When I was in high school, I got my driver’s license. Perhaps you did too. And when I got my license, there was one thing I heard again and again. Every time I’d get ready to leave the house, my mom would shout: “Call me when you get there,” which is the last thing any 16-year-old wants to hear from a parent.
“Call me when you get there,” she’d say as I was heading out.
“Call me when you get there,” she’d repeat as the door closed behind me.
“Call me when you get there.”
I’d get so mad whenever she said it. But no matter how much I protested, she didn’t stop. It was like a playlist on repeat.
So one evening, as I was walking towards the door, those familiar words followed after me. And I erupted.
I turned around and said, “Mom, you have GOT to stop saying that. It’s driving me crazy.” And I’ll never forget how she responded. She looked at me, knowing I was so mad, and said, “Tyler, I’m sorry, but I’ll always be your momma.”
Her words were profound. “I’ll always be your momma…”
It was her way of saying, “Because of who I am, I can’t help but be concerned about you.”
“Because I’m your momma, I’m compelled to tell you to call.”
“Because I’m your momma, I think about you when you leave.”
“Because of who I am, I have these concerns.”
And this is how it works, isn’t it?
Because of who we are, there are things that concern us.
Because we’re recent graduates, or because we live on our own. Because we’re in between jobs, or because we just got promoted. Because the test is coming up. Because the rent is almost due. Because we’ve reached a certain age, a certain income, or a certain low point in life.
Because of who we are, there are things that concern us. And that’s not always a bad thing. Some concerns are good concerns. They motivate us to plan for the future, or to cut back on our spending, or to eat like we know we should.
But there are times when our concerns become our worries.
There are times when what concerns us comes to consume us. And when that happens, following Jesus tends to get placed on the back burner. Which is ironic because Jesus had a lot to say about worry.
In fact, one day Jesus told His followers: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
Imagine how audacious this must have sounded to Jesus’s original audience.
When Jesus spoke these words, food supplies were entirely dependent on how much it rained and whether or not a farmer could protect the crop from pests. A year of drought or a swarm of locusts could mean starvation. You couldn’t drive down the street to the grocery store. There was no safety net. If food ran out, it was over.
Nevertheless, Jesus instructed His disciples not to worry about what they were going to eat or about what they were going to drink or about what they were going to wear.
And here’s why:
Jesus mentions these specific necessities of life—food, water, and clothing—as a way of helping His followers understand that His solution for worry reaches all the way down to their most fundamental concerns. Jesus suggests that He knows a reason not to worry that will bring encouragement and comfort even when what’s most basic seems to be in jeopardy.
And then He makes His point.
“Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
“Consider the lilies of the field, how the grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?”
Are you following His logic?
Jesus says, do not worry about your life because your Father in heaven cares about you. You’re valuable to Him. If He makes sure the birds are fed and the fields look gorgeous, don’t you think He’ll watch out for you?
Jesus says you don’t need to worry because you’re valuable to God.
This is not to say that God doesn’t care about the Earth He made or the creatures in it. Nor is it to say that we, as responsible stewards of His creation, shouldn’t feel responsible and care for the natural world.
But, it is to say that when God made all that there is—the land and sea, the sky, the birds and fish and animals—He loved everything He formed. In fact, the Genesis account says He called every element of creation “good.” But then, He topped off all of creation with the stamp of His own image. God made humans and called them “very good,” marking us as special and treasured in His created order.
So there stands Jesus, looking at crowds of people just like us—people who are tempted to worry. And Jesus says: Don‘t fret. You’re valuable to your Heavenly Father.
Jesus insists that the key to leaving worry behind is trusting God’s concern for us.
But that isn’t always easy. In fact, most days it feels downright impossible. What makes it so tough?
I can think of three primary ways our trust for God can break down:
First, we can doubt His infinite love for us.
Second, we can doubt His infinite wisdom as it relates to our needs.
Third, we can doubt His ability to act on our behalf.
How does your trust in God get derailed?
Do you doubt God’s infinite love?
