MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
By Deion Sanders with Tejado W. Hanchell, Ph. D
August marks the unofficial end of summer. Many families are finishing up their vacations. Students of all ages are getting ready to go back to school and teachers are getting ready to teach. Even if you’re not in elementary, middle, high school or college, rest assured that we are ALL students of life, and school is back in session. This is a great time for us all to evaluate where we’ve been, look at where we are, and chart our course to where we hope to be. Life is one big classroom, and if we don’t learn the lessons of life, we’ll end up repeating the grade.
That’s why you see so many people stuck in the same place in life. Have you ever run into an old friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member you haven’t seen in a few years, and their lives seem EXACTLY the way it was the last time you saw them? That usually means they failed to learn the lesson and had to repeat the grade. Even worse than SEEING the old friend, is BEING the old friend! Don’t get stuck where you are. Keep learning so you can keep growing. I truly believe there’s something wrong if you’re the smartest, richest, and oldest person you know. You have no room to grow. You need to go back to back to school!
As we prepare for “Back to School”, I believe that there are three levels of learning we need to focus on so that we don’t get stuck, fail the lesson and repeat the grade.
1. Learn from your past.
The largest data source you have at your disposal is your past. If someone were to write down everything in your past it would probably make up enough volumes to fill the Library of Congress! How many of you are glad, like me, that folks can’t just go down to the city library, check out a book and read EVERYTHING in your past?! Honesty, there are some things I’m hoping God will forget! Matter of fact, there are some things I’M trying to forget! *How could I have been so stupid and naïve?* If you feel that same way, I’ve got some good news for you. Even though you’re trying to forget, God has already forgotten. He says, “I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).
While God does not remember the sins of our past, and people can’t check out a book and read all about our past, there are some things that WE need to remember about our past so that we can learn from them. Mistakes are really just lessons, and as we learn from the lessons of our past we are prepared not to make the same mistakes. Study your past, and you can PASS your PAST. (Somebody say, “Amen” right there!) Because your past is not your past, if you can’t get past it! I’m gon say that again. YOUR PAST IS NOT YOUR PAST, IF YOU CAN’T GET PAST IT. I’m gon say that on more time, YOUR PAST IS NOT YOUR PAST, IF YOU CAN’T GET PAST IT!
One word of caution as you begin to study your past. Remember that the past is a great teacher and rapper. Your past will explain your pain and put lyrics and music to your pain. It will teach you about people, places and things. However, while your past is a great teacher; it is a terrible landlord. LEARN from your past, but don’t LIVE in it!
2. Learn in your present.
Not only should we learn FROM our past, but we should learn IN our present. Learning is a non-stop, lifelong process. Whenever we stop learning, we stop growing. When we stop growing, we stop moving, and when we stop moving, we become stuck. Life brings lessons to you every day. Pay attention. Take
the time to learn in your today because it will be an invaluable resource for your tomorrow. Remember that today’s present will be tomorrow past, and you should be excited about the present because it’s a tremendous gift that God gave you. Just as what you learned from yesterday will help you today, what you learn from today will help you tomorrow. *You should shout right now for expectation alone!*
Never stop learning. Look for fresh opportunities. Look for open doors. Travel to the other side of town. Go look at some new houses. Drive by the car lot. Test drive a new car. Go to a different restaurant that you’ve never visited before. Get some new friends of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Make yourself a local “bucket list”. Try something different. In fact, try to make a difference.
Part of learning in your present is recognizing things from your past. Because the past has a sneaky way of trying to creep into your present and spend the night, and it don’t look that good in the morning! The mistakes of yesterday will try to make it into your today to cause you to miss your tomorrow. But if you are paying attention and learning in your present, you can recognize those mistakes and make the necessary adjustment. In football, we called that an audible. Sometimes you’ve got to get up and change the play. It will work if you work it!
3. Learn about your future
The third level of learning has to do with your future. I can hear you saying now, “Prime, how am I supposed to learn about my future if I haven’t even been there yet?” Hold on playa, I got you! The reality is that the more you learn from your past and the more you learn in your present, you are in “Prime” position to learn about your future. Your future is largely determined by the decisions you make based upon what you learn from your past and in your present. In other words, you have the power to decide your future! I made a conscious decision as a kid that I would never drink or smoke because I felt that where I desired to go, it would handicap my process. I also stopped using profanity my sophomore year of college because even back then, I was thinking about my future.
No, I’m not saying that you can take the place of God, but what I am saying is that you can choose what things (or people) from your past that you will not allow to go with you into your future. You can’t take everybody everywhere. People were placed in your life for a reason, for a season, and some forever. It’s up to you to distinguish which category they belong in. You can decide what kind of future you want to have and begin charting your course to get there. (Write the vision.) For some of you, it may mean literally getting up off that couch, stop having a pity party, and going back to school. Get that degree. Open that business. Apply for that job or promotion. Start that ministry. Fulfill your dreams.
You can be whatever or whomever you choose to be. Take the remote that controls you out of other people’s hands. It’s time for your to change your own channels! Stop letting people push your buttons by turning you up, down, on or off. Life is a series of lessons, but you already have the answers to the test. The Teacher wants you to succeed. So get in The Book and “study to show yourself approved” (II Timothy 2:15). It’s time to go “Back to School”!