Tag Archives: choices

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.

How do I find my purpose

How do I find my purpose?

Evidence shows that finding meaning and purpose in your life is one of the main contributing factors that leads to happiness. Knowing that your life has meaning and that you are valued and loved for who you are, and not what you contribute, leads to true joy and satisfaction. The difficulty is that many do not know what their purpose is in life and do not feel at all valued by others or God. Dare I say it, but christians can also be amongst those feeling as if their life lacks purpose.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing” is something I’ve often heard said. It’s typically someone who changes jobs regularly, often buys new outfits or changes the style of their hair. They are normally the kind of person who complain a lot about life in general. They are restless. How do I know this? Because I was a complainer and job changer for much of my life!

I’ve always had great ambition, ever since I was a young man. Even though I’m somewhat older, that ambition for greater things remains very strong within me. At the age of eleven I made the decision to become a christian. I felt such a powerful sense of purpose and just knew that life was never going to be dull. I knew that there were great things in store for me. This wasn’t just because I’d been told this at church. I felt it within my very core. The problem I had was that I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to be doing that was so important!

I was desperate to find out where it was I was going and arrive at my final destination. I didn’t realise that life was a journey. I had the tendency to focus on the end goal and not look at the here and now. What happened is that I often missed what God was trying to show me right then. I had very little ability to see what it was that I was supposed to be doing on any given day. For this reason I tended to be easily distracted.

The other problem that I suffered from was waiting. I was neither patient nor pro-active. Waiting for something to happen was my default position. “God should just do something as I try my best to wait.” And I did try my best to be patient but often I would lose interest and go and do something else instead, something not at all helpful like going out drinking with my friends or playing computer games for hours on end.

So what’s the answer I hear you say? Should I wait patiently, continually praying, reading my bible, meditating and practising being thoughtful? Perhaps then God will reveal what I am to do?

Well, yes and no. Do you want to know the answer to life’s biggest question – why am I here. Are you ready?

You’re here because YOU ARE his purpose. He purposed your very existence because he wanted you to exist and to be in relationship with you. He loves everything about you.

So what do you do with your time knowing that you are created for God’s enjoyment? Firstly, enjoy it. You can’t go wrong. How can you have any worries knowing that a loving God created you without making any mistakes. He designed you and planned out your life from start to end. So make every effort to live a life worthy of the investment that has been made in you.

Next, move into action and get out of your seat. Go out today and expect to see God’s purpose everywhere you go. There are no coincidences in God’s kingdom. He has purpose for you each and every day and provides continual opportunities for you to be of value in this world. No matter what anyone else thinks he sees all the good deeds you do and will reward you for each and every one. That’s not to say you are earning the approval of God; if you love him you already have it. No. You should simply want to please the one who loves you.

Go and speak to people and find out about them. Find out about their interests, passions, pains and potential. Be God’s purpose in the lives of those around you. Visit places and learn about the activities that go on there, the organisations that contribute to the local economy, the charities that seek to support those in need, the churches that seek to serve their local communities. Find out what’s on, where people gather, where they go to unwind. Find where God is leading you to be his purpose.

Don’t just make a difference but be a difference. Give it your best shot. You weren’t just designed to make a difference in this world, but you are the difference to this world. For God so loves you that he made you unique, gave you gifts and abilities and provides you opportunities to make a real and lasting impact.

So what are you waiting for? Get up and go. He’s with you all the way.


 

Col 1:10-13
Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

A greater source of strength

The New Starter Test

Don’t you find that life is full of patterns. As if there are a set of laws that have to be followed. For example, the moment you make a decision to change or to start something anew there comes an immediate challenging test to try and wreck our plans. It’s not even been five minutes since we decided to turn over a new leaf, or to try extra hard from now on. We’ve made what seems like a tough and real decision to do something good. Then BANG! Not so quick, now you’ve got your special powers you can fight this monster problem.

