- In what area of life are you currently starting over? What are the circumstances that led up to this?
- Why do you think it’s so easy to repeat our mistakes in the areas of life that matter most—finances, relationships, leadership, etc.?
- Think about a difficult circumstance from your past. What can you learn from that experience that would be valuable as you move forward?
- Have you ever made a snap decision because you felt time was against you? What happened?
- What mistakes do you want to avoid repeating?
NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.
The title of this series is Starting Over and the subtitle is “How to assure next time won’t be like last time”. “How to assure next time won’t be like last time.” So if you’re starting over a relationship, you’ve just gotten out of a marriage and you wanna get remarried, you just lost your job, you flunked out of school. These can be start-overs that are completely your fault. These can be start-overs that are completely other people’s fault. And isn’t it true, it’s mostly other people’s fault?
Sometimes it’s partly your fault and partly their fault, but mostly their fault. Right? So these are start-overs no matter where you are, if it’s your fault, somebody else’s fault. You got bumped out of that job. You deserve to be let go. You flunked out or the teacher didn’t do it right and it’s not really your fault, or the relationship didn’t work out again. Whatever it is, you’re having to start over, this series is for you. And the reason that I am so excited about this, is I’ve had a front row seat to watching lots, and lots, and lots of people though the years start over all kinds of things. And it just breaks my heart sometimes to see the mistakes that people make, and again, it’s always easier to watch somebody else’s life and know what they should do. We all have had that experience, but when you’re a Pastor, you see it so much of the time, you just wanna call a big time out for the whole world and go, “Okay, can we all just stop a minute, because there’s some basic things that if we’d all just do right, the next time will definitely be better from the last time.”
And here’s why. This is an interesting thing. We learn from our mistakes in the areas that matter least. We learn from our mistakes in the areas that matter least. Games, if you’re learning a new game, board game, you only make that mistake one time. You won’t make that mistake again. Sports, if you’re learning sports, you’re taking some sort of lessons for something to do better, you learn pretty quickly. Hobbies, putting toys together, putting computers together, texting. Remember when you first started texting, you made some really stupid errors and you said some things and other people got it. It’s “Uh-oh.” And then, you started direct messaging, and if you’re on Twitter, then you realize, “Uh-oh. I just think I told everybody in the world I love you. “Uh-oh.” “Enjoyed last night.” “That went where? Oh my gosh, how you… “
So anyway, there are certain mistakes, you only make them one time and then you’ve learned your lesson. And in the areas that matter the least, we seem to learn to the most, we learn the quickest. But we repeat, unfortunately, we repeat our mistakes in the areas that matter most: In the areas of finances, relationships, things we do with our kids, things we do at work, things we do at school. And after we repeat the same mistake a few times and suffer the same consequences, we ask ourselves this all-important question, “When will I learn? When will I learn? When will I learn?” And this is a really important question. And the reason it’s so important is because of this word, right here, “I”. Because the common denominator in all of your mistakes is you.
You follow yourself around, wherever you go, there you are. In your greatest regrets, there you are. And for some reason, you simply don’t learn as quick sometimes in the areas that matter most, as you do and the areas that matter least. So again, for years and years and years, I sit around and I watch these things happen. I watch people make mistakes.
And my thing is this, and I say this all the time, “Life has enough unavoidable pain.” If every one of your decisions was perfect, you’re still gonna have pain in life, there’s still gonna be disappointment in life. Things are just gonna go wrong sometimes.
So why in the world, add more pain to an otherwise, somewhat painful existence? Why in the world would we do things to ourselves? And so when I see people make unnecessarily bad decisions, financially, relationally, professionally, academically, it just kinda breaks my heart, because I think, “Now, that one could have been avoided.”
So, as we talk about starting over, beginning next week, I’m gonna give you three in row, I’m gonna three things that you just a bsolutely have to do, if you want next time to be better than the last time. But to kinda get us there today, I want to explore real quickly, three myths, and as soon as I put these on the screen, you’re gonna go, “Oh, yeah, I see that.” This isn’t rocket science. Sometimes we just need somebody to surface for us the assumptions that we’re operating from. And here are three assumptions I think we all make subconsciously, whom we think about starting over or moving on to a different chapter of life.
