Maximize the Moment: God's Action Plan For Your Lifeby T. D. Jakes
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Using ageless biblical principles, Bishop T.D. Jakes teaches that every moment of every day, God provides all we need to achieve success. In Maximize the Moment, he explains how to release ourselves from damaging relationships and debilitating fears, how to face and conquer obstacles that may stand in our path to success, and how to move beyond our painful pasts.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 5.20(w) x 8.15(h) x 0.85(d)
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- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
An elderly lady enters a local diner and approaches the nearest table. She drops her heavy parcels onto the floor and eases herself into the booth. She is tired and hungry. She has been running errands all morning and has stopped to get a cup of coffee and a donut before continuing on with her chores.
The diner is almost empty. A weary waitress shuffles over toward the woman's booth. She carries a steaming pot of coffee and automatically begins to fill her cup. The piping hot coffee begins to fill the expectant, up-turned cup, and the rich aroma wafts into the air. Almost as if she were talking to herself, the waitress mumbles, "Just say when." The coffee swirls wildly around the perimeter of the cup and quickly reaches the brim. It starts to overflow and splashes onto the table. The woman, who was only half-attentive, finally realizes that she had let it go too long before stopping the waitress. She smiles and says what should have been said a little sooner, "When."
The waitress had asked her to say when; she left the control of how much coffee was to be poured in the hands of the customer. But the woman was tired. She wasn't paying attention, and she expected the waitress to notice that the cup was filled.
More often than not, many of us sit quietly through life relying on others to see when the cup is filled. Like the cup, we are vulnerable to what people pour into us, but we tend to hope that they will see what they are doing to us and stop when it is too much. The truth of the matter is most peoplewill keep dumping and dumping into you if you do not speak up.
People who don't speak up can find themselves in trouble because they didn't take control of the situation and speak up when they had had enough. They let people keep pouring on more problems, more burdens, more responsibilities. They didn't pay attention or else just kept their mouths shut, and before they know it, their life is overflowing with too much to do, too much heartache, and too much misery. They don't say anything and they wind up with nothing but one big mess to clean up.
Now it is true that you don't have to start a riot or drop a bomb on someone, but you do need to tell people when to stop. If something is not working for you, if someone is doing something you don't want them to do to you, you better take control of your life and be the one who says, "When."
Your life is too precious to leave it in the hands of someone else. You cannot expect someone else to take care of you. You cannot expect someone to tell you when you have had enough. We cannot trust our lives to anyone. God is the only one we can trust to steer our lives. Other people can act as advisors, but never allow someone's opinion to outweigh your own.
Empowerment begins when you take control of your life, when you recognize that you have had enough, when you take appropriate steps to make order out of what happens and when it happens in your life. You need to take your future out of the hands of bystanders and firmly grasp the reins. You'll have no control if you maintain your silence. You have to speak up and be heard. Lift your head, raise your voice, and shout out loud, "When!"
Overloaded people fail. They always have and they always will. They fail at marriage, ministry, and management. They fail at parenting, partnership, and professional endeavors. Like an airplane, we can only carry a certain amount of weight. If we have too much baggage on board, we will be ineffective and we won't be able to soar. Most people end up exceeding the weight limit. Motivated by the desire to please, impress, or otherwise gain commendation, they take on too much and, in the end, fail to reach the heights of success or else crash because they ignored their limitations.
In order to maximize your life, you have to minimize your load. You must decide what you will and will not take on. You must determine what is worthy of your attention. Every situation that arises does not deserve your attention. You must focus your concentration on what's important. Don't dilute it by spreading it too thin. Some things should be dismissed as just nuisances. I call them the gnats and flies of life. They are there to annoy you, like a flying insect you are tempted to swat at while driving. If you keep swatting at that fly, you may lose control of the car and end up in a wreck. You can only deal with so many things at one time. Choosing which to respond to and which to ignore helps you to maximize your life.
I have noticed that my grandmother has become less cranky with age. She doesn't get as upset as often as she once did. She doesn't lose her temper as easily. She has stopped rushing around trying to do everything and please everyone, and she's better off for it. I asked what brought about this change in her. She told me that she has come to realize that most things are not as important as they had once seemed. What she used to consider a crisis is now just an unfortunate incident. What she once thought absolutely necessary she now realizes is inconsequential. At this stage of her life, she has learned to distinguish what's important from the insects of life. Knowing which things to swat at is a sign of growing up and growing wise.
