Today’s Monday’s Marinate has a different feel than past posts. I’m being moved into a process, and I want to share it with you. Perhaps there are elements you can apply in your life. Certainly, that is my prayer. In addition, I have a few announcements.
I’ve silently hovered over the concept of planning for several weeks now. I guess you could say I marinated in what God has to say about the importance of planning. What He says in His Word and what I sense Him saying in my prayer time with Him.
In my “former life” as a corporate sales person, strategic planning and forecasting were integral elements to success. Each year I awaited corporate goals and expectations. After I received the directives, I spent considerable time planning how to attain initiatives handed down by management.
Once a year I would slice and dice every element and aspect of my territory. The process was in-depth and time consuming, but fruitful. I dug to determine where all the potential existed.
Beyond the big excavation in search of treasure to improve territory performance, I engaged in quarterly planning as well. I tracked and measured my own matrixes. Yes, they were aligned with corporate initiatives, but I made the measurements my own. I wanted to succeed probably even more than my managers wanted me to.
Mind you, at the time, my motivation was not good. I wanted to succeed in order to feel I was worth something. My insecurity demanded perfection, which is never a good combination. I didn’t know Christ, so sadly my career took center stage. It’s where I attained my worth and value. (None of which I was aware of at the time.) That’s a precarious place to put one’s self.
When my career got stripped away, I couldn’t tell you who I was anymore. I stumbled and struggled over the question “What do you do for a living?” because I equated what I do to who I am.
Of course, that’s not true for any of us. We are more than our jobs. Much more.
In part, I think this is why God asks me to hold all things loosely. He does not want anything I love to consume me more than Him. If I consume myself with Him, I am less likely to be deceived into some sort of false idolatry: exactly what my former sales career had been. God desires good things for us all. For me, He knows I need to take care not to be consumed by things (and people) I love.
That type of deception almost destroyed me once. The kind that says, “Do what you love with a passion”.
Don’t get me wrong, passion is important fuel to pursue our God-given calling. However, it should burn like a controlled fire in the forest, so it doesn’t consume the ranger. Before you know it, a runaway fire can engulf everything and everyone around it.
Passion is important fuel to pursue our God-given calling, burning like a controlled forest fire rather than flames ravaging out of control.
Finding balance is difficult for yours truly. But God has taught me (and is teaching me) much in this area. The Holy Spirit does not let me stray too far off center before reeling me back into a more realistic reality, one that is sustainable.
Daily connection to God is the only assurance I won’t slip back into old ways. Old ways put on like comfy sweatpants that are dangerous to a woman’s waist-line, because they allow for over-indulgence. You don’t feel discomfort as you eat one more bite as the elastic waist stretches and allows you to eat more than you should. You don’t see the damage until you step on the scale or try to put on your favorite pair of jeans. By then, it’s too late. Fitting back into your favorite pair will require great discipline on your part.
God doesn’t want me (or you) to go through major overhauls and upheavals in order to fit, content in our lives. So how do we avoid that fate?
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.—Proverbs 16:3 NIV
In order not to be consumed by our plans, we must commit them to the Lord. It’s the only way.
Even if you don’t struggle with the same issues I do, we all need to plan. Planning helps determine where we are going. When we know where we are going, we’re more likely to arrive at our intended destination. Certainly, we’ll be moved closer to our goal if we have planned.
We need to commit our plans to the Lord. Let Him establish them. Welcome Him into the process and let Him guide us through it. He knows what we need even more than we do. He knows the desires of our heart. He even knows detours we many need to take in order to fulfill the plans He has for us. Make no mistake. He has plans for you.
God has plans for you.
It would be worthwhile to ask Him what they are. You might be surprised at what you hear. I have been. Some cause me to step out on a ledge and take prayerful, calculated risk. And that’s the exciting part of faith and walking with Christ. Christianity certain not to become bore when we allow God in as Establisher of our plans. We embark on adventures we couldn’t anticipate.
Why else is it important to invite God into our planning process?
When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.—Proverbs 29:18 NLT
If I’m not careful, I can be like a race horse. Kicking and clamoring to sprint toward the finish even before the gate opens. Blinders on, I remain intently focused. Perhaps, I would win the race. People could place bets on my performance and watch intently. Will she succeed? Or will she fail? As long as you’re winning, you’re celebrated. But what happens when the horse loses? Or comes in second? Such pursuits lead to the proverbial “striving after the wind”. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
If we are hyper-focused, we lose joy (or could). Often, I read other writers—those considered “experts”—who say write every day. Write with passion. I don’t discount those thoughts entirely, BUT I do think we should take care with the intensity of our focus. Some of these “experts” are Christians, but not always do I sense joy (sometimes, but not always). And if we are doing anything – whatever it is we are called to as Christians — and not living in a joyful manner, that effects our witness for Christ. God is the ultimate expert. Listen to Him and the frequency He gives for whatever our call.
