Stick To It, Sticky, Stuck–October 29, 2011


“Just hang in there.” 

 Seemingly pretty good advice–unless you happen to have a rope tied around your neck. The American people have a great admiration for perseverance. We love a good hard-luck story, where someone survives extreme difficulty and comes out the other end victorious. Of course you realize, the reason these stories are special is that they’re rare. Most people have extreme difficulty and DON’T survive it–therefore not providing much impetus for a celebration party.

If the only thing we have to offer people is “stick to it,” most of the time they’ll hit a patch that’s extremely sticky and find themselves stuck with the unfortunate results. So when is perseverance the legitimate muscle of faith and when does it become stubbornness? When are we moving forward at a slow pace and when are we being warned by nature, and even God, that our path is against the flow of good sense? How can we tell?

If I were to describe the national expression on the countenance of the American public, it would exude this sentiment: “I’m stuck–stuck with my wife, stuck with my husband, stuck with my job, stuck with my family, stuck with my church, stuck with my government.”

They DID “stick to it.” And then, because they weren’t where they could have been, life got sticky, and so instead of moving forward they got stuck in a position unfavorable to their dreams.

What can we do to make sure that what we’re pursuing is worth the running, sweat and energy we’re expending?  If we don’t, we’ll find ourselves sticking to a sticky mess with the end result being that we’re just stuck.  Fortunately for us, there is an answer–and it is simpler than many people would guess.

Every successful adventure begins with a season of counting the cost and coming up with a truthful assessment. That’s what the Bible means by “the truth will make you free.” When you’re not afraid to deal with the truth of the matter, your soul has the freedom to pursue something with great zest without fear that it’s a dead-end street.

Why is the truth more difficult than a lie? Here it is:sometimes the truth may make me appear weaker than I want to be. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to us that the weakness will be played out for all to see anyway.  It isn’t like you can hide your inefficiencies and lack.  All we end up doing is delaying the inevitable.

I never decide to “stick to” something until I have truthfully determined whether I have the ability, I can multiply the talent or I can locate someone who is smarter than me to help.

Truth is the missing ingredient in every endeavor that ends up in failure.

I need to sit down and truthfully look at myself. If I choose not to share my findings with others, that’s fine.  But my discovery should determine whether I am actually going to go after the goal or leave it to folks more qualified than me.

I meet such wonderful people who have introduced misery into their lives by taking on challenges that they are either not interested in or have absolutely no aptitude for accomplishing. To avoid embarrassment, they continue to do the job without joy and without much productivity. Unfortunate.

Truthful is a great replacement for “stick to it.”

Otherwise you’re going to find yourself in a sticky predicament where you’re already committed, everybody is expecting your involvement and you suddenly realize that you hate what you’re doing. So if you want to do it right–after you’ve done a truthful assessment of your abilities–then take a good hard look at what is working and what is not.

For instance, in our economy, here are two things we know for sure: (1) Giving tax breaks to the rich was unsuccessful; and (2) giving billions of dollars to billionaire corporations in a stimulus was equally as doomed. Yet the Republicans and Democrats are intent on “sticking to their plans,” creating this “sticky” situation in our economy. To escape this it will take truthful people admitting what they can and can’t do, finding out what really will work in this situation.  It may not be exactly to their political leanings; it may not be right up their alley. It may demand the involvement of other people they have deemed to be their enemies. But if you cannot truthfully ascertain what the real situation is and you will not study what works and doesn’t work, you will just find yourself sticking to stuff that just creates sticky surroundings.

So what do we have so far?

Truth.  And all truth must be on the inward parts–not ME deciding what is factual for YOU. Truth that is not on the inward parts is either legalism–or lies.

So once I find out what the truth is as it pertains to me, I am ready to study, without fear, what is working and what is not working.

And this leaves me one final mission.  In order to not get stuck in my sticky situation, I make a mature decision to duplicate what I see working around me in my own life … honestly. What do I mean by honestly? I mean without my particular interpretation and also in the sense that when it finally does stop working–which things eventually do–I will go back to the truth of the matter and learn what’s going to work next.

Perseverance is nothing but stubbornness unless it is birthed in truth. Sticky situations happen because we don’t really seek out what is working but instead, take our stubbornness to repeat practices which have proven to be unfulfilling. And the best way to avoid being stuck in a rut is to duplicate honestly what is working in the world around you until it doesn’t work anymore and then start the process all over again by doing a truthful evaluation.

Politics is a failed proposal because it insists that its adherents stick to a platform which may or not possess the truth to actually work. Religion is equally ridiculous because it asks the faithful to stick to teachings which may or may not have truth for our time and are not necessarily bound by the criterion of needing to work.

You can continue to “stick to it” and get into sticky situations where you find yourself stuck, or you can take a few minutes and uncover the truth about yourself and your abilities, find what’s really working and duplicate it honestly until God shows you even a better way. It is the key to happiness.

For I will tell you, my dear friends, happiness is being able to perform what you set out to do because it’s in the ballpark of your ability and it’s proven to be effective.


Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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