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The Law That Breaks You (If You Don’t Obey It)

Yesterday on “Wellness Wednesday,” we discussed the importance of sleep for your overall health. One thought that kept bothering me the whole time I was writing it was the idea that a lot of driven people like me seem to have:

“I’ve gotta keep my nose to the grindstone at all costs. I can sleep when I’m dead. There’s so much to do and I have to work like a maniac to get to the top.”

Of course, that’s not a direct quote, per se, but it is the gist of how so many business leaders, executives, and ladder-climbers think. I hear them in my office, at business mixers, at chiropractic seminars, and at church, so I know it’s out there. I’ve even heard it in my own head. Like I shared yesterday, driving hard is a real temptation for me, too. I’m in the middle of retooling my practice and it would be really easy for me to work all day and night to get things where I want them.

But then I would be dead, and that would hurt the practice.

I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again, so I’m putting it in writing for myself as much as for you.

The System Is Rigged…For You

You’ve probably observed this in your own life, or maybe in the life of someone you know, but you can work like a machine for years and never get ahead. You can also make a ton of money year over year and hate your life.

Why is that?

It turns out, the system is rigged.

Some people immediately throw up their hands (and their favorite presidential candidate’s poster) and yell, “See?! I told you! The system is rigged to keep me down! They’re conspiring against me!” (whoever ‘they’ are).

That’s not exactly what I meant.

If you’re working like a madman and can’t seem to get ahead, it’s not the government working against you. It’s the Law of Promotion.

Think about laws of physics for a moment:

  • The Law of Gravity says that, no matter what other factors may be in play, what comes up must come down. If you walk off the edge of your roof, you will fall.
  • The Law of Motion states that a body continues in its state of constant velocity (which may be zero) unless it is acted upon by an external force. It never changes; it always works.

Laws of nature never change and work consistently in all applications. Some of them apply to physics and others apply to life. For example, the Law of Sowing and Reaping states that, whatever you sow, you reap. If you plant corn, you will always harvest corn. If you are a jerk, someone will be a jerk to you. Some people call it “karma,” while others call it “what goes around comes around.” It’s the same law, and it always works.

The Law of Promotion works like that. It says that, if you are faithful with little, you will be entrusted with much.

We see it throughout the Greatest Success Book Ever Written (the Bible):

  • Jesus taught a parable about three managers who were entrusted with a portion of their boss’s business. The ones who were faithful to take care of his affairs while he was away got promoted because they were trustworthy, but the one who wasted his potion was fired.
  • There are also several Proverbs that say things like, “Do you see a man who is excellent in his work? Just watch. Eventually, he will serve before kings, not in obscurity.”
  • We see stories of guys like Joseph, who served his bosses with excellence, even when circumstances turned very bad for him. Eventually, he was promoted to the number two position under the Pharaoh. (Vice Pharaoh?)

So, the system is rigged, but it’s rigged to help you: if you are faithful with little, you will be entrusted with more.

Not What You Think

This would be an obvious place for my hard-charging friends to assert:

“But that’s just it…I’ve been working my tail off for years and I’m not getting the promotions or raises I want. I’ve given up my evenings, weekends, vacations, and my kids’ birthdays and it just seems like I’ve plateaued. What gives?”

Well, let’s take a look at that.

Sure, you’re working like a machine, but at what cost?

  • Are you spending time with your kids, or just buying them things to make up for your absence?
  • Are you making your spouse a priority, or just mailing it in after work.
  • Do you do anything to help the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the prisoner, or to further the Gospel?
  • Do you honor your boss and company, or do you grumble and complain behind their backs?
  • Do you work with excellence and diligence every moment you’re on the clock?
  • Are you honest and ethical with your expense reports? Your production reports?

Yeah, this is hard talk. But if you want to be trusted with much, you have to be willing to take a hard, honest look at yourself. Being faithful with little involves ruthless honesty. If you’re willing to cut corners where you think people can’t see, then you’re not faithful with little, and you’re not qualified to be entrusted with much.

Integrity opens the door to abundance. The lack of integrity closes it.

It Starts At Home

But more than anything, being faithful with little starts at home. I’ve talked to so many people who were hell-bent on building their business, their practice, their church, or their project, to the point that they didn’t know their families anymore. Their lives had become a nightmare that they didn’t want to go home to at night.

