Few things haunt me more than the thought of wasting my life. Probably more pressing is the thought of ending life with regrets.
I want to live to my full potential.
I want to live life to the fullest.
I want to live for the glory of God.
Can you relate?
I recently just finished re-reading John Maxwell’s excellent book, Leadership 101. About halfway through, he writes about a sociological study conducted by Dr. Anthony Campolo in which fifty people over the age of ninety-five were asked one question: “If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?”
It was an open-ended question, but three answers constantly re-emerged:
- If I had to do it over again, I would reflect more.
- If I had to do it over again, I would risk more.
- If I had to do it over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.
These three regrets forced me to ask this question: “How can I avoid these regrets to the glory of God?”
Notice the addition of “glory of God.” The desire of a life spent well is to the glory of God’s Name, not the glory of ours.
So how can we avoid these specific regrets?
1) Both in solitude and with friends, reflect regularly on Scripture and God’s character.
Repeatedly, the Psalmist’s call us to reflection: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Reflect on God’s attributes and character. Reflect and meditate on Scripture regularly. Tell other Christians of God’s faithfulness in your life so you both can rejoice together (Romans 12:15). Think, ponder, and consider God’s goodness in the past to help you endure the present, and prepare your heart for the future. Remembrance, after all, is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life.
2) When God calls you to something, trust his Providence and take the risk.
I have some friends moving to a different part of the country to plant a church. They are low on resources, money, and people. They’re not really sure how things will turn out and many unanswered questions linger. How are they doing? More joyful than ever.
To be sure, the joy is mixed with fear, but there is a specific joy in obedience through the pathway of risk — a risk, of course, they feel called to take.
Major risk-taking is not something you do everyday. We should seek wise counsel (Proverbs 15:22), but like Ruth exposing herself to meet Boaz, every once in a while, you just gotta, well, take a risk.
What risk is God calling you to take?
3) Live for eternity.
This, above all, is perhaps the most important. John Piper says, “Obedience is your job; results is God’s job.” Our aim should be less about results, and more about stewarding our time, talent, and treasures for the glory of God, and the sake of eternity. This is what truly matters, this is what will truly last.
Let us look to Jesus in our endeavor to live well. He lived without sin. He died on the cross — in your place, for your sins — and rose from the dead. His perfect righteousness has been accredited to all who belong to him. Even if you do fail miserably, his grace covers all your mistakes, all yours flaws, all your regrets. The mere thought of trying to live without regrets can be overwhelming. But when you remember the gospel, when you remember Jesus’ finished work on your behalf — it alone holds the power to convict you to live well, to convince you to live for him, to compel you to live without regrets.
Questions and Comments: What are some practical things that Christians can do to help alleviate the possibility of regrets? Post your comments below.