Do you believe He doesn’t love you? That maybe He loves all people in a general sense but not you specifically? And not you completely—especially after what you’ve done and where you’ve been. Do you think He loves you a little, or maybe even a lot, but not infinitely? Not enough for you to give Him your complete trust. Is that you? Do you doubt God’s infinite love?
OrDo you doubt God’s infinite wisdom?
Do you question whether He truly knows what’s best for you? Do you wonder if He really knows what you really need? Or do you feel like He knows what’s best for humans broadly, but not what’s best for you right this moment? Do you think He needs a little more input into how to respond best to your situation? Do you doubt God’s infinite wisdom?
Or Do you doubt God’s ability to act?
Do you question His power? Do you feel like He would be doing more to change your circumstances if He could? Do you feel like His hands are tied behind His back? Do you doubt God’s ability to act?
These are three primary ways our trust for God can break down.
How does your trust in God get derailed?
It’s worth knowing the answer to that question. Because knowing precisely how our trust tends to erode can help us focus our trust-building efforts.
If you’re tired of worry ruling your life, and if you’ve realized where your trust in God frequently fails, here’s one final suggestion:
Spend the next week reading and rereadingMatthew 6:25-34. Reflect on Jesus’ words.
Jesus says: You’re valuable to God, and God notices what you need.
He says: The God who created and sustains the world thinks you’re the best thing on the planet, and He’s got your best interests in mind.
Remind yourself of this truth again and again and again. And as it sinks in, see if it doesn’t loosen worry’s grip. In the end, it can’t be denied: Because of who we are, there are things that concern us. And those concerns can come to consume us.
But because of who God is—because He’s our loving Heavenly Father—there are things that concern Him.
Our flourishing, our growth, our wholeness, and our relationship with Him number chief among them. So let Him focus His energy on you and your future while you focus your energy and your attention on Him and His care.
Even though we’ve grown accustomed to emailing, while calendaring, while texting, while sipping coffee—we haven’t actually become multitaskers. We’ve become switchtaskers. We’ve gotten better at squandering our energy, attention, and focus by switching between unrelated activities with increasing speed.
The science is simple. Trying to do two cognitive things at the same time is impossible. The mind just doesn’t work that way.
The impossibility of multitasking is why productivity at some offices has decreased, even as hours have increased. It’s why today’s students perform more poorly on memory-based exams. It’s why car insurance rates have increased. Because individuals who think they’re great at so-called “multitasking” keep getting into accidents.
Did you know the National Transportation Safety Board reports that texting while driving results in impairment equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit? Our brains simply can’t handle all the disconnected information speeding toward us at once.
Multitasking while driving has very real consequences.
Cell phone use at the wheel causes 1.6 million crashes each year, and leads to nearly 330,000 injuries. One out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
Now, I imagine I’m not the first person to tell you that texting and driving puts you at risk. Our culture has woken up to that reality.
You know the dangers of distracted driving. But what about the dangers of distracted living?
What does distracted living—living with too many priorities, obligations, and inputs—do to your relationships, your happiness, and your spiritual growth?
I’m convinced that distracted living is the greatest threat to robust faith.
“Why?” you ask. Let me explain it to you this way:
I haven’t met too many folks who say, “I’m not interested in faith. I’m not interested in Jesus. I’m not interested in what’s true, beautiful, and worthwhile.”
But I have met many who are too distracted to search out real answers to their sincere questions. I’ve met many who don’t have time or attention to give to what matters most. I’ve met many who never make space to pause and think and listen to God.
And, admittedly, I’m one of them. I often find myself short on focus, unable to concentrate in times of prayer or reflection.
Multitasking our way through life is having a severe impact on our spiritual well-being.
It’s costing us dearly.
In Luke 12:35, Jesus says:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”
Jesus says, Stay vigilant. Stay alert. Stay sharp.
Now, Jesus knew what we know: Being attentive is hard work. It doesn’t come naturally.
That’s why Jesus compares attentiveness to staying up late. Because staying up late—when you’re a grown-up—takes work.
