You have to be willing to put in the work

Illustration of a person working diligently at a desk, surrounded by books and a laptop

You must be willing to put in the work.

The other day, I engaged in a conversation with someone about their aspirations in business and life’s ultimate destination.

I inquired whether they had a defined purpose and vision for where they aimed to be, be it in the short term or even within the next 30 days.

They revealed a long-term ambition: to establish a business that they could eventually pass down to their children to manage.

That idea sounds appealing to me. So, I inquired about their readiness to take action to achieve it. Their response caught me off guard.

“Well, Dan, I’m not entirely certain how to make that a reality. If someone were to give me a million dollars, I could probably establish one. Alternatively, if they handed me a business to run, I’d have it.”

If you’re familiar with me, you know I’m not adept at concealing my emotions. Therefore, I’m confident they could discern the expression on my face. Before I could interject, they resumed speaking.

“Dan, you’re certainly fortunate that the Lord has bestowed upon you such abundance and a wonderful life! I wish something like that would just fall into my lap. Perhaps someone would hand me a business like yours to call my own or provide the funds to start one.”

My initial reaction was…

Yes, I acknowledge that I’m fortunate to be blessed in this way. And let me be clear: I attribute every aspect of my life to God—from my incredible wife Jenna and children to our home, business, clients, team, possessions, upbringing, community, and the enriching experiences I’ve had.

However, I’ve also put in immense effort to achieve the life I have. It hasn’t been handed to me on a silver platter.

After these thoughts crossed my mind, I couldn’t help but burst into laughter!

After a moment of reflection, I decided on how to reply. I recounted a tale to him. It was about a devout Christian journeying through the Arizona desert when he stumbled upon an astonishing garden. 
His initial reaction was one of bewilderment: why would such a beautiful garden exist during the desert?

His subsequent thought entertained the possibility that it might be a mirage! However, as he approached it, he realized its authenticity.

With curiosity piqued, he ventured through the gate, marveling at the garden’s splendor and the lush greenery surrounding him. Determined, he resolved to find the owner and convey that the garden’s existence was a testament to God’s blessings.

As he explored, he eventually encountered the owner and took the opportunity to express, “You realize this magnificent garden exists solely because of God’s grace!” After an extensive “lesson” that stretched into roughly 30 minutes (more akin to a lecture), the Christian concluded his discourse with the owner.

Throughout the entirety of the conversation, the owner remained patiently attentive. When the Christian had finished, he inquired about the owner’s thoughts.

The gardener replied, “You’re absolutely right; this garden is indeed a testament to God’s grace. However, you should have witnessed this place before my arrival—it was nothing but a barren desert!”

The essence of this story underscores that God presents us with opportunities daily. It’s up to us whether we seize these opportunities as our own tasks. And when we do, God desires our success. However, it’s crucial to recognize that we must make the conscious decision to put in the work. God won’t simply hand us a business or a completed project, as He understands that we won’t fully appreciate the outcome unless we’ve invested our effort and dedication into its creation.

Consider the process of raising children—it starts off with joy and excitement, but it’s followed by years of dedication and hard work, spanning over 18 years or more. Eventually, after investing countless hours and effort, we witness the results of our labor as our children grow and eventually become parents themselves.

The analogy here is clear: God equips us with the necessary resources for success, but it’s our responsibility to put in the effort.

Take a moment to reflect.

Today, I encourage you to pause and consider if you’ve ever admired someone else’s blessings. Did you do so with envy or longing? If so, take a closer look at the risks they took to achieve their success. Are you willing to take similar risks?

The next time you admire someone else’s creation, don’t just focus on the result. Instead, reflect on the labor that went into its creation—from the initial concept and design to the iterative process and the final polished product.

A Deeper Reflection

As I sit down to pen these words, I find myself revisiting the conversation I recently had. It still astonishes me that the person I spoke with perceived my journey as one of effortless inheritance.

The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve meticulously traced back the path that brought me to where I stand today. It’s a journey marked by pivotal decisions and relentless perseverance.

One such moment echoes from my high school days, when Jenna, my now-wife, contemplated parting ways. Refusing to accept defeat, I steadfastly declared my commitment to our relationship, determined to overcome the challenges we faced.

Another instance etched in my memory is the arduous journey of building our home. Rejected by over nine banks, we faced countless setbacks before finally securing a construction loan. Our breakthrough came when we encountered a compassionate soul within a local branch, willing to take a chance on us when others had turned us away.

These anecdotes serve as poignant reminders that success isn’t handed to us on a silver platter; it’s earned through resilience, determination, and unwavering belief in our dreams.