This happened to me only yesterday. I’d been thinking and praying about whether to take on a new role within a charity I am involved in. It’s a position with a lot of responsibility and I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job. After spending time talking to various people and listening to God everything seemed to stack up. I decided that it was the right thing to do and knew that the time was right. Before I’d even informed anyone about my decision, out of the blue came a major issue that had the potential to change my mind straight away.

This is where the rubber hits the road. God’s wants to know how serious I am, and whether I and going to trust in his ability or my own. This is one of those patterns that we see all the time and are never seemingly prepared for no matter how obvious it is to others.

My first instinct is to draw up a plan of action and to start firing off emails. My mind is spinning, desperately trying to conjure up ideas that will fix the situation. I’m in serious danger of falling at the very first hurdle. I’m thinking to myself, “I’m not up for the job. I can’t do this.” I’m already not relying on God.

It’s then as I sit down for morning quiet time and begin to read his word and clear my mind of the troubles that he softly begins to speak to me. He tells me that I am to struggle and strive for his purposes but not to use my strength and energy. I’m to use his! How on earth is that possible I ask myself. Can someone strive and wrestle a problem with another person’s power. Wouldn’t that be great if it were true. I could dream up the best person to handle this situation and use all of their gifts and abilities instead of my own.

Well, apparently it is possible. Colossians 1v28 says ‘I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” So how do I use God’s power instead of my own? Firstly I need to talk to him about my challenges and allow him in to my situation. Secondly, I need to start trusting in his ability and believe he’s going to help me. Lastly, I need to revise my plan and expect him to do all that I cannot.

So it’s time to start trusting this morning in the one who is our inexhaustible source of strength, who is for us and with us in every situation.

Choices

Today is Friday 24th August. Just seemingly another day, pretty much like any other. I am 42 years old and this is my first ever blog. Although to me it’s much more than that. I have been a christian now for around 31 years and I do not consider that I have really given it my all. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have been really committed and for more than just a few days. What I mean to say is that I feel I could have done so much more. I believe life is full of opportunities to fulfil your potential, what it comes down to is commitment versus distraction.

I guess that I’m probably not alone and that many of us would say that we have not given our best. Why is that? Why is it that even when we passionately believe something that we still don’t try our hardest. Is it laziness? Or fear of failure? A lot would say those are the most obvious reasons and maybe they are right. But for me, I would say it was distractions.

It is amazing how little time there is available now. When we were young there were endless summer days to play. Long hours cycling the streets, walking in the woods, playing with friends. Now it would seem that life is just one big rush without time to even draw breath. This is not just me getting old and wondering what I’ve done with my life. No. This is life’s great distractions.

As we get older we have more responsibilities and less choices. We have families to look after, bills to pay, jobs to do. And if we don’t do them no-one else will. What this means is that we need to be very careful about the choices we make. The young think that life will go on forever and that wasting time has little consequence. At the time they are right because they have the luxury of time and there are few immediate consequences, apart from a good ear-bending for not doing your chores! As we get older we need to be thinking more carefully about what we spend our time on, what we are going to do, but perhaps more importantly what we’re not going to spend time on. You see, its these distractions that need to be removed, the things that are no longer of worth or value to us. It really is true, we can’t do everything. Certain things don’t have place in our lives.

For me it was computer games. So many hours spent. Days at a time lost. Today gaming seems to be a pastime for both young and old, especially with the arrival of the smartphone and iPad. Everyone is seemingly playing something. I knew that I did not have the time any longer to spend on gaming. This doesn’t mean that I’m against gaming just that it is no longer right for me. It was distraction to not just my responsibilities but also to my focus on my calling. Instead of preparing and training myself for my future I was wasting hours of my life attaining another million points and killing countless thousands.

I give you this challenge today – give something up. Not just anything but something that does not have a place in your life today. It might by a sport, a TV programme or a pub visit. Ask God to tell you if you’re not sure. Now do a second thing, and this is really important. Don’t waste the time you’ve just freed up by filling it with another distraction. Go for a walk, visit a friend or spend some time with your partner. Spend that time investing in your future and maybe you will be a step closer to fulfilling your potential.