Monthly Archives: April 2017

dull day

Essential Ingredients for Life

Do you find that you have too many lacklustre days?

Ones where nothing seems to happen; that are just filled with the mundane. Is it that you’re just getting older and life isn’t as exciting as it used to be? Is it time to change jobs, find a new partner, take up an extreme sport or splash out on a fast car?

Well you could, but I’m guessing that in a short while the mundane days will return and then it will be time to make another change.

So, what are the essential ingredients required for a fulfilled and happy life? Is it the right job, the right partner, the right pastime. Is it the chasing after your dreams, ambitions or next exciting purchase?

Whilst all of these things have the potential to bring happiness, all will ultimately disappoint. I believe that there’s something else that has the potential to transform the mundane or stressful days regardless of our position.

Ingredient 1: Understanding Your Purpose

First and foremost, it’s vital to know that you were created on purpose and designed with purpose. God decided to create you. It wasn’t simply the decision of your parents. Nor was it just the lack of use of the appropriate method of contraception. No. God decided that he wanted a ‘insert your name here’ in the world so he created you. And why did he want one of you? Because he desired to have a friend to share creation with, someone to share his love with, someone to be in his family.

It is written in Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ingredient 2: Take Your Eyes Off You

A focusing on our own situation is a sure and certain way to find unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life. Why? Because we’ll always be constantly aware of how very inadequate we truly are. This leads to only one conclusion, that the problem cannot be me but must be the people and things around me. I can’t possibly be at fault!

If we’re going to get a true perspective in life we must take our eyes off ourselves and look first to Christ, our perfect saviour. We first must see that Christ is the answer to our inadequacy. We are only truly complete in Him.

Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Colossians 2:10 says, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ.

Ingredient 3: Find Your Function

Tools work best when they are doing what there was designed to do, not something else. Have you ever tried doing a piece of DIY with the wrong tools? It’s hard work and usually ends in a botched job or a poor result. We need to the use the right tools for the right job. And that goes for people as much as it does for tools. We’re each created with a set of distinct abilities, gifts and talents. God had a purpose in mind when he created us. Why? Because he so values us he wants for us to share in his work. Therefore it’s essential that we find out what job has given us and start operating according to the maker’s instructions. Operating in any other way is going to make a botched job of both your life and others.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for creating me; for choose to make me as you designed. I praise you for wanting me, for loving me.

Forgive me when I’ve not acknowledge you, when I’ve focused on my own needs and desires, and have not operated according to your plan.

Help me Lord, to live my life out in your service; that I might help fulfil your great mission. Give me your spirit and increase my faith so I can accomplish all that you have set out for me. May I be a blessing to all that I meet today.

Amen

He lovingly leads us

He lovingly leads us

As a self-employed person, I’m in the business of giving advice and supporting other self-employed people running their own businesses. Although, being self-employed has it’s benefits it is often tough, bringing new pressures to bear. Not only do you have to balance responsibilities at home and work, but you also have to be a master of many skills, not just in what you’re selling to your customers. For instance, you also need to be a salesperson, marketer, strategist, product manager, accountant, administrator, secretary, receptionist, host and so on. Knowing how to prioritise everything can be very challenging.

The other difficulty for someone in charge of their own time, is the temptation to be drawn into new opportunities. For instance, when someone comes to you for help and they are willing to pay you, it can be hard to say no. But if that activity isn’t part of your strategy then it can prevent you actually achieving your goals.

And this is where I begin to thing about God’s purposes for my life, whether that conflicts with my own plans. As someone who spends a lot of time developing strategies, it can be a challenge to know when it’s right to divert from a plan. On the one hand, diverting can both delay and dilute the original goal but on the other, we cannot simply ignore everything around us in order to fulfil our own goals; life’s not that simple.

We need to allow time to reflect on where we’re going and we need to be willing to occasionally put down our plans in order to help someone else. Whilst goals are a valuable tool for many aspects of our life, we shouldn’t become a slave to them and exclude all others. After all, the journey really is more important that just getting to the destination.

If you’re task or goal oriented, here’s some tips on how to prevent losing sight of the here and now:

Schedule time to listen and reflect

I schedule time first thing in the morning to focus on the various roles I fulfil. On Monday’s I think about the people I come into contact through my work. On Wednesday’s I think about my friends and family, on Thursday’s I think about people linked to the charity I work for. This practise ensures that I am being regularly mindful of people despite my busy schedule.

Schedule time for people

Make space in your diary for people that doesn’t involve work. All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy, but tells people you’re more interested in projects than people. No matter what our work is, the work is always people and not projects. Put time in to have lunch with others, to go places together and intentionally try to find out about people. Show an interest in others, and this includes your partner and your family; don’t neglect them because of your busy schedule.

Make time to discuss plans and ideas

Having a mentor is one of the most beneficial things you can do in business. It’s invaluable to be able to share your ideas with someone who can help you put them into some sort of order, who’s able to ask you questions you haven’t thought about. Getting someone else’s perspective prevents me from taking on too much and keeps me focused on what I’m supposed to be doing. I actually have several mentors that I meet with monthly. Each one supports me with different roles, such as my charity work or my business.

Make time to think about the bigger questions

No matter what your personal beliefs, one things for certain and that each of us have specific gifts and abilities; we each enjoy different things. It’s important to make the most of our opportunities in life, that means spending time to discover our natural gifts and abilities, looking for opportunities to use them and investing time in developing them. This might not be as hard as it seems. I spend time praying and meditating, I also read specific books and articles and I seek out people with similar talents to myself. What I find is that I learn more about who I am each year that passes. This spurns me on to be the best version of myself that I can be, and to seek to put my talents to best use helping others.

Cultivate a good attitude

Whilst fighting hard and being tenacious are good qualities, it’s important to recognise when it’s time to stop. This means having the humility to admit defeat at times and defer to another course of action. This might mean letting someone else take over or shutting something down all together. It’s may also mean needing to forgive others and choose to have a positive outlook for the future. Carrying unnecessary baggage around is going to seriously slow you down!

As a follower of Christ I am continually reminded that he is my guide. He doesn’t just give me wise counsel and advice but he leads me. He comes into my situation and leads me out and up. When I lose my footing or stray from the path, he returns for me, takes me by the hand and leads me back. Mistakes are forgiven, hope restored and we begin again.

Bible Passages

Jeremiah 29:4-11 v11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.