Becoming a CDL tester was no small feat. It took me over 1.5 years to navigate the intricate process and gain approval from the state. I had to undergo scrutiny from a testing unit unfamiliar with my background before the state would even consider admitting me into the program.

Following approval, I faced the challenge of attending a week-long training session in Denver, which required me to take time off work and arrange transportation. I relied on financial support from my parents to cover expenses and was fortunate enough to stay with my wife’s cousin, who graciously lent me her car for commuting to the training sessions.

As if the journey wasn’t already challenging, a flat tire added an unexpected hurdle when my wife, Jenna, came to pick me up. With our son, Billy, by her side, they managed to change the tire, albeit with the spare being low on pressure. Fortunately, a kind stranger came to their aid, exemplifying the unexpected acts of kindness that can occur in times of need.

Embarking on our entrepreneurial journey was a lengthy process filled with challenges. It took years to gain momentum, and just as we made the bold decision to strike out on our own, the COVID-19 pandemic struck less than four months later. Despite the uncertainty, we made the pivotal decision to hire one of our closest friends, providing them with stable employment during the economic downturn.

From navigating the daily rollercoaster of entrepreneurship to evolving into a small business, the journey was fraught with ups and downs. We encountered setbacks such as customers, for whom we had purchased permits with our own funds, failing to reimburse us. However, each mistake served as a valuable lesson, contributing to our ongoing growth and development.

One notable misstep was the purchase of a truck in anticipation of significant CDL training and testing demand, only to have it remain idle for nearly 12 months. Eventually, we had to sell it, realizing that our initial projections didn’t align with the reality of our business operations.

Achieving my pilot’s license was a transformative journey, one that I’ve captured in a detailed devotional. It’s an inspiring read, filled with insights and reflections on the process.

In essence, my journey started with enthusiasm, but I encountered delays as my instructor prioritized other students. Just as I was poised to take the next step and fly solo in a multi-engine aircraft, my instructor unexpectedly ceased instruction, leaving me in a challenging position, particularly after I had assisted him in obtaining a unique endorsement for his license using my own plane.

Despite the setbacks, I pivoted and persisted, ultimately reaching the finish line. Now, I stand ready for whatever new adventures lie ahead in this unpredictable journey we call life.

I’ve been fortunate to receive plenty of support along the way. However, every time an opportunity arose, I was the one who took the initiative.

I initiated asking Jenna out on a date, drew up plans for our house, and approached banks for funding. I persisted relentlessly in pursuing my goal of becoming a CDL tester and took significant risks when we launched our business, putting my entire family on the line. When faced with setbacks, such as my instructor leaving me hanging during my pilot’s license training, I pivoted and found alternative paths forward.

Every milestone in my life is the result of my proactive actions. Nothing was handed to me, and the same applies to you.

So, if you’re waiting for opportunities to come knocking at your door, it’s time to act. Get off the couch, put down your phone, and actively seek out those opportunities. They’re likely right in front of you, waiting for you to seize them.

As Thomas Edison famously said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Enhance your faith-led leadership journey with God First Life Next. Explore empowering insights at “You Have To Be Willing to Put in the Work” Let faith guide your leadership. Click for purposeful living at









“When you want something you have to be willing to take a chance and go after it.”


The other day I was chatting with someone about business and where they wanted to end up in life.

I asked if they had a clear purpose and destination in their life of where they wanted to be in the next few years or heck even the next 30 days.

They told me that long term they really wanted to have a business that they could hand down to their kids to run.

That sounds pretty good to me.

So I asked them what they were willing to do to make that happen.

Their answer kind of shocked me.

“Well Dan, I’m not really sure how to make that happen.  If someone was to hand me a million dollars then I could probably create one.  Or maybe if they could just give me a business that I could run then I would have it.”

If you know me you know that I’m not really good at hiding my expressions. So I am 10000% sure that they could see the look on my face.

Before I could do anything they started talking again.

“Dan you sure are lucky that the Lord has blessed you with so much and such a GREAT life!  I wish that would just happen to me.  Someone would just give me a business like yours to be my own.  You know or give the money to start one!”

My first thought was….

Yes, I am lucky that he has blessed me.

And don’t get me wrong I give God FULL credit for everything in my life.  From my amazing wife Jenna, to my kids, to where I live, to the business, our clients, our team, our stuff, the way I was raised, our community, and the experiences that I get to have.

But I have also worked my butt off for him and the life that I have. It wasn’t just handed to me.

After those thoughts passed through my head. I literally laughed out loud!!!

Then I pondered for a second how to respond.

I told him this story.

A very strong Christian was walking through the desert in AZ when he saw this amazing garden.

His first thought was what is the amazing beautiful garden doing out here in the middle of the desert?

