Why I’m Really Okay with Not Reaching my Goals

Not Reaching my goals

I met a retired NFL player a few weeks ago.  He owned a hot chicken restaurant just outside of Nashville, and we struck up a conversation because he once played for my favorite football team (Go Colts!).  He talked to me about his lineman days and how he was investing his money now that he was retired.  When I got home I googled him—he’s only three years older than I am.

I won’t be close to retiring in 30 years, let alone three.  It feels weird when most NFL players are younger than me.

They’ve made more money in their lives already than I will ever make in mine.  As someone hardwired to provide for my wife and kids, that melts my bones.

Here’s some transparency:  I get anxiety when I want more, want to be more, want to have done more. Comparing myself to historic greats feels like nailing my foot to the floor.  I have yet to publish a book but F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby before he was 30.  The Outsiders, one of the greatest selling young adult fiction books of all-time, was written by a 16 year old. 

Oh, and Michael Phelps won 22 Olympic medals before his 30th birthday.

Let’s not talk about that, though.

There comes a point when we must accept we won’t do a lot of things.  We will, however, do some things.  Me?  I’m a husband.  I’m a father.  I’m a pastor.  I can do all of those things with excellence and make an impact in the world.  That’s the season I’m in.  When I compare myself to different people, to whom God has given different gifts, it’s easy to think I’m a zero. 

Jeanne Mayo once said, “Compete and compare, and you’ll live in despair.”

So what if the another church has a pastor more talented than me?  That doesn’t change how I should care for those with whom God has entrusted me.

So what if I can’t afford to take my wife Aruba, Jamaica, or any other Beach Boys destination (other than Kokomo)? That doesn’t affect how I should be the best husband I can be. 

So what if my kids aren’t going to go to the nicest private school in my city, which costs a part time job per year for tuition?  That won’t make me less of a dad to them. 

The comparison game will only result in my sadness, my anxiety, and my doing less than what I should be doing. 

I could scour Facebook and Instagram and see people with more friends, more followers, more likes, more comments, bigger homes, whiter teeth, nicer clothes, more visible ab muscles, or more expensive cars (that probably don’t have Cheerios lurking in every crevice).  I could give up, tear my clothes, and scoop some more cookie dough ice cream—my sad-time food of choice.  Or I could not play that game and realize that I’ve got work to do that doesn’t involve my friends’ online highlight reels. Great for them! I’m happy for them.

They’re not my competition.

No one is my competition. 

Not even my former goals are my competition. 

I won’t retire in the next three years.  Unless they add Cookie Dough Consumption to the next games, I won’t be winning any Olympic golds soon.  No parades will march in my honor.  Instead, I’ll be the best husband, disciple, dad, and pastor I can be.

I don’t need to be more and do more because my identity isn’t tied into my achievements.  I am not my resumé. 

It’s good to set goals.  I have set goals as a writer, pastor, leader, father, and husband. 

When we choose not to hold on to a highlight reel of ourselves, we understand that we are mere mortals.  We don’t have to be all-stars.  We can be normal and still have significance.  I don’t need a Pulitzer or Nobel prize to be important.  I don’t even need a wikipedia page. 

I’m made in the image of God, that’s significant enough.


Grow in your relationship with God even if you’re not reaching all your goals.  Find out more here.

Dear High School Christian

Dear High School Christian

Dear High School Christian

I’m so proud of you. You lift your hands and sing loud on Sundays.  Your sweet study Bible is wrinkled and colorfully highlighted.  You have a genuine relationship with God so impactful that you walk into church and think, “I don’t know if anyone here loves God as much as I do.”

You feel like you’re invincible.  I remember feeling like that, too.

