I have quit my job and I am actually walking away from my family’s business. Even as I type this, I get emotional at the thought of it. In my entire life, I have only had one job outside of our family business – waiting tables the summer after college. Now, I have made the decision to take a new path and I can tell you…it is a thrilling (and scary) path!
It is that time of year! It is the time that, statistically, most Americans give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. If the studies I have read are accurate, then 80 percent of those who made resolutions or set goals at the beginning of the year have given up on them by now. Can you believe that? 80 percent! If that is true of you, then I have a solution for you.
In my last post, I talked about how God wants all of us on a great adventure with Him. He is not looking for us to play it safe (2 Chronicles 16:9). I made the case that He wants us fully committed to Him, willing to risk it all for whatever unknown adventure He has in store for us. If that is the case, why would anyone NOT experience this great adventure?
As I have planned for this year and completed my goal-setting process, I have determined that I am going to build on some of my successes from last year. In doing this, I am going to take some bigger risks and go after bigger experiences and results. In a word, I want this year to be an adventure!
What about you? Are you living a great adventure? Or are you just watching (and envying) those who are?
I am not sure about you, but this past year has flown by for me. Not only has this year flown by, but I will say with confidence that it has been my best year ever, in many respects! As I look back over what all has been accomplished this year, I am amazed. I am also excited because I know why and I believe I can build on it this new year.
Best Year Ever
If the idea of having your best year ever interests you, then I have good news for you.
Maybe it is the material I am choosing to read. It could be the kind of people I am around these days. Whatever the case, I am hearing more and more about life plans and finding a “calling” from God. I wonder if there might be a serious problem in these discussions that too many people are missing?
Life Plans Are Good
First of all, I do not want anyone to think I believe life plans are bad! I have one myself that I tweak and clarify every year. I have written a great deal about being intentional in living out or lives for eternal impact. A solid life plan can be a great tool in this process.
Every year in December, our C12 material includes a Yearly Audit. It is a great opportunity to look back over the past year and assess what it might look like from God’s eyes. Rather than auditing our financials or other measurable metrics, this exercise is more about determining our growth in various areas of our walk with Christ.
This year, I have included the actual audit from C12. Take a look at the following 10 dimensions and give yourself a rating from 1-10 (1 is Low, 5 is Average, and 10 is High) as measured against your potential or opportunity. Total your scores for each at the end of the post. Keep track of your score from year to year to see your improvement as you go!
1. You spent more time with The Lord.
- This is an easy one. Everything we are or do comes out of our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. We can never be more than our relationship with Him enables us to be. Obedience to God is the FINAL definition of success in our lives and our obedience comes out of our relationship with Him. As we grow to know Him better we are more able to hear His voice. The more clearly we hear Him, the easier it is to obey Him.
Don’t be deceived. Our ministry in business or anywhere else will never grow if our relationship with God doesn’t. Of course our relationship with God is not totally defined by the amount of time that we spend with Him. The quality of the time and the result of the time are just as important. It’s possible that you may not have to spend more time with God to build your relationship with Him… but not likely!
Unless you’re “one-in-a-million,” your love for God and your devotion to Him are mirrored in the prioritized time you spend with Him. We’re talking about all kinds of time here: daily quiet time, prayer during the day, evening meditations, and the sense that He is in you and with you in the everyday decisions you make to run the business.
Wherever each of us may be in this equation, there’s plenty of room to grow. How was your year?
2. Your family relationships strengthened.
- Were you able to spend more time — and more quality time — with your spouse and children? We need to look at these relationships right after our relationship with God. It isn’t very likely that we had an improving relationship with God and a deteriorating relationship with our family.
We can’t really get closer to God and not be convicted to love and serve our mates and children. Did you make more time available to your spouse, as your top ministry priority, and less to your hobbies or business? Is your sacrificial love for (and service to) your family growing? If so, you’ve had a good year.
[Why do we start a year-end audit of our business by talking about God and family? Because we can only bring to work what we already have in Christ in our lives and homes. We are not two people. We are one person, living an integrated life before the Lord. Our ministry in business is simply an extension of our lives in Christ, not separate from it!]