If we don’t accept divine guidance, we run wild (Prov 29:18). That’s a wake-up call for all of us who call ourselves Christians.
Here is divine guidance God recently gave me. I propose you put these before the Lord in regards to your own life and see if God wants you to do anything in the area of seeking divine guidance and planning for your life and the things you are passionate about.
#1 Continue Seeking God Each Day
Connection with God is always important, but it is imperative when planning. Remember, His guidance prevents us from running wild, like a horse galloping out of control. (Prov 29:18).
#2 Step Back From What You Are Doing (This is not the same as stopping)
September seems like an odd time to push pause for planning, but that is why it is the perfect time to plan. It won’t be some New Year’s resolution forgotten before ample time is given to adopt a new habit. Perhaps we can set goals and achieve them when they are not part of society’s acceptable norm of not keeping them.
Maybe we could call this planning period, September’s Step Back.
#3 September’s Step Back
What is September’s Step Back?
I feel God calling me to cast vision for my life. The whole. Big. Thing. Not in minutiae yet. First things first, He has posed this question to me: What do you want your life to look like?
That’s a big question encompassing—well— everything! This is not the same as what I want to do; that’s only a small part of it. Dig to determine where all the potential exists.
This question asks things like:
Who do you want in your life?
Who is there celebrating your successes and picking you up when you make a big blunder?
What brings you joy?
What is your calling?
How do you have fun?
What will you do to help others?
How do you love yourself effectively (taking care of yourself)?
How do you love others well?
I think the process starts with big quadrants. Those pieces of life that form the complete picture of who we are, where we’re going, and who is coming along with us for the ride. Our quadrants won’t be the same, but the process of looking at our life in segments can be.
Here’s the thing. I believe God is helping me avoid attaining success in one area of life at the cost of another. If I have a crystal clear image of what I want my life to look like, I am more likely to live that life. It’s one full of joy and fulfillment, not imbalance and striving.
For example, I enjoy spending time with friends. Spiritual conversations regenerate my spirit and fuel me. And so, I need to be intentional about setting time aside to meet and engage with my friends. It might even be on a Thursday when I’m supposed to be “working”. I’m kicking that whole legalistic mind set to the curb. It doesn’t mean I’m not committed to those things God has called me to do. It means I’m in pursuit of living a life balanced between doing and being and even playing.
That’s why it’s important to know what I want my life to look like (you too). When we know what we want our lives to look like, we know where to dedicate our time. What would be very tragic is realizing too late that the things we cared most about we lost sight of (or never even glanced upon). My prayer is no one reading this makes that mistake. I pray each of you will seek divine guidance and that you lead the fulfilled, joyful life God has called you to.
If we wanted to go on vacation, most of us would choose where we want to travel in advance. That’s what setting our life’s vision is about: establishing in advance our travel destination. It’s not our entire itinerary, but we have plane tickets purchased to get us where we desire to go.
#4 Beyond Vision
Once we know the destination we want our lives to travel, break the quadrants into more specific and detailed plans. For example, some of my quadrants could be: faith, family, friendships, fitness, & fulfillment of “calling”.
I then take each one and further segment it, paying attention to balance (since that’s my issue). So as I start to slice and dice all of this, I eventually get to a game plan – like a playbook developed with God — that helps me be intentional in how I live my life and what I give my time to.
I don’t have all those answers yet. I’ve barely begun, at least officially on paper. There are plenty of ideas flitting about in my brain, some of which involve this blog.
#5 What’s Next?
God is calling me to take time away from my blog, at least in the writing of it. I’m actually not taking time off at all. I’m planning behind the scenes. I honestly do not know how long this process is going to take. This is in God’s timing, not mine.
I definitely anticipate changes. Some things will stay the same. Others will not. I’ve gotten a bit of divine inspiration that I’m holding close to my chest at the moment, but I’m pretty excited about the idea. It came as I read Bob Goff’s Love Does. I thought to myself: this guy is crazy (in such a good way). I was very inspired. That’s the only teaser you’re getting.
I think you can count on this: my desire for the blog is to encourage, challenge, and inspire others. I’ve wrestled with my tag line “Dew drop in for blessings”, but I still like it. If we are challenged in love, it is a blessing. If we’re not growing and learning, we become stale and stagnant and so do our lives.
God transforms us daily. It’s part of His divine plan. If He has a plan, shouldn’t we?
QUESTIONS & ACTIONS
- What plans has God given you?
- What steps do you need to take with Him to achieve them?
Perhaps, you need to ask God what plans He has for you. If so, pray to Him now and listen to what He has to say to you.