So, these three myths, real quickly, that drive people into bad decisions when they start over, myth number one is this, it’s called, “The Experience Myth.” Experience makes me wiser. Experience makes me wiser. Another is we think… Well, since being a lot of what I just gone through, I’m wiser for it. So, I just need to tell you, experience does not make you wiser. It makes you older, it makes you tired, it makes you poorer, it makes you madder, it makes you lonelier. But experience alone, does not make you wiser. The reason this is such a big deal is people say, “Oh, I don’t need to read that, I don’t need to learn. I’m ready to go. I know what to do. I know what to do next. I won’t ever repeat that, because I’ve had this bad experience.” You just need to know experience alone does not make you wiser. An experience one time doesn’t mean you’re any more prepared for the next time than you were the first time.
So, experience doesn’t make you wiser, here’s the key. Evaluated experience is what you makes wiser. So, one of the things we’re gonna do in the three weeks that follow is, I’m gonna give you some tools to help you evaluate your experience. Now, again, when I put this up here, nobody is like, “Oh my gosh, that never crossed my mind… ” This is true. You know this is true by watching other people. ‘Cause you’ve watched other friends make the same mistakes over and over and over. They never learned anything from the past, yet they had a past. They never learned anything from their previous experience, but they had a previous experience.
So, experience doesn’t guarantee anything, except that you’ve just possibly wasted some time, but evaluated experience can be a game changer. Evaluated experience set you up for success the next time. So, consequently, we’re gonna do a little evaluation in the next three weeks. The other myth is this; it’s called, “The Know Better Myth.” “Since I know better, I’ll do better.” Yeah, you laugh, because it’s like this is an assumption, “Since I know better, I’ll do better.” Now, I’ll tell you where I got the terminology for this was talking to my daughter, Ally, she’s 18-years-old. And a few weeks ago, she came in and we were talking about some stuff and she said, “You know, dad.” She said, “Kids,” now, she’s a high school student, so she’s talking about her friends. “Kids. They think that just because they know the difference between right and wrong, they’re automatically gonna do the right thing, or they think they have the strength to do the right thing.” I said, “That’s not just kids, that’s everybody.”
There is an assumption we have, that if now that we know the difference between right and wrong, now that we know better, then we’ll automatically do better, but “know better” does not equal “do better”, right? And this is why if you’re a parent… Or if you remember back when you were a kid, your parents would say, and they would tell you what’s right, what’s right, what’s right, and “Make sure you don’t, make sure you don’t, make sure you don’t,” and what would we say? We’d say, “I… ” That’s right, “I know, I know, I know,” and what we were saying to them is, “Mom, dad, since I know, therefore, I will do,” and they kept repeating themselves over and over and over because they know that knowing doesn’t always equal doing, but it’s worse than that, “know better” doesn’t equal the ability to do better.
Now here is why this is important when you think about starting over. You can think, “Well, I have had this experience I am wiser, now that I know better, I am sure I’ll do better.” There is no guarantee because in many cases, in many cases, knowing better doesn’t always equal the ability or the power or the self-control to do better. So simply knowing better doesn’t mean you are going to do any better next time around unless you evaluate your experience, and unless you make some personal changes. This is why, for many of you, your last bad relationship reflects your current bad relationship that’s going to carry on into your next bad relationship, and you keep thinking, “What’s wrong with all these people I am dating?
A couple of things. Number one, you picked him. You are a bad picker or they are picking you and you don’t know how to say “No”, but there is something you got to think and you’ve learned. “Oh I’ve learned, I’ve had experience.
So this is important. Knowing better doesn’t mean you’ll do better. Knowing better doesn’t mean you have the strength or the power or the self-control to do better. They are two completely different things and in order to make sure that next time is better than last time, you have to know that and you have to ask yourself the question, “Okay, if that is the case, now that I know better, what must I do before next time to ensure that I actually do better?”
The third myth is the time myth and this is the toughest one. “Time is against me, time is working against me, the clock is ticking I am not getting any… ” “Younger,” that is right. “I am not getting any younger. The opportunities are coming, the opportunities are going. All the other people my age, all the other people my age, all the other people my age, all the other people my age… All my friends all my friends, all my friends, all my friends.” And so we think the clock is ticking, “I need to get on with it. Time is wasting. I learned my lesson. I know better. I have had a bad experience. I am ready to jump right back in. I am ready to restart. I am ready to sign back up. I am ready to go out. I am ready to date. I am ready to be back on the market. I have learned my lesson. I will never go back there again, and I got to get with it because the clock is ticking, time is my enemy.” Absolutely false.