UNLOCK THE PRISON GATE
Lightening your load also means knowing when to release things. One of the most dangerous things is to be shackled to your past. We all make mistakes, we all have regrets, but we must learn how to move beyond them. Life is too short to allow yourself to be an inmate in the prison of bad choices and weak decisions. The prison of previous mistakes comes with jailers of guilt and regret. Together they hold you captive, torturing you with images of what you could have been and what you could have accomplished had you not done this or that or the other.
What's unfortunate is that most of us don't realize that the key to release ourselves is within our own hands. Often, we are our own wardens, prolonging the sentence. Actually, many times we are the judge, jury, and prosecutor, giving ourselves a life sentence of misery, mourning and regret. What we need to realize is that there is only one Judge, and He is forgiving.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God
For He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55: 7, NKJV)
Yes, we all make bad choices at one time or another, but all we need to remember is that if we ask the Lord for His forgiveness, He will be merciful and release us from our sins. So if our Father releases us from our sins, why do we remain in the self-imposed shackles of our past? Let us lift up our voices in repentance, and the walls of our prison cells will fall away.
I'm not saying you can just walk away from your mistakes. Sometimes there are consequences that we have to live with. However, when we make a bad choice, we need just apply the three Rs: We need to repent, try to rectify the situation, and take responsibility for our deeds. But once we do that, we need to move beyond the guilt.
You can't spend your life in the graveyard of guilt dealing with the corpses of the past. Know when things are dead, know when to release them and bury them. If you continue to work with the dry bones of dead issues, you, too, will begin to decay. No amount of work will resuscitate a corpse. Sign the death certificate and bury the past.
Some issues must be reckoned dead. It is neither weak nor cowardly to walk away from the past. Leaving behind dead issues does not mean you are quitting; it means you are conserving your strength for things that count, things you can change, things you can control. What do you gain by beating a dead horse? It is far braver and more beneficial to recognize that you must move ahead and face new challenges. Focus your energy on things you can actually make an impact on, and bury the past so it may rest in peace.
Some of you may remember The George Burns Show. George Burns ended each show with a simple, "Goodnight, Gracie." Sometimes that's all it takesa simple goodnight. You just need to lay certain things to rest. I have spent countless hours counseling people who have lost precious moments of their lives because they were busy struggling with issues that should have been put to bed. How much more productive, how much more fulfilling, their lives could have been if they had just faced that lingering issue and said, "Goodnight, Gracie."
It is time to take inventory. Companies do it every day. Occasionally they write things off as a loss so that they can go on to make greater profits. Take stock of your life and determine which things are holding you back from profiting. Have the wisdom to recognize what is dead and have the courage to write it off.
TRIM THE EXCESS
In addition to shedding the past, to maximize your life you must also know how to cut yourself off from things that aren't working in the present. You need to constantly evaluate your life so that you can determine what is right in your life and what must be cast aside. God created you for a purpose, you are destined to accomplish certain things. Constantly ask yourself, "How does this relationship, this situation, this decision affect the overall outcome of my predestined purpose?"
I have seen people who didn't ask this question, or else didn't listen to the answer. They went through their lives surrounded by people and things that dragged them down and prevented them from reaching the heights of success. Their inability to trim the excess from their lives, to get rid of things that hindered instead of helped, caused them to wreck companies, destroy ministries, devastate children, and keep themselves from their life's goals. They were left bitter and old at the end of their lives when they could have been reveling in the success of a completed mission. They packed in too much mess and emptied out too few mistakes, and they were unable to complete their journey because their bags were too heavy and they wouldn't let them go.
PUT ON THE BRAKES
I believe that you must develop the habit of constantly taking inventory, and this will lead to an instinct of knowing when to say "when." You'll learn when to put on the brakes so that you don't crash and know when to keep going so that you stay on the road. You need to be in the driver's seat in your life. And part of being a competent driver is knowing when to apply the brakes. Who would want to drive a car that didn't have brakes?
I grew up in West Virginia. The mountains there are very highthey stand at attention like erect soldiers against the blue sky. When I was a boy, the roads along those mountains were winding and very rough. To navigate them you needed to be an adept and cautious driver. You can imagine how crucial it was to have good brakes as you spiraled wildly through and down those Appalachian Mountains. As a child, racing down those roads was more thrilling to me than any rollercoaster. As the car hugged the turns, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up and I would shut my eyes tightly and say a silent prayer that we made it through alright.
What if you didn't have brakes? Imagine the terror that would grip you as your car spun wildly out of control. In your mind, see your face distorted in a grimace of horror and your knuckles turning white as you clutch the steering wheel. Your heart races as you plummet down the mountainside. In a matter of seconds you move from fear to hysteria to the sad resignation that you are going to die.