Then his next thought was this is a mirage!!

As he walked closer he saw that it was REAL.  So he walked through the gate and marveled at the beauty of the garden and all the plants.

Then he decided that he was going to find the owner and let them know that this garden was only possible because god had blessed it.

As he walked around he found the owner. And proceeded to let him know, “You know that this amazing garden is only possible because of God!”

After about a 30-minute “lesson” (more like a lecture) he finally stopped talking to the owner.

The entire time the owner sat there patiently listening to the Christians lecture.

When he had finished the Christian asked him what he had to say.

The gardener responded, “You are 100% correct this is only possible because of God, but you should have seen this place before I got here. It was just a desert!”

My point here is that god gives us opportunities every day.

It is our choice if we take up the task as our own.  And if we do then God wants to see us succeed.


We have to make the decision to do the work.

God is not going to “hand” you a business, or a finished project.

Because he knows that as people we won’t appreciate the finished product the same if we don’t labor in the creation.

Just like making babies. It’s a lot of fun to begin with.  Then a lot of work, about 18+ years. Then finally after years and years of effort, we get to enjoy watching the fruits of our labor venture out into the world and eventually we become grandparents.

I think you get my point.

God will give us the tools to succeed but we have to be willing to do the work.


Take Action

Today I want you to pause for a second and think about if you have thought about how blessed someone else is.

Did you do it potentially with a haughty heart? (Longing for what they have.)

If you did, look at the risks they took to get where they are.

Are you willing to take those same risks?

The next time you look at anyone else’s creation don’t look at the finished product.

Look at the labor that went into the creation.  From the initial thought (concept) to the design, to the first round, to the finished refined product.


A little more.

As I stand here writing this I am reflecting on the conversation that I had with that person.

And my mind is still blown that they thought that I had been handed everything that I have.

The truth is that that thought is 1000% wrong. 

I went back and reflected on all the decisions that I have made that lead me to where I am today.

From not letting Jenna break up with me in high school. That’s right she wanted to break up at one point and I told her “No I wouldn’t let her do that.”  Then we worked through the issues we were having.

To build our house, we were turned down by more than 9 banks before we finally got approved for a construction loan. And the only reason we got approved was that we found the heart of one person and one branch.  Because we had already been rejected at the main branch.  It was only when I went to a branch that that manager decided to take a gamble on us.

To becoming a CDL tester, it took me over 1.5 years to get figure out the process and get approved by the state.  I had literally had to get approved by a testing unit that knew nothing about me before the state would consider letting me into the program.  Then after that, I had to take time off of work to go to Denver for a week for training. I browed money from my parents to get up there. Then I stayed with my wife’s cousin and she let me borrow her car to back and forth to the training.

Then when Jenna came up to pick me up she got a flat tire and Billy (5 at the time) had to help her change the tire on our van.  And the spare was low on pressure someone amazing stopped by to help her.

To starting our own business, it took years to get traction.  Then after making the decision to step out on our own corona hit less than 4 months later!!  We hired one of our best friends and because of the economic situation, we could keep them employed.  From the daily ups and downs of starting a business to growing into a small business.

To have customers that we bought permits for with our money NEVER pay us back.  Making a mistake after mistake after mistake and learning from every single one of those mistakes. I’m sure that we are not done making mistakes yet!!

I bought a truck thinking that we would be doing a ton of CDL training and testing. Only to have that same truck sit for almost 12 months before I sold it because we didn’t even put 200 miles on it.

To getting my pilot’s license. I wrote a whole devotional on that process alone.  You should read it was GREAT.

The short version is that I got started, but then my instructor put me behind other students. Then when I was ready to go solo in a multi-engine, the instructor told me that he was no longer going to be an instructor.  Just after I helped him add a very unique endorsement to his license using my plane.

To pivoting and finally getting to the finish line.

And whatever comes next in this crazy adventure we call life.

I have had TONS of help.  But every single time something happened I had to be the first one to take action.

I had to ask Jenna on a date. I had to draw up plans for the house and ask the bank for $$.  I had to be relentless when I wanted to become a CDL tester. I put my whole family at risk when we started our business. For my pilot’s license, I had to pivot and find a different direction when the instructor left me hanging. 

Everything that has happened in my life is because I took action.

It was never handed to me, just like it hasn’t been handed to you.

So, if you are one of those who are waiting for an opportunity to come knocking at your door.

Get your butt off the couch, stop playing on your phone, and start looking for that opportunity. 

Because it most likely it is right in Infront of you.  You just have to bend over and pick it up.

Thomas Eddison said it best when he said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”


Share this Post :

Join our Newsletter

Get all latest news, exclusive deals and academy updates.