3. You spent more time listening and relating to your key team members on a one–to–one basis.
- Increasingly, you did this with an ear tuned to God and His purposes and eyes searching for ways to minister to stakeholder needs. You had a good year if you care more for your lost employees, seeing the horrible prospect of their eternity in hell more painfully. You had a good year if you frequently prayed for their salvation, and an even better year if you actually did something more to impact them for eternity.
4. You saw the people that you deal with – suppliers, customers, employees, and others – more as objects of your personal ministry than as objects to be exploited for your personal gain.
- If you increasingly see yourself as an entrusted servant to them, rather than master over them — even a little bit more — you had a good year.
5. You are even slightly less acquisitive than you were a year ago.
- The urge to acquire things is of the flesh, not the Spirit. The vain thought that simply possessing more stuff will bring any real benefit to our lives is immature and foolish. Any honest Christian knows that there’s no joy or peace in things.
The more stuff we have, the more we must tend to and use. Materialism is a curse; a cancer of the spirit. If you’ve extricated yourself, even a little, from its grasp, and are more able to steward your gifts with an open hand before the Lord, you’ve had a good year. You might measure this as a percentage of what you gave from what you were given. Were you more of a “cheerful giver” of your “first fruits” this year?
6. You are measurably more thankful for what you have and content with your present lot in life.
- Spiritual maturity brings with it a contentment that comes from the awareness of what God has done for us by grace. What do we have that we deserve? And, given that we have as much as we all do, being among the most materially wealthy people in the history of the world, how can we not be thankful? Why do we need more?
If God were to say to you, “What you have is the best it will ever be,” what would you say to Him? Could you say, “Thank You, Father…I already have more than I deserve or need,” and really mean it? If you can, with a truly grateful heart, you’ve had a good year.
7. You have more peace in your heart.
- This is especially true if the peace is not related to circumstances, since circumstances always change. If our peace is dependent on them, it comes and goes with the changes. Spiritual maturity, and the peace that comes with it, is dependent on abiding in our God who never changes. Do you more clearly see God’s hand in your circumstances (i.e., “…give thanks in all circumstances” [1 Thessalonians 5:18], “Consider it pure joy…” [James 1:2], “…in all things God works…” [Romans 8:28]). If so, you’ve had a good year.
8. You learned more about your profession and are able to apply greater technical expertise in your field.
- If you believe that (a) your business is a gift from God, (b) as steward you’re to run it for Him with excellence, and (c) you’ve mustered the time and will to learn and apply better ways to do so, you had a good year.
9. You took better care of your body.
- Did you get the exercise you need? Was your diet better than last year? Are you giving the time to the maintenance of your body that you know you should? The way we care for our body is one measure of our self–control and a visible part of our witness. Mastery of self is a key to spiritual growth. If your temple is in better shape than it was a year ago, allowing for the wear and tear of time, you had a good year.
10. More eternal fruit has been produced through and around you, due to your effort and influence while abiding in Christ.
- Eternal fruit is defined as “lives turned toward God.” It means simply this: your obedience to God in what you say, do, and are, influences others to move towards God in their thoughts and actions, yielding eternal fruit.
This doesn’t only involve conversions and discipleship. It includes anything that brings a heightened and more favorable awareness of God and His ways to others. A Godly life lived in a Godly way produces eternal fruit. Everywhere Jesus went eternal fruit was produced. This is true in all areas of our lives, not just in business, but we’re talking primarily about the workplace here.
Are more people more favorably aware that you are an Ambassador for Christ in and around your business? Have more needy people been helped because God has entrusted the business to your care? Do they know that they’ve been helped because you love God and are doing so in His name? Are more Christians being influenced to grow in their faith because your business has brought you, reflecting Christ, into their lives? Have you grown as a humble, but firm servant leader and found ways to lead effectively according to timeless Scriptural core principles?
If you can see that more eternal fruit has been produced in, around, and through your business, you’ve had a GREAT year.
_____ Total for the Year (Total your ratings for all 10 dimensions)
What were your strongest areas in the audit? Did you work on them?
Where do you need the most improvement?
Do you see value in this annual audit exercise?