In fact, of all the myths, this is the most destructive one. I have a friend who is actually your friend as well, he and his wife volunteer at a church and they are a part of “2 To 1 Mentoring”. This is a program we have where couples spend time and disciple or mentor other couples who are about to get married, and so this particular gentleman is in a second marriage, and so he and his wife, they focus on couples who are moving into second marriages either for one or both people because there are specific things that happen in a second marriage that are more difficult; second marriages are generally more challenging especially if you are blending families or you have kids or grandkids, or you are still in a court battle. I mean, the second marriages can be very complex, so they enjoy interfacing and spending time week after week after week with couples who are entering and/or considering a second marriage.
And so I was talking to him not too long ago, and he said something that just completely confronts and I think, if you will allow it to, dismantles this whole sense of, “I got to hurry, I got to hurry, I got to hurry.” He said this, “We always tell couples, we always tell individuals who are considering a second marriage, “Time is your friend. It is not your enemy. Time is your friend.” We feel the opposite. We feel the clock ticking. We see the hour glass with the sand slipping away, and he says, and anyone who has been in that situation will tell you, “No, no, no.” I understand the rush, I understand the loneliness, I understand the, “Oh my gosh” and I understand what if he and what if she, and what if the last ship sails, and we get all that. Okay?
But time is your friend. And this is true of just about every kind of transition, from a first time to a second time. This is true every time and in every arena where you are starting over, and here is why, because when you have gone through something difficult either because of the decision you made, or a decision someone made about you, the truth is, you are a little bit out of balance and before you make another big life decision, you need to find balance. Emotions are like a temperature, they go up and they come down, but oftentimes they do not come down as fast as they go up, and you are carrying a little anger, you’re carrying a little bit of resentment, you are carrying a little bit of jealousy, you are carrying stuff you don’t know about. So consequently you are a little bit off balance. Your emotions are a little high. You are still dealing with some pain, you know when your physical temperature goes up, it is because there is something wrong with your body. When your emotional temperature goes up, it is because there is something wrong, especially if it stays up, and here is the thing, here’s the thing.
When you are in pain either physically, well we know this, physically, when you are in pain physically, you become very self-absorbed. When you are in pain emotionally, you become very self-absorbed. It’s not your fault, it’s the nature of pain.
Now I’ll tell where you’ve seen this. You have some friends that are going through some tough things and every time you have a conversation with them, you end up talking about their tough thing.
And we need people that will enter into our pain with us and walk through it, and let us tell our same story over and over and over, and let me guess. And it’s still her fault. It was her fault last week, it will be her fault… I know. That’s just life. Now here’s my point, that’s just part of the healing process, but self-absorbed people make self-absorbed decisions. They just do, you just do, I just do, we can’t help that. So consequently, jumping into whatever’s next before you’ve allowed the temperature to come down, before you’ve found your equilibrium, before you’ve found your balance is a dangerous thing. And here’s the thing as well; when you are healthy, you have clarity; and when you have clarity, you make better decisions, and until you have clarity, you have no business making decisions, but that takes time. And if you wait long enough, if you wait long enough, you will be able to hear things later that you can’t hear now. There are some things you need to hear, you can’t hear them, and it’s not your fault, it’s just that you’re not ready to hear them, but there are things that you need to hear before you move on to whatever’s next.
And not only are the things you’ll be able to hear later on, two weeks from now, a year from now. There will be some people that you’re able to listen to that you can’t hear from right now. They’ll be some people that you’ll be able to hear from. Some people who right now are trying to speak into your life, you just can’t hear them. And it’s not because you don’t want to, you just can’t. Time is your friend, but it feels like your enemy.
Now again, listen to me say that you’re like, “Andy, I know what you think, I would think the same thing.” You’re thinking, “Andy, for everybody else I’m sure that’s true, but if I can come up there and tell you my story, every body would go, ‘Oh you need to jump in, you need to move, you need to go.'” No, time is your friend. And the reason people rush is because they are convinced personally that their situation is different. Now I hate to tell you this ’cause this might hurt your feelings, okay? Your circumstances may be unique, but you’re not.
Your challenges may seem unique, but you’re not. And after you hear enough stories, you will realize that not even your challenges and not even your circumstances are all that unique.