What you haven’t realized yet is that you are just as susceptible to falling as the next person.  Unfortunately, you’re no superman. Continue reading “Dear High School Christian”

When My 2-Year Old Saved Me from Distraction

How to be a better dad
I’m semi-addicted to my new phone game.  It’s like Risk combined with chess, mixing strategy with luck.   Rarely do I play phone games, I don’t get why those birds are so angry, but this one pulls me in daily. 
While I was sitting on my couch last week, absorbed in nail-biting strategic gameplay, my two year old, Alaina, ran up and gave my knees a hug.  I sneezed her, whispered, “I love you, kiddo,” then quickly stepped back into phone world.  She pulled my hand and said, “Come!” so I smiled, stood up, and let her lead me by my right hand.  My left hand was still strategizing.  
She pulled me to the kitchen, where she loves to dance while watching her reflection in the black oven door.  We wandered through the garage, her favorite room because it contains all kinds of adventure inducing relics she rarely sees inside.  Finally, after walking all over our little apartment, Allie lead me back to the living room couch where I immediately plopped down and won another game.  
My little girl then climbed into my lap, stared me in the face, and pushed my phone-wielding hand away.  

Continue reading “When My 2-Year Old Saved Me from Distraction”

How to Live Quietly in a Noisy World

How to Live Quietly in a Noisy World John Miller Johnthemiller.com

How to Live Quietly in a Noisy World by John Miller

How do you live quietly in a world full of noise?

The people I respect the most use social media the least.  Unless it’s a part of their job, my friends who making the largest impacts on the world around them, rarely tweet, insta, or update their status.  I, #tbh, can find myself clinging to social media like it’s my only time with other people.  Confession: At times my Chrome browser has seven tabs open and four of them are Facebook.  I get lost in the noise!  

Continue reading “How to Live Quietly in a Noisy World”

Idols of my Ego: Our fatal flaw is seeking status

Learn to Live Like Jesus

Idols of my Ego: Our fatal flaw is seeking status by John Miller

A college professor of mine once tweeted that the problem with university faculty was often professors thought so highly of themselves—their students should simply bask in their intelligence. Soak up their genius.  And pray they might grasp a morsel of their teacher’s knowledge. 

These men and women make “A”s near impossible marks in their course and may even take pride in their class difficulty or fail rate.  

Continue reading “Idols of my Ego: Our fatal flaw is seeking status”

I’ve only read 33% of my books and I don’t feel guilty

Every Christmas my family gets me Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books gift cards.  I find lists of book recommendations and “Best of” rankings and search them out.  I scour university websites for their course catalogs.  Oftentimes I can find the texts that students will be required to read for interesting courses and I’ll buy those books.
I’ve amassed quite a collection of literature, fiction and non.  
But upon recent count, I found out something strange:

 I’ve only read 1/3 of the books I own.

Continue reading “I’ve only read 33% of my books and I don’t feel guilty”

50 Bag Challenge: Living Simply in 2017

John Miller Live Simply 2017 50 Bag Challenge
50 Bag Challenge: Living Simply in 2017 by John Miller
Our things can become our kings.  They command our attention. 
My garage is full of weights, appliances, decorations, and knicks and knacks I forgot I purchased from years of garage sale-ing.  I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on items that have barely made it out of the box.  All they do now is take up space in my life and keep me from being able to park my car inside.  You may understand this frustration, too.
This clutter which lies waiting for me is an added stressor in my life.  

Continue reading “50 Bag Challenge: Living Simply in 2017”

Happy Birthday, Alaina! Reflections on 2 years of Fatherhood

Today marks my two year anniversary of being a Dad.  
A photo posted by johnthemiller (@johnthemiller) on


When Heather was pregnant with Allie, my head knew we were going to have a baby.  But like many monumental events, that fact didn’t compute.  Even as we drove to the hospital at 40 weeks and 3 days, “me = dad” still hadn’t landed. 
It first began to settle once we put baby Allie in her carseat and started driving home. 
We came to the hospital and there were two of us. 
Now we’re leaving and there are three of us.  There’s someone in the backseat.  

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Alaina! Reflections on 2 years of Fatherhood”

How to Be Blameless before God: 1 Thessalonians Bible Study (Chapter 3)

1 Thessalonians Bible Study Chapter 3
How to be Blameless before God: 1 Thessalonians Bible Study (Chapter 3) by John Miller
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13  (ESV)


“(12) …[M]ay the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, (13) so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.


One thing my high school friends hated about me my test-taking skills.  
I wasn’t smarter than my classmates, but I had a knack for exams.  I figured out what the test writer was looking for by their word choice and could estimate approximate answers that were usually correct. 

Continue reading “How to Be Blameless before God: 1 Thessalonians Bible Study (Chapter 3)”