Carpe Diem is a Latin expression which, when translated to English means: “Seize the day”. The first time I heard this phrase was from the classic movie: Dead Poet’s Society (1989) starring Robin Williams (I watched this at a latter time year 2000 something, so I’m not that old) :). I think that this movie popularized this statement for the people who know this statement today.
The expression “Seize the day” basically means to make the most out of every opportunity. It doesn’t imply that we should live today as if the future will not matter; NO! This is not the same with the popular phrase nowadays: “YOLO (you live only once)”. In the movie, Robin Williams encourages his students to make the most out of life because life is short.
What is Opportunity?
In line with that, I think that we as a people should learn to make the most out of every opportunity because that’s one way that we can maximize our God-given time here on earth. But before I begin to talk about how we can maximize every opportunity given us; I think it’s important that we have a clear picture of what “Opportunity” is because I believe that if we understand it better we’ll learn to not take it for granted. 🙂
The OPPORTUNITY STATUE
“In Ancient Greece, there were statues everywhere. At one point there were more statues than people at one point. There was one statue in particular and it was called “Opportunity”. It was a vivid illustration on how statues work in our lives. It had LONG FLOWING HAIR in FRONT of its FACE but was completely bald at the back.”
“Put it simply you could grab it when it was coming toward you, but you could never get hold of it once it had passed.”
That’s how opportunity works, you never get it back once it is gone and I hope that we will all maximize and grab every opportunity that comes our way. The apostle Paul encourages us to do the same in Ephesians 5:16 which says:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
How do we make the most out of every opportunity?
So how do we make the most out of every opportunity if we are called to do so? With our limited time here on earth, how do we spend the rest of our days so that we can “make the most out of every opportunity?”
I’ve been reading 1 Samuel 17 lately and this story talks about a very known battle even for non-Christians. It’s the battle between David and Goliath and although I won’t dwell much on the battle itself, as I’ve read it I learned how David was able to maximize the opportunity given him. I believe that there are valuable lessons and principles that we can see and learn from this story and apply in our lives today. So are you ready?! Read on so that you can make the most of every opportunity given to you. 🙂
1) Recognize problems and challenges as opportunities
1 Samuel 17:4, 11
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Our common response to problems and challenges are fear and often times dismay. This is normal! This is usually our first reaction when we face these things. Sometimes we don’t just encounter small problems/challenges but often times theses are the “Goliath” type of problems and challenges. “Goliath” has now been used as a metaphor of big, heavy or insurmountable problems that we have in life. Given all of these things however, we have a choice to just drown in our fears or actually do something about it! The starting point of making the most out of our life is to recognize problems and challenges as opportunities. If we do that then our response will change as well. If we let fear get the best of us, most likely we’ll do nothing and even run away from these opportunities. I hope that we would not be like the Israelites or Saul who did nothing because they we afraid.
What are the Goliaths that you are facing right now? How do you see or recognize them? Will you treat it as an opportunity to bring out the best in you?
2) Realize the importance of WAITING for the right opportunity.
1 Samuel 17:13-14
Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul,
David was the youngest in his family and naturally since he was the youngest he was seen as their baby boy who probably didn’t have as much strength/charisma compared to his older brothers. I bet that even his father Jesse didn’t see him as someone who had the potential to slay the giant Goliath. What’s important is to be patient and wait for your turn because we just need to wait for the opportunity sometimes. Sometimes we can do something about it and create opportunity ourselves but a lot of times we can’t YET. It’s really a case to case basis. The reason I’m saying this is sometimes if we try to force ourselves in creating our own opportunities it may create tension and conflict with some people especially those in authorities. Imagine if David forced himself against his brother and to Saul at that time, we would have had a different story and it may not have been the best time for him yet.
Opportunity will come, we just have to wait on it sometimes and be patient about it. Patience and right timing are two very helpful things in finding the right opportunity.
3) Little opportunities lead to bigger opportunities
1 Samuel 17:17-18, 20, 26
Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them.