I don’t know about you, but I used to be able to stay up until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Every morning. No problem. But that was back in college. I can’t do it anymore. Sure, maybe a special occasion will cause me to extend my normal business hours. But burning the midnight oil is no longer my standard operating procedure. It takes effort to stay up.
And Jesus used that human reality to illustrate a deeper, spiritual truth. He told his disciples what we already know: Attention takes effort.It took effort in the first century, and it takes effort today.
In our smartphone age, where the entire internet can fit in the palms of our hands, focus feels impossible. In our world of never-ceasing media, where we can walk into a restaurant and find TVs covering every wall, distractions abound. In the era of Netflix, where one show plays right after another, entertainment lures us away from deep, meaningful engagement.
Being attentive takes effort.
It’s hard work.
And Jesus knew this. So He instructed His disciples to stay alert.
But He didn’t stop there. He also offered them motivation for the difficult work of attentiveness.
He continued teaching, saying, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!”
Jesus makes an astonishing claim. He insists something truly remarkable awaits those who put in the effort to be attentive.
Allow me to explain.
In the first-century world, hierarchy meant everything. Masters were masters. And servants were servants. Any kind of inversion of roles, or subversion of the social status quo, would have been perceived as absolutely jaw-dropping. It would’ve turned heads.
And Jesus says, those servants who wait attentively for their master will experience something special. They’ll be able to say they were there when the absolutely unexpected occurred. They’ll tell their grandkids: “We were there when the Master served the servants.”
Because their attention is focused in the right direction, Jesus insists, they’ll get a front row seat to the surprise of the century. They’ll be ready and waiting when the Master decides to spice things up a bit and extend totally unexpected love upon His workers.
Do you see now why I believe that distracted living is the greatest threat to robust faith? Do you see now why I think that we all need to reconsider those habits and responsibilities and devices that so easily distract us?
It’s because our distraction causes us to miss the Master.
Our distraction keeps us from appreciating or recognizing the ways in which God is trying to get our attention, surprising us and delighting us with acts of care, and kindness and love.
Our divided focus shifts the direction of our attention—and it causes us to engage so many things and tasks, that we often miss what’s most important. We look right past God’s extravagant acts of love and care for us while we are multitasking our way through life.
We miss the person whom God has placed into our day to encourage us, or the idea that God has placed in our head to inspire us, or the small prompting God has placed on our heart to do something for another person that will bless them and bless us.
We miss all those things and more because we’re so distracted.
Distracted living, like distracted driving, is incredibly dangerous.
So, it’s time we take practical steps away from our switchtasking lives and instead focus our attention on the One who wants to surprise us in the most unexpected ways.
“It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have. The alphabet is fine. But it’s what we do with it that matters most—making words like ‘friend’ and ‘love.’ That’s what really matters.”
– Fred Rogers
It’s been said that “Good friends are hard to find,” but I think it’s truer to confess that “Good friendships are hard to build.”
They take time and work and diligence. They require patience and forgiveness. There are no shortcuts. They often grow in fits and starts. And though many are interested in experiencing the outcome of that kind of labor, few are interested in the effort.
In other words, many people want a friend. Few want to be a friend.
And that’s resulted in an epidemic of loneliness and dissatisfaction. The children’s poet Shel Silverstein speaks about the way we tend to approach friendships. He writes:
“I’ve discovered a way to stay friends forever There’s really nothing to it. I simply tell you what to do And you do it.”
Shel’s right. Too many of us unknowingly embrace a selfish posture towards friendship. His playful poem captures what I’ll call the “my friends exist for me” approach to friendship. Perhaps you’ve seen it before. It rears its ugly head when folks find themselves believing:
My friends exist so that I have something to do on a Friday night.
My friends exist so that I can try new restaurants and see new movies with someone.
My friends exist so that I won’t feel lonely.
My friends exist for me.
This posture towards friendship is highly misguided. It’s plain bad advice. If you desire deeper, more substantive relationships, here are four habits, advocated by the author of Proverbs, that can help you build better friendships. Friendships that aren’t all about you. Friendships that bring life and yield joy. Friendships that will last.
