What Your Limits and Circus Elephants Have in Common


Where you have been, what you have done, and where you are now matters far less than where you are headed.

When I was a kid, one of my coaches told me a story about circus elephants. When these elephants are still little and weak, they are chained to iron stakes in the ground, which prevent them from breaking fee and running away. This allows the circus trainers to keep them close, work with them, and prepare them for their routines.

What’s strange is that even after the little elephants grow into huge, powerful animals capable of lifting a ton or more with their trunks, they remain restricted by those same miniature stakes in the ground. Even when they are more than strong enough to yank the stake out of the ground and roam free, they don’t do it. They don’t even try. They remain limited by the old boundaries.

Sometimes we demonstrate this type of helplessness as well. We focus on that little stake (or mistake) from our past and forget that, with God’s help, we have the power to release whatever has been holding us back.

Even though we are free to choose what we think about, we often tell ourselves destructive things that limit – at least temporarily – the big things God wants to do through us. Pay attention to almost any conversation for about ten minutes and you will hear toxic self-talk, whining, commiserating, blaming, condemning, and justifying. You will hear people passionately arguing in favor of their most cherished limitations. Some insist that they are not being negative but realistic, giving an honest description of their lives The rationalizations may be convincing, and most have become socially acceptable stables of speech, but when people violate Philippians 4:8, consequences always follow.

Where you have been, what you have done, and where you are now matters far less than where you are headed. If you persist in identifying with current or prior performance by constantly thinking and talking about it, then where you have been, where you are, and where you are going will be one in the same.


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