I want to take some time to explore the idea of preparation. Specifically, what is it, and what areas of our lives require preparation? I’m not trying to take this conversation in an overly negative direction. This isn’t about nuclear fallout, foreign occupation, or even a global economic crisis. I’m not talking about preparing for the worst, rather opening discussion about what could be if we prepared for the best life had to offer. I’m talking about the substance of our humanity, our moral compass, and the heartstrings that bind all cultures together. I am talking about the things that if we spent a little more time “preparing” would make countless other problems easier to navigate, or possibly make them avoidable all together.
Preparation by definition is “the activity or process of making something ready or of becoming ready for something.”
To prepare, to become or make ready for something, I miss this all the time. My definition of preparation generally looks more like, plan for the worst, be ready for an emergency, or attempt to minimize certain future loss. When we look at preparation in light of that which we love, versus the things we fear, it becomes very different. Preparation in light of love begins to take on a much more balanced approach. It no longer becomes entirely defensive, but embodies the idea of progress, growth, and change.
In order to prepare, or make something ready, we need a clear understanding of what that “something” is. What do we want, or who do we want to become? For athletes, it is often championships, the highest level of success. For businessmen and women it may be sustainable growth, impact, innovation, or influence as a leader. For families it may be security and provision, or becoming the loving leader your family deserves. When we have a clear vision of the “something” we wish to chase, preparation becomes easier because we begin to recognize what is required of us. We begin to take note of the opportunities life presents us, daily. There is no off-season when it comes to preparation. There are simply different seasons and different ways we prepare depending on the season we are in.
When Nelson Mandela was asked how he survived almost 28 years of imprisonment he responded, “I didn’t survive. I prepared.” Is this not what makes or breaks leaders and culture shapers? When it is easy to play the victim, or when we are the victim, do we see the season we are in as an opportunity to prepare? Are we being directed by our fear, or are we being driven by our love and conviction for what the world could be? If we do not recognize the world as it could be, we’ll settle for surviving when in contrast we could be preparing for what our communities could become if we had the vision and the courage to pursue change.
This is where we come back to preparation. Preparation is not changing how the world perceives us, or how we perceive the world. It is not about putting Band-Aids on broken bones. It is about truly becoming what the world desperately needs. Preparing is about ending the conversation about what is wrong with the world or our situation, and doing the things necessary to step into who we were meant to be. It is our actions that speak loudest, and the world is in desperate need of people who are living so loudly that anything lacking in truth, character, integrity, and conviction begins to shudder. Or, in best case scenario, others begin to long for the love that has so prepared those who are shaping culture causing them to be ready in season, and out of season. Athletes prepare, leaders prepare, world changers prepare, because without preparation they will fail. Without making ready for, or if one never strives to become what the world needs, they will forever be weaker than the resistance.
I haven’t really even scratched the surface about what preparation looks like, other than it is not about surviving the always impending doom, but rather, it is about investing in our hearts and minds that we can see clearly through the mud that fear so often stirs up. While preparation will look differently at times, there really is no season we should not be preparing ourselves to be all that the world longs for us to be. Preparation means being able to see truth above what is expected of us, and it means pursuing change over what is culturally acceptable. This does not require you to believe just anything, it requires you to know why you believe what you believe. It requires you to be what you believe. It requires you to become who you were meant to be. Find your “something” and draw your line in the sand, stand firm and prepare yourself to hold the line. Prepare yourself to surrender your pride and allow humility to lead. Do not simply be defensive, be offensive. Do not survive, become. Do not simply exist, allow yourself to be made ready… prepare.
Prepare yourself. Waste no time, for time lost will not return to us. As you prepare, as your lines are drawn deeper and deeper, expect opposition. Lay foundations of truth. Understand rest as a rhythm of life, not a reaction to utter exhaustion. Challenge and encourage through patience and deep understanding. Do not be easily swayed by vocal, compelling leadership. Be what you believe. In all humility and patience, chase the deepest desires of your heart. Prepare, because change is a slow process. Prepare, because growth can often times hurt. Prepare, because we have all settled for half-truths and illusions of truth in different seasons. Prepare, because there will be resistance, do not lose heart. Prepare, not because of fear, but because that is what love does.
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