Now, here’s the interesting thing, as I was thinking through all this and trying to figure out there’s so much you can say on this topic, I thought, “I wonder if there’s any illustrations in the Bible of people who had like a first time and a second time.’ And as I began to just think through the characters and the narratives in the Bible, there are so many, and I’m not gonna teach through this, in fact the next three weeks we’re not even gonna look at any of this, but it’s just so interesting the people that God used in a significant way, the people that God used in a significant way, who’s stories are recorded in Old and New Testament, every single one of them just about, every single one of them had a first time, a failure and then a second time. The most famous possibly is Moses, who’s born into the household of Pharaoh, he realizes, “I’m not an Egyptian, I may walk like an Egyptian, talk like an Egyptian but I’m not an Egyptian, I’m a Hebrew.” So he decides, “Hey, we need to do something about all this Hebrew slavery.” Gets in a fight, kills a guy, has to leave the country, and then eventually, he comes back second time around and he’s the Saviour of Egypt, of Israel rather. It’s the story that made Moses famous.
But there was a first time and there was a second time. A David, King David the same thing. He’s anointed to be the king of Israel, he goes to live with Saul who’s the king, he’s living in the palace, he’s got it all going on, Saul gets jealous, kicks him out. There’s an interval of time, David comes back and eventually, he’s the king.
The stories go on and on and on and on. But here’s the part of the stories that you’re gonna hate and that I hate. In every single instance, in the old and New Testament, where there was a first round and a second round, there was an interval of years, years, for Moses, 40 years before he shows up for round two, that’s encouraging, isn’t it? You’re going… Right?
For David, we’re not sure, somewhere between eight and 12 years by the… When he gets kicked out before he shows up again to be the King of Israel
Not only was there this gap of time, two things emerged in these people’s lives that I wanna see happen in your life. Two things, you know what happens? They come back with these two things, a divine sense of destiny and abiding humility. A divine sense of destiny, when they show back up, it’s like, “God is up to something and I get to be a part of it, an abiding sense of humility, no matter what God does through me, I’m not gonna get all proud and arrogant about it.”
And here’s what I’ve seen. Then, I’m gonna wrap this up. So, listen to this part. As I have watched hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of people through the years navigate first time, second time well and navigate first time, second time, third time not so well, people who waited and allowed God to prepare them for what was next versus people who said, “Time is wasting. I gotta jump in. I’ve learned my lesson. I know better. I’m sure I’ll do better.” Here’s what I’ve seen: There is always more time in the in between than they’re comfortable with, and when they get this right, they emerge with this divine sense of destiny. They come out on the other side and they say things like this, “God is up to something in my life. God has a purpose for my life.” They even say things like this. They say, “You know what? I wouldn’t trade anything for the lessons I learned in round one. I wouldn’t trade anything for what I learned in that tough relationship. I know those people had no right to kick me out of the company and I know they promised me partnership. Next thing they know, they sold the company. I didn’t get anything and you know what? I was so angry. I was such a victim. It was devastating, but I’m telling you what I learned, what I took away, I’m such a better person. I feel like God has something for me.” They emerge from those situations when they handle them well with a sense of destiny, and this sense of abiding humility that God is up to something.
Now, that’s not natural. I understand that, but you know what, I want that for you and here’s why because many of you are gonna have to start over with something, and you might as well get it right and you might as well allow God to redeem which means add value to your past instead of you looking back and thinking, “What a complete waste of time, what a complete waste of life.” And here’s why this is important and this isn’t a bad thing. This is a just a thing thing. When we start off in anything new, we dream big dreams. We have big ambitions and I think God put that in us. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
The problem is, and I don’t think there’s any way around this, but in round one of everything, it’s just really about us and if you pray, this is how you pray. “God, help me to make an A! God help me to find the perfect person for me so we can have a marriage that reflects you, but is a lot of fun too, and God help me… ” I don’t think anything’s wrong with that, but the thing is in every first round of just about anything, even if you’re a Christian, it’s just kind of about us. It’s how we pray. It’s how we plan. Then we discover life’s not perfect. There are no perfect marriages and there are no perfect kids. And there are no perfect families. There are no perfect jobs.
Life is just messy, but here’s what I’ve discovered, that when you’re emerging from a round one of whatever it is, and that doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna be successful or successful in some of the things you do. I don’t mean that. I mean when life bumps you out, somebody else bumps you out, or you bump yourself out, if you will allow God to do something between round one and round two, if you will allow God to do something in you before you start over, you will move into the next phase or the season of your life with a sense of destiny.
