3 Reasons Why You MUST Have a Plan for Personal Growth–The Law of Intentionality


“I’ve concluded that while nobody plans to mess up their life, the problem is that few of us plan not to. That is, we don’t put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure a happy ending.”                                                                              –Andy Stanley

Do you have a plan for your Personal Growth?

I do NOW, but if you would have asked me that question 13 years ago, I would have looked at you condescendingly, slightly annoyed. A plan for personal growth? Why? I’m doing just fine! In fact, by virtually all standards, I’m doing great!

In 2004, my wife and I started a church in a mid-sized town in the Pacific Northwest that grew from 17 to over 1300 adults in 3 years. People were being helped, lives were being changed, and the excitement was intoxicating! Everything we did seemed to thrive. I felt like I was on top of the world! I felt unstoppable.

But, despite elaborate plans for the growth of the church, I didn’t have a plan for my own PERSONAL growth…and, consequently, as the responsibilities increased and the pressure climbed, my personal life cracked. All that I had worked so hard for came crumbling down. The church had grown, and my influence had grown…but I had not grown! It had all outgrown me!

It has been said that “Charisma will get you in the door, but Character will keep you in the room.” In the flurry of planning, preaching, vision-casting & team-building, I had marginalized the cultivation of my heart…my character…and it cost me my place in the room. In 2007, I resigned my position as founder and lead pastor of this exploding church and began a dark and desperate journey to save my marriage and my family…and to rebuild my life.

Sadly, similar versions of this story are quite common…BUT THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE.

In this article, I want to answer one question that applies to EVERY area of our lives: spiritual, marriage, family, parenting, relationships, business, financial, health…all of it! 

Why is Personal Growth IMPERATIVE to your ongoing success?

There are 3 Critical Reasons…

Reason #1: You don’t get what you WANT, you get what you ARE!

Envision a bucket and a coffee cup.

The bucket is filled with sand, representing what you want and who you want to be in the future—filled with your hopes & dreams, goals, ideas & plans.

The coffee cup represents who you are right now…your current self and current capacity.

The bucket of sand is then poured into the coffee cup, filling it immediately, with the vast majority spilling over, out and around the cup…uncontained

The point is simple. So often we have “bucket-sized dreams” but only “coffee-cup capacity.” Who we are now can neither obtain or contain our dreams. Even in the unlikely chance that we did get what we wanted (as I did for a very short time) we couldn’t hold onto it. It would be lost or wasted.


Your current capacity is your lid, limiting your ability for more, because you don’t get what you WANT, you get what you ARE. 

Reason #2: If you want to BE, DO or HAVE more, you must BECOME more!

Now, if you are currently a “coffee cup” with “bucket-sized” dreams (and there is no shame in that!), something’s got to change. You’ve got to increase your capacity! You’ve got to make room for increase in your life.

Where in your life do you want to be, do or have “more”? In your personal or social life? With your spouse or kids? Your finances? Your career? Your influence and impact? Then you’ve got to grow!

In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy relates a comical story of the 40-page journal entry he crafted as a single man, describing in detail every aspect of his “Ideal Woman.” That’s 4-0 pages!! He then analyzed that list, and quickly deduced that the wrong question to ask himself was “What do I need to DO to get a woman like this?” The right question was “What kind of a man would a woman like this be looking for? Who do I need to BECOME to attract a woman of this substance?” He then promptly sat down and filled another forty pages, describing all the qualities, attitudes and characteristics that HE would need to develop in himself…and then went to work! (By the way, he met and married his “Ideal Woman!”)

Personal growth guru, Jim Rohn, put it this way: “Success is not something you pursue. Success is something you attract by the person you become. If you want to have more, you have to become more.” Becoming always precedes being, doing or having.

Reason #3: What GOT you HERE won’t GET you THERE.

When my three children were younger, I was a really good dad! Holding them, reading to them, playing with them, teaching them to ride a bike. But the teen years were brutal! I have since realized that I tried to use the same parenting techniques that had worked successfully with my “littles”…with my teen-agers! It was a disaster! I look back now, as my kids are quickly moving into their 20’s, and realize that as a parent of teens I had relied upon my past success. And it derailed me. The same mistake applied to my experience as a pastor.

Management expert, Peter Drucker observed, “The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s success. No one has ever made a significant impact after they won the Nobel Prize.”

People will often say “I have 15 years of experience.” But reality is that they have 1 year of experience…repeated 14 times. We get to a level of competence (where we are comfortable!) and then we STOP GROWING…and inevitably begin drifting backwards…soon to be out of a job (or out of a marriage!). Former Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner, summed it up this way: “The only job security we have is our individual commitment to personal development.”

Enter: The Law of Intentionality, which states: “Growth doesn’t just happen. To reach your potential you must be highly intentional.” In other words, your personal growth must be “planned, deliberate, purposeful, and by design.”

In November 2015, I woke up to the fact that things couldn’t continue as they were. My wife and I were in a perpetual “crazy cycle”, hanging on by a thread. We both wanted a healthy marriage, but were barely surviving. Something HAD to change. I realized it was ME that had to change! Surprise, surprise! So I launched in like a man on fire…Intensely Intentional! It was tedious. There were steps forward and steps back. It took a lot of work, the help of a coach, loads of prayer and God’s supernatural strength…but, little by little, things began to turn around. Little by little, I began to change. Just today I asked my wife: “If you were to rank our marriage on a scale of 1-10, where would you rank it?” She answered: “I’d give it an 8.” I was shocked…and humbled. We’ve come so far…and the work continues. 

So I ask you: Do you have a deliberate, purposeful and designed PLAN for your PERSONAL growth? If so, I applaud you. If not, Why Not? I hope you’ll at least ponder on it, because as James Allen, in his classic book, As a Man Thinketh, observed: “People are anxious to improve their CIRCUMSTANCES but are unwilling to improve THEMSELVES; they, therefore, REMAIN BOUND.” 

“They remain bound.” Those are haunting words. Why do they remain bound? Why do so many fail to have truly happy endings to their lives? Why do so many settle for surviving when they could thrive? I’ll answer these questions in the next 4 articles, a series entitled: “8 Toxic Beliefs that Prevent You From Winning as a Husband & Father.”

Tying it all Together

In order for our lives to expand, we have to make room for increase. We must have an intentional plan for our personal growth. If we don’t, we will find ourselves grasping at things but not achieving them, and longing for our circumstances to improve, but seeing very little progress. It is imperative, therefore, that we improve ourselves if we want more out of life. The good news: this is absolutely possible!

How are you intentionally improving yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I would love to learn from you!s

Are you struggling at home?

I would love to talk with you about building a Strong Family!

Is parenting harder than you ever thought it would be? Have you and your wife drifted apart and lost that “spark” that you once had? Are you battling with toddlers or teen-agers that are about to push you over the edge? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed when you think about going home after work? If any of these describe you, I would love to spend an hour with you going through my FREE Home Leadership Audit. You will leave this call more focused and inspired…with practical action steps to see immediate improvement with your wife and kids! I can’t wait to talk with you!

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