What is your life purpose? What actually motivates you to fulfill that life purpose? When the going gets really tough and you are tempted to give in, what thought do you cling to for the strength to keep pressing forward? While you think about the answers to those questions, I am going to share my answers to those same questions. Maybe my answers will help you think through yours!
In her second guest post in this two-part series, Kari Scare digs into the details about the daily plan that is part of her overall life plan. Her method is simple and straight forward, making it very useable for anyone! It brings some structure, but retains flexibility for those days we all need it! I highly recommend you take a look at her overall “Big Picture” in her last post as well as consider the details of her daily plan as she describes it today. You will probably want to read more from Kari at her blog – Struggle to Victory.
My Daily Plan
As detailed in The Big Picture, my husband and I created a life plan together many years ago. We do our best to teach our boys the elements of that life plan in the way we operate as a family and as individuals.
Each member of my family lives out the life plan in very different ways, that is to say we have unique daily game plans. Though how we each live in the details is unique to the individual, we still work as a unit to make sure our family stays on track with its priorities.
Today’s post details the carrying out of the Big Picture “daily plan” from my perspective.
Creating a Daily Plan
Each morning, I make time to allow the following process to happen. During the week, this process can last an hour or two. When the family is home, the process sometimes need shortened or at least metered out differently.
- 1. Hear the timeline the Holy Spirit has for my day. Because I tend to over-control, I must give my day over right away to the Spirit’s control. I do this through time in prayer and God’s Word.
- 2. Make a list of the day’s goals. Sometimes this involves repurposing part of my last “to do” list, and sometimes a new one gets created. This list comes into existence during step 1, usually one piece at a time.
- 3. Seek confirmation of the game plan. Did I mention that I tend to over control? Because this truly is a chronic struggle for me, I spend time reading Christian blog posts and short devotions after my list is created. No set number, just enough until I feel a peace in my spirit about the day’s plan.
This approach attempts to pre-empt my tendency to over-control and script my day too much. In my head, I call it forcing things. I used to live a life where I forced every aspect, partly because I lacked patience and partly because I thrived on control. This scripting or forcing always led to immense frustration.
The above process works well for creating my daily plan. But alone, it’s not quite enough structure. I like flexibility, but I also realize that my moods and feelings can easily distract me. For this reason, I use the following tools to help keep me focused and structured enough to stay productive.
- · Lists
Some are paper & some electronic. My weekly project list and daily “to do” list (sometimes these are one and sometimes separate), are written out on paper. Then, I use Evernote and Alarm Stiky Note on my tablet for other lists such as books to read and shopping lists.
- · Calendars
I have an electronic calendar for appointments and a paper calendar for my writing. The electronic calendar goes with me pretty much everywhere, but the blog calendar stays with my writing material. I check my electronic calendar daily and the writing calendar when necessary to direct my writing priorities.
- · Journal
This is where I keep prayer requests, where I express my emotion, where I address problems and struggles, and where I consider goals and focus areas.
- · Devotions
Devotions allow God to direct my thoughts, feelings, goals, etc. Sometimes I use a book of devotions, and sometimes I use devotions from other blogs. Sometimes I read just one, sometimes several. God uses devotions written by godly people to confirm His Spirit’s direction.
- · Bible study
The Holy Spirit always has a specific focus for me to study that goes deeper than daily devotions.
- · Scripture memorization
This is the area with which I struggle the most. I continually have scripture I want to memorize and am working on a solid system that I can stick with.
- · Idea book
While I am very picky about the book I use for this, I am not so picky about what I write inside. Sometimes I write brief thoughts, quotes and notes. Sometimes, I write outlines for posts or studies. And often, I write an entire post out before typing it. This is the book I take with me when writing at the coffee shop or sitting outside on the deck. When I want to decide blog post topics, I go through this book.
Each of these items is an essential tool in my daily plan. They are adaptable to my needs and moods, yet they also provide a structure that helps me stay focused. This system helps me release control and rely more on the Spirit’s leading as I live out the details of The Big Picture.
Do you see how you could manage a similar daily plan?
Which of these tools should you immediately add to your daily plan?
Do you see enough flexibility in this daily plan process?