New Beginnings

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Where do you go from here?
After you are restored, renewed, refilled and rebuilt, what do you do next?
We are bombarded with decisions every day of our lives.
Some are major decisions that can determine our destiny while some decisions are just ordinary,
such as what to eat for dinner and what clothes to wear to work.

But what is significant in any new beginnings is the choice to make the right decisions
that will bring the blessings.

Genesis 12 is an incident that records the instruction of God to Abraham of Ur to go to a place
that God has prepared for him and for his descendents.
So, Abraham and Lot left with all their families and went to a place between Bethel and Ai. (Genesis 13:3)

it was while they were at this place that they found out that the land was not able to support all of them (verse 6),
and to make matters worse, strife happened between the herdsman of Abram and the herdsman of Lot.

So Abram responded by saying to Lot in Genesis 13:8, 9 that they needed to make a choice
as to where they would move.
Lot chose the plains of Jordan which contained the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
That decision shaped the destiny of Abram as well as his descendents.

The decisions that we make for each day and for long-term will shape our destiny,
as well as that of our descendents.

For instance, a retail firm in a large city was forced to lay off almost 20% of its employees.
The personnel manager was asked what criteria he used to make the cuts.
He said, "We looked closely at attendance, productivity, personality and the measurable signs
of success or failure, but our real goal was to retain workers who were of the highest moral character.
We can never replace honesty and integrity

Integrity must be a priority in our lives.

To constantly achieve excellence in any endeavor we must make it our goal always to be and do
the very best we can, with or without an audience, in small tasks or in large tasks.

Michelangelo was painting in a dark corner of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
He was asked by his helper why he was investing so much time and effort in that part of the painting
that no one would ever see.
With deep conviction he replied, "God will see!"

I read a comment of one who said: "People will forget how fast you did the job,
but they will remember how well you did it."

The ability to perform again and again at a high standard often takes time, and doesn't necessarily come easy.
We must determine to never disappoint people or ourselves with our work.
We must make a commitment to take an extra minute before we consider any task completed,
and ask ourselves if it is the very best we could do.
If it is not, we must take the time to make it right.
That is the essence of being committed to excellence.

Let us consider some principles that will be helpful to us in our commitment to excellence.

First, seize good opportunities.

There's a story about a tourist who sat down for a rest on a park bench.
He looked at an old man also sitting on the bench, and the tourist asked,
"Friend, can you tell me something this town is noted for?"

The old man replied, "Well, I don't rightly know except that it is the starting point to the world.
You can start here and go anywhere you want

Somewhere I wrote down this concept: "Mediocre people wait for opportunities to come to them.
Strong, able, alert people go after opportunity

No opportunity is ever lost.
If you fumbled it, someone else will find it.
Make a commitment to seize opportunities by writing them down the moment they arise,
and schedule a time to pursue them.

Second, never stop improving.

Self-improvement is the only way to be a success in your field.
In his book, "Leaders", Warren Bennis wrote,
"It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers."

To all present leaders, your greatest challenge as a leader is not gaining on others,
but rather continually, growing yourself.
It is one thing to have been ineffective last year, but it is another to remain effective in the years to come.

As one author has said, "Standards of excellence are not chiseled in stone.
They are constantly being refined.
It is important to recognize that what was graded excellent last year may not be so this year.
That is why we must keep mastering new skills

Third, don't pursue immediate pleasure over personal growth.

An old Irish proverb says, "You've got to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather is."
Pursue growth to become the best you can, not just to acquire things.
Growth brings good things, but good things don't bring growth.
And growth, not pleasure, is the only guarantee of successful future.

Success is knowing your purpose in life, and growing to your maximum potential
and sowing seeds that benefit others.
Troy Aikman, former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys said,
"Success is not so much what we have, as it is what we are."

Fourth, we must not sacrifice quality of life for quantity of life.

Albert Schweitzer said, "The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up."

I heard a story about a president of a large company who sought the advice of a world-renowned professor.
After unloading all his worries on the professor, without much response, he decided to be quiet for a moment.

The professor then began to pour water from a pitcher into a crystal glass
until it began to overflow onto the table.
Bewildered, the president asked what he was doing.

The wise professor replied: "Your life is like the glass, flowing over.
There is no room for anything new.
You don't need to take more in, you need to pour more out

We must be careful that we don't get too busy that we neglect doing the things that matter most.
Bob Buford said, "Unless a person takes charge of both work and free time,
they will either be disappointed or disappear

So in conclusion, we must understand that there is much significance with new beginnings.
So we must pray that our new beginnings would be accompanied by these imperative decisions.
For the sake of our destiny and that of our descendents, let us seriously consider these principles today.

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White