Open Road Press

Avoiding Friendly Fire

Debbie and I were cycling in North Dakota on our coast-to-coast tour in 2010 when, suddenly, she noticed a clatter from her rear wheel. A bungee cord had detached and was threatening to rip out some of her spokes. She soon realized that one of her street shoes was gone, a casualty of the poorly secured cord. Earlier, in Montana, we were cycling along enjoying the day when her rear rack came crashing to the ground. We had not been diligent to tighten and secure the rack screws. Weeks later, we were caught at dusk fumbling through our gear trying to locate our lights. A perilous ride down a long descent grew more concerning by the moment as darkness set in. I had forgotten where I put the lights. These incidents point to a type of friendly fire, where our inability to manage our own affairs threatened our timely and safe passage to our destination.

Life can be full of pitfalls, and many of them are self-imposed. How do you avoid friendly fire in your own life? And why does it occur in the first place? Yes, things can get out of control at the worst times when we fail to manage our lives well. There are several factors at play. First, we tend to get distracted by this increasingly complex world that entices us with all sorts of amenities not availed to earlier generations. Technology and abundance have brought us to new and exciting places. But with these additional blessings comes the challenge and the obligation to manage them well–or else be swallowed up in their cumbersome clutches. Here are some suggestions on maximizing what life has to offer you.

Get organized and stay organized. Put closure to even the simplest of tasks before moving on. Discard junk mail right after you pull it from the mailbox, delete or file your emails right after opening them, and assign homes for things and escort them there when not in use. Don’t build a stockpile of simple tasks into an overwhelming burden or utter chaos. Or would that be clutter chaos?

Do not overschedule and overcommit. Instead, underpromise, yet overdeliver. Slow down! Don’t become the proverbial hamster on the exercise wheel, frantically trying to get somewhere, yet stuck in the same cage despite his frenetic pace. If you’re already there, then stop and step off the wheel. Take time to just be. Be a God-pleaser rather than a people-pleaser. Be character-based rather than performance-based. You can’t earn your way to heaven!

Simplify your life. Define what is important, establish clear goals, and then proceed toward them. Eliminate what competes for your time and distracts you from reaching your goals. And ask God’s opinion in the process.

Employing these strategies in your own life can prevent the friendly fire that keeps you from a more meaningful and enjoyable journey. When seasons change or the sun begins to set in your life, don’t get caught unprepared.

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