Life Lessons for All Higher Ground Seekers

Higher ground statue

Keep climbing to higher ground.

Exerts from: In Search of Higher Ground

Regardless of what mountain you are setting out to climb, you are going to be faced with challenges. Marriage has its challenges, but it’s a great experience. Parenting has its difficulties, but there’s nothing like the love from a child. Standing in front of a crowd and receiving a degree is wonderful, but it is preceded by hard work and a variety of challenges. The freedom that comes from owning your own successful business is terrific, but it does not come without its share of problems. Any Higher Ground goal you have for your life will have its share of problems.

I have been privileged to be a part of wonderful projects in my life. Some have failed, some have succeeded, but all have had their challenges. The climb has never been perfect for me or for anyone I know. The problem is that many individuals start off with good intentions of reachiing their goals, but the give up too quickly. Hershey Walker, the famous NFL runningback, said, “My God given talent is my ability to stick with something longer that anyone else.”  That’s what it takes to achieve your desires. You must be willing to work hard and stick it out. It is not necessarily your talent or ability that gets you to the top, it is your tenacious spirit that never gives up. I have found that people tend to give up early in the climb for one of two reasons:

1. FEAR

I have talked about this before, but it bears repeating that fear keeps us from climbing. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and/or fear of what others may say or think. Fear of not having enough talent, ability or education. Fear attacks our minds, grips our heart, and chokes potential from our life. Fear is a funny thing. It’s being afraid of something that has not happened and has not been proven. It’s like a child being afraid of the dark. When my little girl was a toddler, she didn’t want me to shut the lights off. I sat down beside her and said, “Close your eyes.” She closed them tightly and then I asked, “What do you see?” “Nothing,” she said. Then I said, “Open your eyes,” she did and then I asked her, “Now how can you be afraid of nothing.” In search of higher ground Now that sounds like a logical point, unfortunately it didn’t work, the light stayed on. As adults, we fear what we cannot see or cannot predict, but we allow this fear to control us like helpless children. Next time you are overcome by fear, remember the words of John L. Mason, “Tell fear to go jump in the lake.”

2. FAILURE

Another reason people give up on the climb to the top is because of failure. Something didn’t go right, a plan fell through, and rather than pick ourselves up and continue climbing, we throw in the towel and let failure get the best
of us. Charles Goodyear purchased an Indian rubber life preserver out of curiosity. He began to experiment with the idea of making a weatherproof type of rubber. It was a known fact that the rubber would become hard as stone in the cold weather or melt in the hot weather.

Mr. Goodyear sank all his money into experimenting with this rubber. For five years he worked at this project. In fact, his family sacrificed their standard of living because of Mr. Goodyear’s obsession with his experiment. Finally, after thousands of dollars and countless hours, his experiment worked. He figured out a way to make a weatherproof rubber. Out of humiliation, hardship and defeat, Charles Goodyear won. He turned failure into success and defeat into victory all because he wouldn’t allow failure to be the final answer in his life.

Your climbing companions may let you down

There is nothing like the joy of having people climb with you on your way to the top. I have dedicated an entire chapter to this concept, and I have dedicated my life to help others succeed and to be climbing companions with me. There is such a joy to journey with others, to experience the ups and downs of life with people who share a common purpose with you. Over the years I have been honored to partner with incredible people. I have brought out the best in them and they have brought out the best in me. I love working with my staff, being their friends, partners in purpose, and being each others’ greatest fans. However, the reality is that along the way people are going to hurt you. There are people that you will pour your life into and they will, in the end, bring pain to your heart.

Realizing that people will let you down, you must determine before you ever journey to the top, that your faith in the human spirit will not be shaken. You cannot allow yourself to ever become isolated, because part of the joy in your journey is partnership, and sharing the experience with others! You cannot determine that because people let you down, that you must do it all yourself. When someone attempts to do it all themselves, they limit their effectiveness. You cannot accomplish more work with less people, and in addition you will rob yourself of the joy that’s found in helping others succeed. Finally, because people will let you down, you will be tempted to doubt others. You will begin to feel that people cannot be trusted. The result will be that your relationships with other climbing companions will always be limited because the shadow of doubt in the human spirit will be lingering in your heart. People will let you down…but never stop believing in others and never determine that your journey will be better if traveled alone.

