Warm Up Time! 5 exercises to stretch your thinking and prepare you for your dreams. When I was in college at Texas Tech University, I wanted to be a college cheerleader so bad! I was a cheerleader all through High School and loved every minute of it! Cheerleading was my life! I dreamed about it. I made up routines. I loved cheering at the games, pep rallies and competitions. I was “Miss School Spirit” – if you know what I mean.
By my Senior year of college, I decided to try out for the new squad. I prayed for it. I could see it. I could picture me at the Red Raider football games with 50,000+ fans screaming. People were encouraging me to try out. I even took extra gymnastic classes during the Christmas holidays. I stretched. I practiced. I got more and more stable doing stunts without falling. I was determined and ready.
Tryout practices started and I went! I was giving it my best. One night, I was in the locker room at the athletic center with my friends and one of them commented on my “toe touch” jumps. Somebody said, “Let me see your toe touches.” Without stretching beforehand, I jumped into a toe touch and instantly, it felt like the most painful rip in my muscle all the way down the back of my thigh. I fell down and was hurting so bad, I couldn’t even walk.
Needless to say, the pulled muscle was so bad that it ruined my chances of even trying out. With it being my senior year, it was my last and only shot of going for that dream. All because I didn’t warm up, it cost me a dream. Strangely, all these years later, it still isn’t totally back to normal all because of one night – jumping without being ready.
Recently, I was reminded of that incident in my prayer time when I kept hearing the Lord say, “It’s warm-up time!” I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that until I remembered that story of college cheerleading tryouts. And so I’ve discovered the same principle applies in our own lives of warming up before you ‘play the game’ or before you pursue the dreams God has given you. If you don’t warm up, it could cost you your dream.
Nobody likes “warming up.” We want to play the game, we don’t want to spend time stretching. It’s boring. But what most people don’t realize is that most injuries occur in the first 6 minutes of exercise; however, if they had properly warmed up, it could eliminate those injuries. Well, Satan would love to wipe you out within the first 6 months of you pursuing your assignment. And he can do that if you’re not properly trained or prepared.
Here are 3 benefits to warming up (physically):
1. Increase performance.
2. Reduce/prevent injuries.
3. Prevent early fatigue.
I believe you can take those same three benefits and apply them to preparing or being ready for God to use you in a new way.
“If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
In other words, preparation time is never wasted time. You may be wondering why nothing is happening in your life, you’re getting upset and discouraged, but God is saying, “Prepare. Get ready. Warm up.” God has a specific assignment that only you can carry out. Satan has a specific assignment to destroy your life. How much would he love to decrease your performance because you weren’t properly trained and ready for the new thing God wants to do in your life? How much would he love to injure you emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and put you out of business? How much would Satan love for you to be so fatigued that you grow weary in well doing and end up turning back to your old life?
“Before anything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” – Henry Ford
How do you “warm up” so you’re ready when God says, “it’s time to step out?”
Set goals for yourself
One of the most critical elements of success is setting goals. Don’t just live day to day without setting personal goals for growth. You may want to establish a yearly goal of reading 6 new books. Or it could be a goal of hearing a faith-building CD at least one hour every day this month. If you don’t set goals for yourself personally, you will be in the same place year after year after year. Success doesn’t happen without a plan. People who succeed and tap into the potential God gave them, do it because they set personal goals for themselves.“Where there are no goals, neither will there be significant accomplishments. There will only be existence.” – Anonymous
Setting goals gives you a reason to get up. It gives you something to aim towards. It keeps you young. Someone once said that without a goal, it’s difficult to score. What’s the point in playing the game, if you don’t have a goal? Well, you are in the game of life and God has a personal, unique plan just for you. It won’t happen just wishing for it. You have to prepare for it. Take strategic steps towards your dreams by setting goals that stretch you and cause you to come up higher.
You can set goals in the area of your relationship with God or in building your faith or in keeping your home clean and peaceful. I used to set the same “New Year’s Resolution” year after year of “getting closer to God this year.” The problem was I never set any personal goals on exactly “how” I would do that. So, consequently, nothing changed. It’s like saying, “I want to lose weight this year,” but never determining how much weight, what you’re going to do in order to lose the weight, and when you’re going to do it. It won’t happen without a goal, a plan, a strategy.
Write your goals down
Once you determine the areas where you need to set goals (i.e., faith, finances, fitness, etc), then you need to write them down. Written goals prove you’re serious, you are committed. You can’t just leave your goals in your head.
