One of my first pursuits in life was baseball. I absolutely loved the game and chased after any opportunity to engage in baseball activities. For hours during summer vacations, I would field grounders from throwing a ball against our cinder block house, followed by hitting rocks with a stick that substituted for a bat. Back then, the games rarely aired on television, so my dad and I would listen to Ernie Harwell call the Detroit Tigers' baseball games on the radio. I could tell you from memory the batting order of the late 1970s and early 1980s Tigers teams and any of the pertinent stats. All of this baseball emersion culminated in a life pursuit: I was going to become a professional baseball player.
Then one day, way back when, I articulated to my Uncle Hershel that I was strongly going after the life goal of becoming a pro baseball player. I will never forget my uncle's response, "Norman, are you the best baseball player at your school?" I have thought about his question a few times since. Was he trying to get me to see something obvious to him, i.e., that I wasn't the best player around? Or was his intent to get me to think more carefully about what I was chasing? I answered, "Well, I am not the best, but I am better than average." My uncle got me to think about something important in life pursuits: Is this realistic? Can I attain what I am striving for?
Have you ever pursued something that was not probable or possible? Maybe you had the life goal of retiring at the age of 35 with a million bucks in the bank. It might be that you aspired to marry the knockout babe from your class. When we pursue something unrealistic, it can be very discouraging and add up to a waste of time and energy. But there is another danger to consider.
Something I have observed from life is that what you spend your time going after and how you go after it will have a marked impact on the type of person you become. Pursuits are tied closely to what we are becoming. So, what are your pursuits in life and what are they causing you to become? What would be a worthy pursuit that would bring about something worth becoming?
The Apostle Paul, led by God's Spirit, writes in I Corinthians 10:31-11:1, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved. Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." Paul directs us that a worthy lifelong goal is following Christ and ultimately becoming like him.
Let's look a little more closely. First of all, "Whatever you do," that is whatever you pursue — "whether you eat or drink" do all for the glory of God. We need to align our pursuits and how we pursue them with God and his ways.
Everything Christ did as our example on earth was to bring distinction to God. A question we might ask, "In the pursuit I am chasing, how can I act in a way that will reveal God and bring honor to him?"
As you are chasing after life goals, "Do not cause anyone to stumble." Take responsibility for what you do that may have an impact on others. Be cognizant of your example to the "little people" in your house. The genetic material that Christ wants to pass on to you is found in Mark 10:45, "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." In your pursuits, do not see people as obstacles but as opportunities for God's goodness to shine through you. Never overlook the example that you are to those around you. Paul says, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
So what are your pursuits in life? Are they worthwhile? What are you becoming? I encourage you to take some time and think through what you are striving after. Maybe it is time to shift your pursuits to reflect a desire to honor God.
Imagine what would happen if you chose to follow Christ in all your pursuits. It would change your life and those around you would be impacted for the better. Everyone would like what you are becoming.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, with two locations meeting Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at the Petoskey Middle School and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. More information is online at www.genesiswired.com or on Twitter @normbyers.