Yes, David was the youngest in the family. That’s why he got assigned to bring loaves and cheese to them. It was a very small task of being assigned the responsibility to bring food for the soldiers and doesn’t seem like much. Have you been given “small responsibilities”? Was there ever a task that you didn’t like because your ego couldn’t handle it? We should change our mindset with regard to these things because there’s really no “small” tasks, no “small” responsibilities only “big” egos. As I read the story I realized how because David was faithful with the little things, this led to a door that eventually led to his opportunity to represent the Israelites against Goliath. Read the verses below to see what happened because David was faithful with the little things.
1 Samuel 17:20
Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.
“As Jesse had directed” he was faithful with his “small” task and obeyed his father’s command without complaint, arguing or grumbling. Because he was faithful, he was able to talk to his brothers, see Goliath taunt the Israelites again and again and again and saw the Israelites fleeing from the giant in fear.
1 Samuel 17:26
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Because David saw that no one was brave enough to fight the giant, now his opportunity has now come to represent the Israelites against Goliath.
Be faithful with the little things because it can actually lead to open doors that eventually leads to greater opportunities. Don’t think of “small” tasks or “small” responsibilities. Think of “small” opportunities that will eventually lead to “bigger” ones.
4) Don’t let discouragements stop you from seizing opportunities
1 Samuel 17:28, 29-31
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
In this life EXPECT a lot of discouragements to come. It’s a given but don’t let that stop you from seizing the opportunity. Wayne Gretzky said that we miss 100% of the shots that we don’t take. So what if we’re not the best fit for the job? So what if we’re not 100% ready yet for the opportunity? The truth is someone will always be better but not everyone will get the opportunity, only a few. We just have to make the most out of every opportunity and not let discouragements stop us. If we let those discouragements get to our head then it’ll reduce our overall effectiveness and we’ll not be able to give our 100% and maybe squander the opportunity given to us.
The great thing about David is he didn’t let the words of his older brother get to his head. He waited and looked for other ways to get that opportunity. His time has almost come to be given that opportunity as seen below.
1 Samuel 17:29-31
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
5) Display courage when seizing the opportunity
1 Samuel 17:32, 33
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
When the opportunity is given, you have to have courage to take it. When people ask you and give you the opportunity it’ll impresses the people who gives you the opportunity if they see the courage in you to face those challenges. David continually displayed that courage especially in front of the king who didn’t really think that David will be able to defeat Goliath. I think what really made Saul say yes to David (at least one factor) is the courage that he saw in this boy’s eyes.
Amidst all the discouragements David faced, he remained courageous until the end. I believe it’s because of his relationship with God that’s why he didn’t let the lies of his brother and Saul get to his head. Display courage when seizing the opportunity!
6) Prepare NOW so that you’d be ready when the opportunity comes
1 Samuel 17:34-36
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
Did you read the verse above? David has been preparing all his life in fighting lions and bears while he was protecting his father’s sheep. Preparation doesn’t happen when the opportunity comes. It happens way way before the challenge arises. You don’t prepare on the day of a boxing match. You prepare months before the fight! The only difference with opportunities and a boxing match is that in a boxing match we know when the fight/opportunity is going to happen. With opportunities only time will tell. It may even catch us by surprise. The question is will you be ready for the opportunity?
When should you prepare for any given opportunity? NOW. Maybe you should stop reading this blog already and stop preparing but before that (hehe), the last point below if the key to maximizing and making the most out of every opportunity.
7) Understand that God holds the keys to victory in every opportunity
1 Samuel 17:37
The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
In Proverbs 21:31 it says here:
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord
David knew his place, he knew that the reason he will be victorious is because of God. We may be given the opportunity, we may have seized it already and prepared very well on the day of battle but at the end of the day God will be the one to determine our success or failure. I remember moments wherein no matter how good the competition is, there are still big upsets especially in the field of sports. Just yesterday the number 1 player in the world: Rafael Nadal lost to Stanlisas Wawrinka in what many deemed as a big upset. In this life, yes we’ll be given a lot of opportunities but sometimes we may squander some of those opportunities given to us and can leave us feeling discouraged and down. The key really is to trust God that as we prepare with everything we got, and take on the opportunities with excellence, it’s still him who will dictate the outcome of the events that will happen. He’s still the one who’ll determine the outcome.
Prepare well, be faithful with the little things, face opportunities with courage and leave everything else to God’s might hand. Happy Monday to you! 🙂