“Goals not written down are just wishes!” – Anonymous
Habakkuk 2:2 even says, “Write the vision and make it plain upon paper…” Taking the time to sit down and write out what you want to accomplish this month, this quarter, this year keeps you focused. It is worth the hours it takes to think about it, visualize it and write it down. When Satan comes along and tells you that you’re wasting your time, you’re not going to succeed, your dreams are foolish, it will never happen to you…you can get out your goals and declare, “It is written!”
Remember goals should always be: measurable, realistic, written, and have a deadline. It is so important that you don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. All that does is leave you feeling like a failure, but the truth is, your goals were completely unrealistic. Don’t set a goal to read the entire Bible in the 1st quarter of this year if you can only allot 2 hours a week to reading. It’s unrealistic. Set goals that stretch you but don’t break you.
We can’t ever accept the mindset of knowing “just enough” to get by. It’s important that you consistently educate yourself in the area you feel called to pursue. If it’s parenting your small children right now, then educate yourself with books and material on that subject (healthy meals, playtime, discipline, etc). If your dream is to open your own store, educate yourself by reading books and learning from others. If you feel called into full time ministry, educate yourself in the Word more than you ever have before. Be specific about which books you want to read. Write it down. Go buy the book.
I told the staff at JSMI that I want to establish a “learning culture.” And we have. We have reading assignments and times where we come together and share what we’re learning. It challenges us to come up higher, keep growing, learning and stretching. I just thought that after I got my degree I wouldn’t need to study again! And I was thrilled about that…until I discovered this quote:
“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Bruce Barton
Look for opportunities to educate yourself. Learn everything you can about the Word, about the pursuit you feel God has called you to. Become an expert in your field. Remember confidence is gained in the areas where you have the most knowledge, and the Bible says we have to study to show ourselves approved. (II Timothy 2:15)
Appoint a time to go after your goals
Habakkuk 2:2 continues to say, “…though the vision tarry, wait for it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time.” You have to appoint a time to go after your dreams, your goals. Goals are never achieved simply because they are thought about and written down. You have to designate a time on your weekly calendar, your hour-by-hour time map, to physically pursue your goals.
If your goal is to read Dad’s book “Increase God’s Way,” then you need to look at your schedule and see where you have uninterrupted time to sit down for a good 30 minutes and focus on nothing but reading. If it’s Saturday mornings at 8:00a.m. while the rest of the family is asleep, then do it. Pencil it in. Schedule it. And stick to it. Assign a time to go after your dreams, and you will see noticeable changes in your growth, your faith, your confidence, and your knowledge.
I believe this is one of the biggest areas that causes us to give up on our goals and it’s as simple as sitting down and making time to do them. Whether it’s setting a goal for family time, working out, keeping up with the laundry, etc, schedule time to do it. Don’t prioritize your schedule; you must schedule your priorities. Having the knowledge, the faith and the confidence to step out into your divine calling is a priority.
Tap into the wisdom of those you admire
There are people that God has raised up to mentor us. They have the very wisdom you need. And you don’t have to appoint 3 hours a day to sit down and read their life stories. You can be mentored by them through their CDs just while you’re driving to work or getting ready or doing laundry.
I heard Erik Lawson say, “I have spent time with Michael Jordan, John Maxwell, Oral Roberts, T.D. Jakes and Bill Gates.” We all stared at him with our mouths open. Then, he said, “I’ve never met any of them, but I listen to their CDs every morning for 20 minutes while driving to work. I read their books in every pocket of time I can find.” You can learn from others’ successes by observing their lifestyle, watching them, listening to them and reading about them. Look for people you admire. Invest in your dreams by investing in them. Absorb everything you can from their ministries and businesses. Someone once said, “You can acquire decades of information in only a few hours.” And let’s face it, when you’re warming up for your assignment, you need wisdom more than anything else.
If you’ve noticed, there’s an acronym in the points I’ve shared with you and it spells: SWEAT! Nobody likes to sweat, especially us girls. But sweat proves you’re taking action, you’re doing something that will produce results. I believe when God calls, you won’t have to say, “Hang on. I’m not ready yet…” and miss your opportunity. Instead, you will be warmed up, knowledgeable, confident and full of faith ready to step out into whatever God calls you to do. So, go ahead, let ‘em see you sweat!