Now think about the scenario I just described. There is one significant question: Why? You are not about to die because you didn't have a rich leather interior, power steering, air-conditioning, or a top-of-the-line sound system. No, you are dying because you were unable to brake. You lacked control. You can have a luxury model car with all the conveniences, but if there is no way for you to put on the brakes and stop the ride, you are at risk.
This is what happens when you don't exert control over your life. This is what happens when situations occur in your life and you just sit back and watch. You may think: I wish I had a better job; I wish I could leave this bad relationship; I wish I could complete this project. And so on and so forth. These are the collection of statements echoing in the heart of one who lacks control, one who cannot make liberating decisions, one who cannot grab the wheel, put on the brakes, and steer his life the way it is supposed to go.
Sometimes it is easier to let someone else do the driving. For a while, it may even be comfortable to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery. But you should not be a passenger in your life, at the mercy of someone else who is determining the route. God has given you the map; it is your calling to follow it. You cannot depend on someone else to chauffer you around. Others have a destination of their own. No matter how timid you are, you cannot allow anyone to dominate you and tell you where to go. Don't be trapped in the car or stuck in some wild car chase with no way to get out. Even well-meaning friends, your family, or your boss may try to determine your way. But get into the driver's seat and take hold of that wheel. Only you know where you have to go.
When talking about taking control, I must stress one thing: You should not, cannot, and do not need to control someone else's life; you just need to control your own. You cannot dictate what another person does, thinks, or feels. You can only be in charge of yourself. People may hurt you, whether it is an act of malice, indifference, or misdirection. Whatever the circumstances, you may not be able to stop another's actions, but you can minimize the effect it has on you. You can tell the person that you've had enough, that you will not stand for that treatment, and when necessary you can remove that person from your life.
Too often, our actions are dictated not by our own sense of purpose but by a misguided need to please. We want to make others happy and will do anything to win their approval. We care so much about what others think that with every step we take, we look over to see if our move is making someone smile. Although it is nice to be concerned for others, if you're always looking for approval, you're not looking where you're going and eventually you're bound to walk into a wall or trip over your own two feet.
We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5: 29, NKJV)
The most important thing I can tell you is this: You do not have to please anyone except God, our Father. We are accountable to Him alone. Doesn't God tell us, "You shall have no other gods before Me"? Doesn't He tell us to have no idols, no false gods? You may say that you don't worship idols, but you do worship them when you dedicate your life to impressing others or when you allow the opinions of others to determine your actions. Those others become idols in your life.
Care not what others think and act only in accordance with the divine purpose you have received from God. Remember: To maintain control of your own life, you have to free yourself from the confines of public opinion. Keep to your plan and keep your life in your own hands.
Some of us don't exercise control over our own lives because we are too timid. We are afraid of speaking up and acting out. We question our right to say no. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to assert myself?" I ask you, Who are you not to? You are a child of God and as such you have the right to lead your life to its fullest.
What do you think will happen if you open your mouth and stand up for your rights? What are you afraid of? People I have counseled have told me that they worry that the people in their life will leave them if they say no. I say, let them go! People who have used and abused you won't be happy with your wanting to take control of your life. They've been in the driver's seat on this power trip and they won't want to give it up.
Well, people who don't respect your right to say "when," who don't honor your wish to stop, who don't understand when enough is enough are not worth the time of day. They're not worth a long, drawn-out discussion, they're not worth a major confrontation. Just get up, say goodbye, and walk out! You're better off without them. Don't waste another second. You might not be able to control their behavior, but as God as my witness, you can control your own.
STAY ON TRACK
Constantly take inventory of your life and determine what does and doesn't work for you. If you want to maximize your life and fulfill the plan that God has for you, you must take control of your life. Know when to say when, trim off the excess, and release yourself from the past. You cannot soar to great heights if you are weighted down with excess baggage. Learn to let go so you can fly.
What People are Saying About This
"His stories are thought provoking, his guidelines are easy to follow and his questions allow the reader to align the course of his or her life to the biblical precepts presented in the book." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Meet the Author
Bishop T. D. Jakes is one of the world's most widely recognized pastors and a New York Times bestselling author of over thirty books. Named by Time magazine as "America's Best Preacher," his message of healing and restoration is unparalleled, transcending cultural and denominational barriers. Jakes is the founder and senior pastor of The Potter's House, which has a congregation of over 30,000.
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