Are You Really a Work in Progress?

coffee_cup.jpgA lot of us say we are.  We say, "I am a work in progress." 


Sometimes I will post something on this blog that has a beginning, a middle, and an ending.  At times, what I write has some resolution.  It ends with a period.  It’s over.  Nothing else said.  That is the end of the post.


My life is not like that.  I was thinking a moment ago about this week.  Some days, I feel like I am making great progress in my life as a man, husband, and father.  Some days I feel like I am at a stand-still.  Some days I feel really good about my work.  On other days I think, "What am I doing?"  On some days I find myself encouraged by people.  On other days I feel discouraged.   


My life often tends to be a bit ragged:


  • I say what is right.
  • I do what is right.
  • I say what is wrong.
  • I do what is wrong.
  • I’ve learned this time.
  • "Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace."
  • Now I’ll go on with life.
  • "Lord, I’ve said it again.  I failed again."
  • Good grief!  How frustrating!
  • Will I ever learn?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • "Thank you Lord for giving me another chance at life."

Yes, I am a work in progress.  Do you relate to this?



Do you know what a work in progress needs from other people?  Lots of mercy.  Friendship.  A love that does not constantly critique and evaluate.  Years ago, a woman called me and asked to talk with me in my office.  A few days later, the conversation began with her saying something like this, 


I am not sure what to do.  I’ve talked to Dr. (name of past psychologist) and Dr. (name of present psychologist).  I have also talked with several area ministers ….


As she talked, I realized that she would talk with these people and then cut them off once they said what she did not want to hear.  I asked her, "What would you like for me to say that you did not hear from all of these people?"  I asked that because in talking to her, I began to feel the urge to measure every word because she was not listening but evaluating.


Being constantly evaluated and critiqued is not covenant love.  It’s not friendship.  It’s not meaningful relationship.  Why?  Well once you realize what is going on, you can be sure this relationship is temporary.  As soon as you say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, there will usually be a cutoff.  Maybe you’ve seen this.  A friend attempts to help another friend.  That friend, however, wants to keep his friend at arms length.  Finally, the relationship is over due to a cutoff.


If you are a work in progress (and I really think Christians should be just that), then your life is not tidy and your progress is probably not consistently good.  You have good days and not so good days.  Maybe you don’t come to the end of the day with a resolution for everything that happened that day.  I’m just telling you the way my life is.  I come to the end of a day often just thanking God for getting me through it.


If you really are a work in progress, thank God for those friends who love you no matter what.  Thank God for friends who tell you what you want to hear — and who care enough to tell you what you don’t want to hear.


If you really are a work in progress, be a friend to someone who doesn’t seem to have it all figured out.  See yourself as an equal, not as the one who has life all worked out.  Don’t try to fix people.  Just be a friend.  God has a way of using authentic relationships in ways that go beyond our "fix."


What about you?  Do you really see yourself as a work in progress?  Have you felt the temptation to act as if you were much more together than you really are?  Why is that?



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4 thoughts on “Are You Really a Work in Progress?

  1. This is the second post of its kind I’ve read today. Over at there’s a great post called “Broken Things” and she raises this same issue quite beautifully.

    So, now I’m going to be wondering all day… am I being too much of a fixer in relationship?

  2. L.L.I will be sure to read this post.  Thanks for providing the address. Two posts like this in one day is a lot!  🙂     

  3. Jim,
    This was very encouraging to me and exactly what I needed to read today.  I feel like I make two steps forward, one step back a lot, and I can be too hard on myself, I think, for not just continually going forward.  Thank you for taking the time to write these posts!

  4. Lauren,I’m so glad you left this comment.  There are times when I feel similar to what you described.  There are times when I also feel like I am taking two forward and one backward.Sometimes that can be used to discourage us even more.I am thankful for God’s grace which reminds me every day that my performance will always be lacking.  Yet, he chooses to lavish his love on us in spite of our stumbling lives.I appreciate you and have such respect for you.