If you want to build friendships that will last, first, you must cultivate self-awareness.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”
What’s going on deep inside us is difficult to analyze or to understand precisely. But those who desire to be good friends take the time to explore their own hearts. They assess their motives and desires, and honestly evaluate what makes them tick. They name old wounds and identify the effects of those wounds. They own up to the good, the bad, and the ugly that shapes their decision-making.
They cultivate self-awareness. And self-awareness is critical to building friendships that can last.
Someone who is self-aware is able to recognize when they’re being unreasonable, when they’re being demanding, and when they’re reacting to a current circumstance out of an old wound. And isn’t that what you want in a friendship?
Those who are self-aware have taken the time to look into their own hearts so that they can respond to and care well for those whom they call “friend.”
Self-awareness can grow in many contexts. Counseling is a helpful tool. So is journaling. Research shows that writing down things we are thankful for and identifying things that frustrate us can help us gain insight into the nooks and crannies of our hearts.
So how do you build friendships that last? First, you cultivate self-awareness.
But becoming a better friend isn’t just about improving the ways we understand ourselves. It’s also about adjusting the postures we adopt when relating to others.
If you want to build friendships that last, you must also commit to radical candor.
What’s radical candor?
Kim Scott, a remarkable business leader in the tech industry, who’s led online sales at AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick and Operations at Google, writes, “Radical candor is the ability to challenge directly and show you care personally at the same time.” It’s the commitment to take a risk and speak the truth to a person who matters to you.
Scott’s definition of radical candor reminds me of Proverbs 27:6, which says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
They also remind me of Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Even though it can be remarkably difficult to tell the truth to those we love, it’s what a good friend does. It’s how we build friendships that last.
Radical candor matters for two reasons:
It’s how we care for our friends.
And it’s how trust grows in our friendships.
A friend says what needs to be said, even if it hurts for a little while, because they desire to keep their friends from greater heartache or harm.
And a friend speaks honestly, risking hurt or misunderstanding, so that their friendships might have opportunities to deepen and grow. Indeed, speaking with radical candor is one of the main ways trust grows between friends. It’s like Oscar Wilde said, “A good friend will always stab you in the front.”
Do you give your closest relationships a chance to grow through your commitment to courageous honesty? Are you committed to radical candor?
For healthy relationships to grow, honest, direct speech is necessary. But so is grace.
If you want to build friendships that last, you must make forgiveness a habit.
Proverbs 17:9 instructs, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”
Whoever covers an offense—which is a Hebrew way of saying whoevercommits to forgiveness—seeks love. But those who repeat the matter—those who ruminate on it, bringing it up again and again—cause separation between friends.
It’s been said the only things that are certain are death and taxes, but you can also count on this: Your friends will let you down.They will break your trust. They will hurt and offend you. It’s inevitable.
But the ability to forgive—the ability to cut some slack and offer understanding—that’s what allows friendship to grow over the long haul.
To be clear: I’m not suggesting that we let our friends run all over us or do whatever they please without consequence. Boundaries matter. And there are times that boundaries need to be established and firmly held.
But at the same time, if you want your relationships to flourish, you need to make forgiveness a habit. You must be quick to extend grace and give another chance to those who have offended you.
That’s just part of friendship.
And finally, if you want to build friendships that last, you need to embrace self-sacrifice.
Proverbs 17:17 declares, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
A true friend is one who commits to costly love, who is present in good times and bad times. A true friend doesn’t vanish when things get difficult, they dig in.
What’s funny is many recognize that friendship is valuable. But few seem willing to pay the high price that lasting friendship costs. It cannot be denied: Valuable things come at a high price. And lasting friendship is pricey. There are physical, emotional, financial, and time costs associated with building friendships that last.
But they’re worth it.
Because Fred Rogers is right.
Investing in things like friendship and love—that is what really matters.
Indeed, in a filmed interview, Rogers once remarked,
“The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”
That’s a gift we’re able to share in the context of friendship.
If you want to build those kind of friendships—friendships that bring joy, friendships that withstand hurts and deepen as years pass, friendships that last—you must cultivate self-awareness, commit to radical candor, make forgiveness a habit, and commit to self-sacrifice.
