At work, I’m having to create an Individual Development Plan, writing goals to help make me better at my job, advance my career, save the world, all that. I’m really not that excited about it even though I generally enjoy some good planning.

My main dissatisfaction with this particular “tool” is that it is all work-related, and generically so. Within the army, chaplains are square pegs in round holes. We are special staff, in every meaning of the word. We don’t command anything. We remain staff officers our entire careers. Therefore, the generic templates and ideas don’t fit.

There are some courses I can take, and probably will, mostly because that is how the game is played. The army doesn’t promote people, it promotes paper, and the more stuff you have on your paper the better. But, what I would really like to have for my individual development plan is one sentence.

“Apply what I know.”

That’s it. If I could do that, I would be much better than I typically am, mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, emotionally, relationally, and intellectually. There isn’t much I need to learn. No, I’m not claiming I know it all, but if I could just apply everything I already know, it would be a big improvement.

Why don’t I? There’s the hard question. Since it isn’t a lack of knowledge on my part, it must be a lack of desire. Since my “how to” is fine, my “want to” must not be performing as well is it ought. I don’t remember where I heard it, but it is true that “we are all educated far beyond our level of obedience.” All we need to learn is the Golden Rule and that becomes true for us. No one I know applies that perfectly. And the list goes on and on. It’s kind of depressing when I think about it, yet think about it I should.

“We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.”

It’s part of the general confession in the daily office. Twice every day I recite that and I need to remember that it’s not a get out of jail free card. It is a confession, and an admission that by not doing those things, I have failed the creator of heaven and earth.

I know, it sounds a bit likes “works righteousness” and surely Paul would never go for such a thing. Then again…

Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Philippians 3:16 (ESV)

It has nothing to do with earning; it has everything to do with effort. Putting effort behind and in our faith. Faith to believe what I believe enough to act on it consistently. How do I work toward that? Probably not through some Individual Development Plan that the army undoubtedly copied from some business model. It may involve some planning, but planning is easy. Execution is the hard part.

Lord, in your mercy, may I apply what I know. Amen.


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