Case Study: Erin

Erin is a chiropractor in California. She was working 80 hours a week building her practice and ruining her family. Her staff was in constant turmoil. She and her husband hated each other. She was miserable, stuck, and a million dollars in debt.

Then one day, she backed her hours down to 30 hours a week. Now, she has multiple offices around the city, a staff that loves to come to work, and a family that adores her. She’s debt-free and travels all over the world doing missions work. All because she backed down her hours.

Why?

As much as it seems like she was being faithful with her business, she was not being faithful with anything else. She was neglecting her marriage, her kids, and her spiritual life, so she was failing life. The Law of Promotion was holding her back just like gravity.

Proverbs also explains that prosperity will ruin someone whose priorities are out of order (Proverbs calls them “fool”). That’s because money makes you more of who you already are. If your life is out of balance, having more money will just make your imbalance all the more dangerous. If you’re addicted to drugs, having more money will just promote you to more serious drugs. If you have a debt habit, making more money will actually put you farther in debt.

Case Study: Dani

Dani was a top-producing sales manager with hundreds of agents all over the world, and she worked 100 hours a week. She had a heart attack at age 24 and a nervous breakdown at age 25. Forced to cut back, she started working 20 hours a week. She was certain that her business would collapse and she would be broke (and maybe homeless), but she was too exhausted to press anymore. That year after she cut her hours, her income tripled. Now, she owns several companies, works 20 hours a week or less, and homeschools her children.

Why?

Because one night, while she was praying, she felt God say to her, “if you will be faithful to steward the husband and children I’ve given you, I will take care of your business.” So she did, and He fulfilled His part. She focused on caring for her family, and He taught her how to make her work times more productive.

I submit to you today that message was not just for her, but for all of us.

Being faithful starts with priorities:

  • I believe that God wants to be the first priority in your life. You might disagree with me on that, and that’s fine. I’ll let you and God work that out. But I believe the rest is true.
  • Your next priority should be your spouse. If you don’t protect your marriage, it will hurt your kids.
  • Your next priority should be your kids.
  • THEN your work.
  • THEN your hobbies.

If we will trust God by obeying this simple law He instituted, He promised that the law will work for us instead of against us. He will bless your business. He will show you how to be successful. He will be the all-wise voice behind you saying, “this is the way…walk in it.” You can’t violate the Law of Gravity without getting hurt. So, too, the Law of Promotion. As long as you fight it, it fights you.

How Does This Play Out In Real Life?

  • If your kids have a game or a concert that conflict with work…which do you choose?
  • If your spouse and your kids need to talk to you when you walk in the door, who gets to talk first?
  • If your work schedule consistently keeps you out of church, do you try to negotiate for a schedule change, or just leave it?
  • If your boss offers you a promotion, but you would have to do something you know is unethical, what do you do?
  • If Saturday is your only day off, do you spend it at home or on the golf course?
  • When you get a bonus at work, what do you do with it?
  • You have 168 hours in every single week. How many go to your work? How many go to your family? How many go to sleep/health?

No matter what you say your priorities are, your real priorities are reflected in your choices.

But What About…?

This would be an obvious place to challenge me with, “What about So-and-So, the unethical billionaire who made his fortune doing bad things? He wasn’t faithful with little.”

Well, maybe.

In Psalm 73, David was holding this very complaint out before the Lord. He saw people who had become rich and forgotten to honor God or had gotten rich without ever having acknowledged God. Either way, they eventually come to a bad end, and that’s between Him and them. Besides, in the long run, only God knows what is really going on. If you had been Erin’s patient or Dani’s employee, you might have thought they had it all, but clearly their lives were in shambles behind the scenes. Don’t be duped by appearances. That person you envy might just be envying you.

Wellness Is Comprehensive

I know we covered a lot of ground here today, but I think it’s important to understand that wellness is not just physical. I started writing “Think Right Thursdays” because you are a multi-faceted being, not just a body. Wellness includes your mind, spirit, body, relationships, and finances. You have to address them all or, like a stool, the weakest leg will destabilize the whole stool.

If this was a good wake-up call for you, like it was for me, I encourage you to share it. You never know who else’s life is headed for disaster, even while it looks like everything is going great. And if you’ve already been through this lesson, I’d love to hear how you got through it and what you learned. Tell your story in the comments on Facebook, and share your insights with the growing Fundamental Facebook Family. We’re all learning from each other here.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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