God’s up to something and there’s a sense of humility. “I’m gonna work hard. I’m gonna set goals. I’m gonna do my best. I’m gonna reach for the stars, but I’m doing this under the canopy that God is up to something and I’m giving God all the credit. I’m working hard. I’m more disciplined than I’ve ever been. I’m gonna do all the stuff you need to do, but I don’t feel like everything hinges on me anymore. I already did that once.” A divine sense of destiny, an abiding sense of humility. Now, you know people like that. You’re sitting with some people like that today. Maybe you’re watching with some people like that today. Maybe you’re one of those people. I just want that for any of you that are in the midst of a transition, because the next time can be better than last time. So, I wanna leave you with one verse today.
Next week, we’ll look into some more passages of scripture. But I wanna leave you with a verse that if you grew up in church you’ve heard many times. You’ve heard possibly talked about before. If you’re not a church person, you may have heard somebody reference this and maybe you didn’t even know it was in the New Testament. But it comes from the Apostle Paul, who certainly had a big round one and then an even bigger round two with 14 or so years in the middle. Having done some things that he was so embarrassed about. A past, I mean, the Apostle Paul dragged around a past that was so embarrassing that it was difficult for him in the early years to even be around Christians. Because all of the Christians he was around knew what he had done. And it was embarrassing, it was public and there was nothing he could do to make it go away.
And yet he saw God leverage that and actually use his past to set him up for what he was to do in the future. So with all that in mind, he writes to some Christians who live in Rome, and here’s what he said. He said, “And we know,” which means Paul says, “We’re confident about this. And we know that in all things.” And “all things” in this context are all circumstances. That no matter what has happened, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what was done to you, the Apostle Paul says, “I’m telling you. God’s grace is as big as your experience. God’s grace is as big as anything that’s happened to you or anything that you’ve done. We know that in all things,” check out these next two words, “God works.” God works. This is so powerful.
It means that if you get this right. It means that if you’re willing to take a deep breath, maybe hit the ‘Pause’ button, back off a little bit. Decide, “Hey just because I’ve had an experience doesn’t mean I’ve learned anything. Just because I know better doesn’t mean I’ll do any better.” He say, “If you will allow him to, God will work through and in even that segment of your life, that chapter of your life, that weekend of your life, that week, that experience of your life that you think, “I just wish it would go away. I’ve gotta start over and I can never look back.” The Apostle Paul says, Here’s what we know. “God can work and use all things.” And here’s what we’re going to talk about for the next three weeks.
“God wants to use all things.” My opinion, if you don’t allow God to use all things, then all those things will come back to haunt you. But if you respond in such a way that you allow God to use all those things, all those things will show up in the future and potentially benefit you and benefit someone else. He continues, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.” And in this context it’s those that have said, “God, I want your way more than my way.” “God, I love you, which means I recognize you’re God and I’m not. You’re the Lord and I’m not. You’re the potter, I’m the clay. Your will is more important than my will.” He says, “For all of those who love God that God works and can use anything and work through anything, and redeem or bring value to anything to those that love God.” And then here’s how he completes this. “And who have been called according to His purpose.”
This is so big. I’ve seen it. Some of you’ve seen it. Some of you don’t believe it. Some of you think, “No, if I told my story I’d be the exception,” but I’m just telling you, God can leverage purpose out of anything if you invite him to. Your Heavenly Father can leverage and bring purpose to anything if you’ll allow him to. But if you rush, if you just move on, if you think you’ve learned all the lessons, if you don’t think there’s anything to evaluate, you will simply have another round that reflects the first round, and possibly you’ve learned nothing. And there will be nothing to leverage and there will be nothing good that comes from it until you’re finally willing to submit and to surrender to the Heavenly Father who loves you. So that’s what we’re going to talk about. How to do that, for the next three weeks.
Because the good news is this. Next time can be better than last time. But not just because you want it to, but because you’re gonna plan for it to be. Not just because you want it to be better. We all want it to be better. But we, together, for the next three weeks are going to learn how to plan for it to be. We’re gonna do away with those myths. Just because I had an experience doesn’t mean I’ve learned anything. Just because I know better doesn’t mean I’m gonna do better. And just because I’m in a hurry, doesn’t mean that I need to be in a hurry. And if while it looks like time is wasting, perhaps it’s in that time that God is working and preparing a better future for you.