overwhelming goals of life can and should be handled.
Our local church in Clarksburg is now serving as a local campus for Purpose Institute (Bible college classes), and this holiday season our church undertook hosting a local instance of Financial Peace University (using video curriculum from Christian finance guru David Ramsey). The courses for both types of schooling have been tremendous. One story from David Ramsey illustrates how powerful a slow, steady improvement can be over the long haul.
He told of young man who learned how to be careful, saving and investing his money instead of going into debt. When he had finally saved enough money, he went down to the Mercedes Benz dealership and arranged to buy his dream car. He drove it home for a “test drive,” and his wife, friends, and neighbors all went bonkers congratulating him.
“You did it!” they shouted. “You’ve arrived!” they said. However, he finally chose to not buy the $40,000 car. Why? Well, when he started to think how much that saved money could become for him if he invested it instead, and when he considered that the car purchase would pretty quickly depreciate away the huge wad of cash, he chose to invest it instead.
Twelve years later (just 12, not 42 or 52), he saw a man driving the exact same model and make of car he almost bought. The car pulled up beside him at a stoplight. It had all the same features as the one he almost bought. It was in nearly mint condition for a 12-year-old Benz.
The man said to the driver of the nice, used Benz, “Excuse me, sir. Is that an ’82?”
“Yes!” came the reply.
“Nice!” he complimented.
“Would you mind to tell me what your car is worth right now?”
The driver of the used Benz went on to say that the car was in like-new condition, and he had just bought it for $4,000.
The man (who had chosen not to buy the same type of Benz when it was new) thanked the other driver, and went on about his business. He had invested the $40,000—he had socked it away in a mutual fund, with the dividends set to stay in the fund, for compounding of interest. He had never touched the money since.
When he got a chance, he checked on the value of his money then. The accumulated value, with interest? About $400,000. No gimmicks. Just time, and slight, positive improvements with each passing day.
I’m not just thinking about money. In the same way that we’re working to (painfully slowly) improve and enhance the ASR sites/programming, you can work daily to improve your life, your skills, your relationships, your finances, whatever. Maybe you need to lose some weight. Maybe you need to shed an addiction. The Apostle Paul once wrote of being able to withstand both failure and success, not being tripped up by either (see Philippians 4:13). It’s an important part of our life as a Christian. You can do it, in Jesus name! Anything can get amazingly better over time, with tiny improvements each day. As we enter this new year of 2014, let’s not just make a bunch of over-the-top “resolutions” (likely impossible deadlines for hard-to-reach goals). Instead, deliberately, carefully, intentionally make every day count, even if only by just the tiniest bit of improvement. God bless you in 2014, in Jesus name.