My Favorite Mistakes of 2008 – Part 3


continued from Part 2, which you can view here

4: Concerns about criticisms from the small-minded ensnared me.

That is, in 2008 I got caught up the times in worrying about what other people thought about me. It’s not that all who are potentially critical of me are necessarily small-minded. It just so happens that most of them are such! Is it so in your life as well?

There were times in this past year when I was caught up in the notion that a lot of people were thinking some pretty critical things about me. When you take risks when you’re out on the front lines doing things that are not commonly done by other people it is easy to begin to think that your target of other people’s criticisms. It is easy to think that other people are thinking thoughts of slander, thoughts of, “Man that guy is off the wall. What is he thinking? Why is he doing what he’s up to? Who does he think he is? Somebody ought to tell him the right way to go…” It’s easy a conger up in this inner conversation when you are convinced other people are focused upon you.

At an emotionally strategic time, a significant conversation with my grandmother came back to me. She told me, “If you only knew how little other people think about you-you would be liberated to take a lot more risks! If you only knew just how seldom other people think about you in general in life you would be so much more capable of taking risks. I would guess the risk-taker in you would be out there jumping on top of all sorts of new ideas all the time.”

Highly Unlikely

This lady, my grandma, went on to explain she was convinced that nearly NONE of us are on the minds of other people. We are VERY RARELY in the thoughts of others. We simply don’t rank that highly. Others don’t have the space to think about us because they are preoccupied with their preeminent thought – thinking continually about themselves every minute of the day. That it is highly unlikely we will ever become so famous that other people are openly critical of you. It is highly unlikely that you are ever to become so famous that other people actually spend a fraction of a second in a given day ever thinking about you and what is it you’re up to even if you are the head of something or other in life. There just isn’t the brain space for them to be caught up with you and your stuff. You just aren’t that important. Get over your preoccupation with yourself.

Then get on board the risk-taking part of life. Start living life the way life was designed to be lived. Let’s move on with it. Life was meant to be lived out loud – boldly, profoundly, sustainably, wonderfully – all the things that we are incapable of doing when we think other people are preoccupied with us. Guaranteed they are not. Life is a lot bigger than other people’s critical thoughts – how exciting is this!”

Final Thoughts

As we move into the coming year let’s remember the common thread of what we have learned from our favorite miscalculations for this past year.
I wish for you that this coming year- 2009 – be a year not free of mistakes but a year that is enthusiastic as you run not walk toward it.  Possessing more exciting things than this past one. Let’s break into this coming year with the greatest enthusiasm we’ve ever known.

How amazing it is that God allows us to get a brand new year to try out each time Jan. 1st rolls around. No matter how we handled the last one we still get a new one to try out. His mercies really are new every morning – and every year. He is just that kind of God. He is just that kind of Merciful One.

Let’s run not walk into this with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I am excited to share this with you. I do this with you because you are the people who have supported me through thick and thin these many years. I don’t think I could do this without you – nor would I want to or even imagine trying!

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.


  1. Hi Steve,
    This was very good for me to read. It was liberating wisdom that your grandma told you. Thank you again for all the good that flows out from you.

  2. Thanks for the article. I needed this to help stimulate me in Evangelism. Our church attendance is down need to find ways to bring it back to life. Our Pastor speaks the truth of Gods word but some of our people have been turned off. We started an intercessory prayer qroup which has helped asking God to lead our congregation. God blessed our school with 177 pupils this year. Things are looking up but we need to know it is in God’s time. There are things we can do. We need room in our school as we are using every bit of space our church has, classes in the church. We have a meeting March 15th to vote whether or not to build. We have a pledge drive for March 1st. Thanks for listening. Nancy

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