Enjoy the scenery

My good friend Wes Beavis once said to me, “Chris, remember that the path you are on is a marathon not a sprint, it is a journey not a destination.” He was encouraging me at a time in my life where I was so focused on tomorrow that I was not enjoying today. I must admit that I fall into this trap quite often. I will find myself so focused on the future, and as soon as the future becomes the present, I focus on the future again. It is a trap that robs me of the joy of life. I must constantly be reminded by those closest to me to keep reaching forward in the race, but don’t forget to enjoy it.

Remember, that although we want to obtain our goals to see our dreams become reality and to be known as a Higher Ground climber, we must never become so busy with our futures that we forget the present. There are marriages that need to be nurtured and children who desperately need our attention. There are friendships that need to be cultivated, love that needs to grow, and joy that needs to blossom. Our Creator did not make us to be so over burdened by life that it robs us of the joy of living.

I am thankful for my wife and two children, who have a perfect way of lifting me to Higher Ground while keeping my feet on Solid Ground. My wife wants me to succeed, but never allows me to forget what really matters in life. She helps me remember what I always say to others, “No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time at the office.” Let me encourage you to keep reaching for Higher Ground, but never forget to water your own ground -the ground you call home, family, and friends. Water them with your love and affection, and your journey to the top will never lack the joy your life was meant to have.

If you keep climbing, eventually you’ll make it

Life has a way of clearing a path for the Higher Ground seeker. For those who want to be more, do more, see more, and become more, life holds a special door open that leads them to the top. Every person who has accomplished something great or has seen their dreams lived out, has faced their challenges, but has found the timeless truth that if you keep climbing, eventually you’ll make it to the top.

Throughout the course of my life I have seen this truth lived out in me. I have watched with my own eyes how a path seems to open up whenever I become determined to reach Higher Ground. The key however is in the phrase “keep climbing.” It’s the ability to move forward and upward and never ever stop reaching. There is an old Christmas cartoon where the characters sing a song that says, “Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out that door.” You can change the words for your own inspiration and say, “If I put one foot in front of the other, eventually I’ll make it to the top.” Cosider this, if you don’t out one foot in frount of the other, it’s a garentee that you won’t get anywhere. If you’re a Higher Ground seeker, your only choice is to march forward and upward…so keep marching!

ONE FINAL THOUGHT

Set your course towards the top of the mountain where your dreams have been waiting for you. Brush away the dust of insecurity and fear and wipe away the filth of a failed past and begin to see clearly all that you once thought impossible. It is only then that you can breathe life into your dreams! Destiny awaits you, so embrace it with all your might! Stay focused, march forward and never settle. Our personal paths may never cross, but if we set our sights at the top I am confident that we will see each other on Higher Ground.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach.”

– John Muir

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About Chris Sonksen

Chris Sonksen is the founder and Lead Pastor of South Hills Church and has an exceptional ability to inspire both secular and non-secular audiences. Under his leadership, South Hills has experienced phenomenal growth and in just a few short years has grown from a handful of people to nearly 3000 in attendance today. Today South Hills has become a thriving, multi-service and multi-site church. Chris has a magnetic, captivating and humorous style for motivating and inspiring all audiences. As a motivational speaker, he has spoken both nationally and internationally in companies such as Verizon, Securitas and Home Depot, and there is no doubt that by applying his teachings, his audience will improve the quality of their lives! Chris is the author of two books In Search of Higher Ground and Handshake. Chris is the founder of Celera Church Strategy Group an organization with an unwavering commitment to excellence in all things, with the goal to “raise the national average of church attendance,” by equipping church leaders with resources and coaching. Chris brings high-energy focus and a passion for vision and leadership to encourage and equip the local Church. Chris is a native Californian, born in Long Beach and currently resides in Corona with his wife, Laura and their two children, Grace and Aidan.

Posted on November 16, 2010, in goal setting, Habits, influence, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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