For centuries, the church has observed a season called Lent.
Lent is a period of reflection and imitation. It’s a season of spiritual preparation in which Jesus’ followers embrace intentional self-denial, just as Jesus embraced His cross.
This year, Christ Community is commemorating Lent in a variety of ways.
Our celebration of Lent began on Ash Wednesday, with services at both our Leawood and Brookside Campuses. And next Friday, March 29, we’re honored to be hosting The Gologotha Experience at our Brookside Campus.
We’ve also chosen to engage Lent through stunning visual art on display in our Four Chapter Gallery at the Downtown Campus. This March and April, Four Chapter Gallery is presenting Cross & Resurrection, a collection of artwork created by Christos Collective that focuses on Christ’s sacrifice for us.
As these pieces have hung in our space for the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by how many congregants have stopped at each piece, taking in their beauty and exploring what they communicate about Jesus’s death for the sin of the world.
But it’s not just our congregants who are finding themselves challenged and inspired by the work. I’ve likewise found myself particularly drawn to a pair of of paintings that hang behind our stage.
The first image in the pair presents the crowd’s derision of Christ as He made His way to Golgotha. Angry accusers hound Him, while others offer to speak on His behalf, leveraging His suffering for their own 15 minutes of fame. Some seem to ignore His suffering, focusing instead on lesser distractions, while others look on with mild pity. No one in the image seems to recognize the gravity of the work that is being accomplished in front of their eyes. They’re blind to the fact that they’re witnessing the Son of Man give His life to redeem the world He made.
The second image builds upon the message of the first. It depicts Christ resurrected. In this image, indifference towards Christ continues but takes a different form. The crowd remains distracted. Some are glued to their screens, while others continue to leverage Christ to build their own platforms. Those who derided Him at His death now deride one another. They’re caught in a cycle of scorn and condemnation. Yet again, those who have witnessed a remarkable miracle—Christ’s resurrection—seem oblivious to its implications.
Art is a visual language. And it speaks to the human soul in ways that words cannot.
This is what I love about art. This is why I’m so thankful that our church is committed to the arts.
Just as Lent invites us to embrace a particular, embodied spiritual discipline (i.e., fasting) so that we might learn more about what it means to follow Jesus in all of life, viewing art grants us the ability to slow down and engage the gospel story in an entirely unique way. Art speaks to us on a cognitive and emotional level. And it can cause us to understand our discipleship to Jesus more fully, when we take time to reflect on its message.
Seeing Jesus as He truly is is key for Christian discipleship. If we want to follow Jesus, we need a fully orbed portrait of who He was, and what He prioritized, and how we are to respond to Him.
While He walked among us, Jesus was perceived in many ways. The desperate saw Him as their only hope. The religious leaders saw Him as an intolerable threat. Peter saw Jesus as a political revolutionary—a militant leader, who would overthrow their oppressors and establish a Jewish kingdom. (This is why Peter wanted to sit at Jesus’ right hand, and why he drew his sword at Jesus’ arrest.)
Put more plainly: Peter thought Jesus would cross out the Roman Empire, not wind up on a Roman cross.
But Jesus’ death and resurrection changed all that. After Jesus rose and spent time with Peter, Peter saw more clearly what discipleship to Jesus required.
This Lenten season, we need our vision adjusted. We must see Jesus as the Son of Man sent to die. And the powerful collection of paintings in our Four Chapter Gallery helps us do just that.
If you haven’t seen this work yet, I invite you to join us at the Four Chapter Gallery for April’s First Friday. The Gallery will be open from 5:30-9:00pm on Friday, April 5. Come at any point during that period to engage this thoughtful collection. Allow the art to speak to you. And see if God might use these powerful images to give you greater insight into how you might follow Him in the various roles and responsibilities He’s prepared for you.
In college, you become an adult. At least, that’s what they tell you.
But sometimes, I wonder if that’s true. I know just last month, I had popcorn and carrot sticks for dinner.
Nevertheless, my undergraduate education is in the rear view mirror. And I managed to leave school with good friends, great memories, some savings, and a degree.
