Posted in Personal Helps

5 Steps to Being a Doer (When You Can’t Find Your Keys)

Confession: I’m unbelievably forgetful. While I’m fixing dinner, I forget there’s still laundry in the dryer. My students know that if I don’t write assignments down, I won’t remember what I’ve instructed them to do (and they’re off the hook). I have driven straight past exits because I’m lost in thought or listening too intently to Nat King Cole (“so straighten up and fly right!”).

You know what else I’m bad at? While I take notes during sermons and personal devotions, while I am blessed with highly specific lessons from His Word almost daily, while I work to saturate myself with Scripture… once I get up to go about my day, before an hour has passed I can’t remember what that “highly specific lesson” even was. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1:23-24)

Have you been there? Some people are brilliant at recalling and applying truth, without any practical assistance… and some of us do well to remember our own phone numbers. If everyday distractions make you forget the truth the Holy Spirit has for you, be comforted – you are not failing to grow. Tomatoes grow like weeds, but they’re a trailing mess all over the ground unless they have a support structure to sustain their growth. What many of us need to thrive is a “tomato cage” – a plan of action that will cause us to grow up, not out.

Ask. The Holy Spirit’s whole purpose is to lead me into an increasing knowledge of God and His precepts. Ask Him both to reveal His truth to you, and to remind you of it. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:12-13a). There’s no point trying to bypass Him. If I want to grow in grace, I need to confess any sin that will plug my ears to His voice, and ask Him to open His Word to me.

Write it down. It might be fair to say that as a culture, first-century Christians were far more reliant on memory than anyone is today. Books were rare and illiteracy was common; they learned by hearing. But today we’re heavily dependent on written information, bombarded with textual content in everything from internet articles to restroom signs. How on earth can I expect my weak memory to compete with that? When He speaks to your heart, use a journal, index cards, Post-It notes, anything that forces you to put into words what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach you.

Immediately make application. I teach piano improvisation. If I simply assign an exciting chord substitution as homework, very rarely does the student ever successfully use it. But if we immediately apply the technique in a hymn, two things happen: (1) the student remembers the principle, and (2) the student is much more likely to apply it to things we never covered in lessons. This taught me that in my personal devotions, I need to take a moment to practice the real-life application of truth before I ever leave my time with God. Manna rotted after a day, and so does spiritual nourishment.

  • Instant action for things I can deal with immediately, such as forgiving a person.
  • Predetermined plans for recurring things, like getting into a habit of praise. Maybe you’ll add it to a prayer list, a reminder alarm, or even a note on the fridge.
  • Hypothetical scenarios for things I’ll need to act on later, such as dealing with anger. Remember when your mom made you practice how to behave in the grocery store before you ever got out of the car? She was setting up a hypothetical scenario. Envision the moment you’ll need to apply this truth, so when the moment comes, you are already “practiced up” for it.

Share. If you can add 20 political posts to social media in a week and the most you can say about heavenly things is “Good preaching tonight #PTL”, you have a problem. And we spend so much time talking about negative things and not breathing a word of Biblical solutions. At what point did Christians decide it was politically incorrect to talk to other Christians about spiritual things? What an amazing thing, that Almighty God cares enough to teach me anything from His Word – and instead we relegate it to a private thing so no one notices if we backslide. Talk about Him and what He’s doing in you. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Praise. Reading the Psalms can be a bit like whiplash. They’re full of raw emotion – guilt, fear, frustration, weakness, and more – and without warning, we’re swerving into a passage of praise. There’s a reason for that. As He teaches me and convicts me, I also need to recalibrate my perspective of the One Who is ultimately in control here. Take notes from the Psalms – praise Him for Who He is, for what He has done, for what He can do; for creation, salvation, hope; for the power He is capable of, no matter how He chooses to execute that power. “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart” – scattered, distracted, fragmented as it may be – “to fear thy name.” – Psalm 86:11

Ultimately, God blesses the one who continues in growth, even if you need to create a system to prevent you forgetting. “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25) Until the next post, let’s focus on letting His truth – not our short memories – be the determiner for how we live.



Hi, I'm Rachel - independent Baptist, PK, Commonwealth Baptist College graduate, insatiable coffee drinker, improv pianist, and bibliophile. Words I want to live by: "We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing, that He is preparing and fitting us for some extraordinary thing by and by, but as we go on in grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, in the present minute." - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

6 thoughts on “5 Steps to Being a Doer (When You Can’t Find Your Keys)

  1. This was such a blessing to me today! I am the ultimate scatterbrained blonde and my lack of retention has recently been frustrating me to the extreme. It was so encouraging to hear from someone who has similar troubles and read the practical solutions that we “know” but fail to actually do along with things I had not heard or thought of before.

    I’m going to print this post and put it in my devotions Bible. I think I will start praying Psalm 86:11 on a regular basis.

    Thank you, Rachel!


    1. Andrea, what a beautiful thing it is when the Holy Spirit sends just the right thing to encourage us – your comment did that for me! I have also prayed Psalm 86:11 daily. Don’t be discouraged; He gave you your personality, so just learn to roll with it and let it be an asset and not a hindrance to growing. 🙂


  2. God has been convicting me of not just having a set apart time with Him in the morning and then going about my day and not really giving Him time, but rather building my whole day around Him! Something I will have to work on a while lol That can be applied in a lot of ways. For one, not waiting until I go to bed at night to thank Him for the things He did for me throughout the day, but rather thanking Him when He does it! Also, going to Him when I start feeling weary or discouraged, not waiting for it to build up and build up. And as you said, talking to people about what God has spoken to you! I’m so thankful I have a friend who I will share what God has shown me from Scripture. There are a lot of other things that I could think about, but I will leave it at that for now since I don’t want to get totally off topic lol


    1. Hey, one perk of being scatterbrained is that nothing is off-topic, it’s just a continuation of thought. 🙂 I hope this was a help! Make your day an ongoing conversation with the Lord – and you can absolutely give yourself reminders until it’s habitual.

      Liked by 1 person

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