It’s a new year. A new set of New Year’s resolutions that, if you’re anything like me, won’t stick past the next weeks. I’ve never thought much about my resolutions and generally end up setting unrealistic goals such as “I want to lose 20 lbs by next week” or I will save x amount of dollars only to be sidelined financially by cute must have winter snow boots. It’s only natural to get discouraged at the failures of unmet resolutions and fall off the wagon all together. Usually I’m off the wagon by January 3.
For this year my resolution is to actually stick to my resolution. I picked one (or two if counting sticking to my resolution a resolution). A kingdom mindset resolution rather than a worldly one. One that is not so easily attainable, but will require leaning into my faith to achieve my goal. For 2015 and, in reality, for the rest of my life, I want to succeed at intentional living.
A buzz phrase among the Christian community, I often wonder if Christians realize what we are committing ourselves to when we tell others we strive to live with intention. It’s a path littered with rocks and other obstacles that can easily veer someone off course, but the reward in God’s kingdom is well worth the journey. Here are three ways I’m choosing to shape my 2015 with intentional living.
Remembering the Call of The Great Commission
As Christians our home is in Heaven at the foot of our creator. Earth feels and is temporary because, as it currently exists, it is not the kingdom God originally intended for us. Adam and Eve’s choice to sin and our ongoing rebellion has destroyed the perfect kingdom God designed for us. Of course this will not always be the case, but until we are called home and God comes to reclaim his kingdom, we are told to make use of our time on Earth. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-19) tells us exactly what we need to do with our time here.
Our days are filled with work, chores, errands, deadlines, and it becomes infinitely easier to passively live out our activities without any thought to our role in furthering God’s kingdom. Many struggle with simply knowing where or how to serve, but God’s calling can take many different forms. For some it is the mission field in the bush of a foreign country. For others it simply means being a listening ear for a struggling coworker.
We have an opportunity to share about our creator in all of our day to day encounters, and one way to live a life with intention during this new year is to decide how you can better serve the kingdom throughout your day. As a mother, daughter, friend, spouse, stranger, the opportunities are endless. It is our choice how to use these interactions.
It’s a perfect time to take inventory and appraise all the relationships in our lives (including the ones that have run their course). There may be a few that should end. Others that may need mending. Are our days spent cultivating healthy friendships with others or are we filling up our lives with people that pull us away from our Christian walk? Loneliness is a tough feeling to shake and sometimes it’s easier to recklessly fill this void with any human interaction than to draw close to our Heavenly Father for comfort.
Now is also a great time to evaluate our the roles we play in our relationships. Do we love selflessly as Christ teaches us we should (John 13:34-35)? Are we a source of encouragement to those in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:11)? Are we sitting idly by as we see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ continuing to live in sin or are we lovingly holding them accountable as we ought (Galatians 6:1-2). Equally as important, are we allowing those important people in our lives to bring our trespasses to us so we can become a better person?
Throughout the life of Jesus, he regularly sought solitude so he could pray with His father. We are created in the image and likeness of Christ, so shouldn’t we too seek out time with God? With the many day to day demands placed upon us, it becomes difficult to prioritize the most meaningful relationship we have; however, we are told in Psalms 46:10 to “be still and know that I am God.”
By overwhelming ourselves with busyness and turning our backs on the one constant in our hectic lives, we will become like lost sheep with no shepherd. Without daily prayer or reading of scripture, there will be no guidance for our life decisions, no comfort for seasons of struggles, and no discernment for false teachings. We are literally walking down a dark path (Psalm 119:105).
Living in today’s face paced society with endless technological distractions can sometimes prove difficult for us to find even twenty minutes to eat. With all the distractions, how are we to find uninterrupted time for prayer? Being intentional isn’t always easy, and in the case it involves carving out time to feed our souls with worship, prayer, and scripture.
There are always small things we do in our daily schedules that eat away at our precious hours, but in this season of discovering what it means to be intentional with your life, it’s time to figure what unimportant distraction you can subtract from your day so you can add the necessary back into your life. Maybe it means cutting your time spent on social media in half or not watching that second rerun of your favorite late night sitcom (guilty).
As the new year begins, take the challenge to no longer live passively reacting to the things of this world. Take some well thought out time to figure out what living intentionally means to you and decide how you will start implementing the changes in your life. Remember your new journey may not always be an easy one, but we can find comfort in Jesus’s teaching in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”