Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Eating the Elephant

Ahhh September. With the freshness of a new school-year comes crispy leaves, new soup recipes, and a torrential onslaught of new commitments and activities. I'm either going to drown or learn to surf! How do I determine the best use of my time? Balancing ministry and family can be such a tricky thing!

As I wrestle with my day-planner, struggling to find more hours in the week, I come across this verse:

But the Pharisees and experts in the law (read: Religious Professionals) rejected God's purpose for themselves....Luke 7:30 (parenthetical comment mine)

Which makes me ask, "Can I reject God's purposes?" After all, I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. But according to this verse, it seems that God, in his sovereignty, allows people to reject his purposes. Religious people rejected his purposes. In the words of the French, "Aie aie aie !"

I want to embrace God's purposes for my life with both arms wide and a big fat kiss. I fear that by not living attentively, I could inadvertently reject them, even as a missionary (read: Religious Professional). How can I be sure to follow the Lord's leading? 

So after a fervent prayer that goes something like this: "Oh dear God, please help me not to blow it!" I set out to make a plan.

Step One: Ask God to reveal my Front Burner Projects
These are the the things that he is bringing to the forefront of my life. The things that weigh heaviest on my heart, or the ministries for which I have the greatest vision, or the opportunities that are time-sensitive. 

Step Two: Ask God to reveal my Back Burner Projects
These are the things that are in my life, but are not at a critical junction. They may require an occasional "stir" or "sprinkle" but they are not top priority. They may be things that will eventually be top priority or that used to be top priority. 

Step Three: Ask God to reveal my Refrigerator Projects
These are things that I need to keep on my radar, things that I believe will one day be on the Front Burner, but things that are not yet critical. They are sometimes longer-term projects, sometimes seasonal projects. They may go in and out of the refrigerator depending on my availability and their urgency.

Once I have a bead on God's priorities for my life, I take it to the practical phase

Step Four:  Plan Action Steps
For each Front Burner and Back Burner Project, I assign weekly (or sometimes daily) tasks. If the tasks don't have natural due dates (like a conference), I assign arbitrary ones so that I have a goal to work towards (as I've done with some writing projects). 

Step Five: Evaluate the Plan
I estimate the number of hours per week dedicated to each task. I then add things that are an on-going, regular, essential part of my life, such as quiet times, exercise regime, dates with David, and housekeeping. Is it a balanced plan? Is it realistic? Is it God's purpose on paper?

Step Six: Seek Feedback
First, I ask David to look over my plan. He evaluates it based on everything he knows about me, us, our family, and God. I fine tune based on his feedback. Next I send the list to a ministry partner. My ministry partner also offers helpful feedback and valuable insights. I fine tune again.

Finally, its time to implement. But one step that is perhaps the most essential.

Step Seven: Hold the Plan in an Open Hand
Proverbs 16:The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. 
Jesus has dominion over my days, and he can change my plans as he sees fit. Some say, "Why bother planning?" but Seeing as Jesus lives in eternity and know the future, he is quite capable to lead me as I make plans. But he doesn't reveal everything. This way, I walk closely by his side, listening for daily direction.

The Open Hand is essential. The day, and I mean THE DAY I completed my plan and entered everything into my daily planner, two of my plans got changed. Discernment helps me to know when to hold to my plans and when to deviate--this is the daily, step by step leading of the Lord that keeps life exciting.

So, what's your plan?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I need to figure this one out.... My biggest challenge right now is figuring out a healthy rhythm of work/life/ministry/language learning/rest. Thanks for sharing. :)