Not too bad, if you ask me.
In the next month, thousands of freshmen will begin their college careers at campuses across the country. And a good number of students from our church will head off to the places God has called them to learn and grow.
It’s an exciting time. But in the midst of the frantic activity that accompanies this period of incredible change, it can be easy to neglect long-term planning. Few people take intentional steps to cultivate their mental, emotional, and relational health while at college.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are four things first-year students can do in their first five days on campus to ensure that their time at school is healthy, balanced, and well spent.
1. ESTABLISH A RHYTHM
Habits are easy to form, harder to break, and impossible to avoid. Given time, everyone develops a rhythm. In your first five days at school, think carefully about your routine. How will you fill your day?
If your first few nights end on YouTube at 3am, chances are high that you’ll have a nocturnal semester. If you spend those early afternoons at the gym, your odds of uncovering that six pack by Spring Break will dramatically increase. If you go to church your first Sunday, you’ll keep going. If you don’t, you probably won’t start. Habits are like that. They develop quickly and sometimes unintentionally.
There are many ways to craft a routine. The worst way is without any thought.
Be deliberate about what you do during your early days on campus. Establish an enjoyable, sustainable, and healthy schedule. In November, you’ll be thankful you did.
2. TEXT NEW PEOPLE
It will be impossible to accurately describe the things you’ve done and the people you’ve met to your high school besties. So don’t. Stop texting them so often. Live where you are.
Too many first-year students avoid the healthy social awkwardness that accompanies new places and unfamiliar people by doubling down on their digital relationships with old friends. Don’t make that mistake. Old friends are good. But new friends are worth making. And your first five days at college present an unequaled opportunity for beginning new relationships. Everyone’s looking for friends. New bonds are easily formed.
This incredible social openness only lasts a little while. Don’t waste your time.
Join clubs and attend events. Get new numbers. Make plans. Do fun and fascinating things on your new campus with new people. Then, you’ll have good stories to share when you see your old friends at home during Thanksgiving Break.
Dorm life and international flights have a lot in common. Both involve sharing a small space for a long time with a relative stranger. Though polite conversation can make the first hours pass pleasantly, the moment comes when you realize you’re stuck with the person next to you until the trip is over.
You’ll be living with your college roommate for the next eight months. The honeymoon will end. Friction is coming. Start preparing now.
Many take time to get to know their college roommate in their first few days on campus. But few establish healthy lines of communication that will facilitate successful coexistence over the long run.
Though it’s exciting to explore a roommate’s past loves, favorite movies and biggest regrets, the discussion must progress. It’s important to determine how you will approach each other with frustrations, to set expectations for borrowing items and inviting guests into your space, and to schedule regular times to address simmering conflicts or to clean common areas.
These discussions aren’t always fun. But they’re the kinds of conversations that make long-term relationships work.
Healthy communication with your roommate will go a long way in guaranteeing that your first year on campus is absent from unnecessary conflict and stress.
4. REFLECT THOUGHTFULLY
College will change you. Expect it. Exposure to new ideas and people brings transformation.
But not all change is good change.
Before the semester has time and space to shape you, sit down with a pen and paper. Give yourself 10 minutes. Write down who you want to be, what you’d like to do, and how you want to interact with others. And be honest. This exercise is worthless if you aren’t.
This written record of your aspirations and values won’t be useful for a few months, so store it someplace safe. But after some time has passed, pull it out and read it. See if you’re still on track to be the person you wanted to be.
Maybe your goals have changed. If they have, ask why. Use this document to assess if your new perspectives and ambitions are for better or for worse.
A college student who reflects on who they are and how they are changing is a rare thing. Making this small effort during your first five days on campus could pay huge dividends, allowing you to use your four years on campus to bring about the type of maturity and growth you’ve wanted when you began.
College life flies by fast. Your first five days will be over before you know it.
Enjoy them. Fill them. And use them wisely. Take time to do what’s meaningful and healthy. A little bit of thinking and effort at the beginning can save you from a whole lot of problem solving at the end.