We love the start of a new month here at Good Word Project! That means we get to introduce you to a new word, which you’ll read about weekly, from four different writers over the next four weeks. The thing we love most about this is that we get to see how God speaks individually to each of us (and you too!) We never discuss what angle we could take on a word. We never worry about duplication. We don’t plan or strategize how we can each be unique. Instead, we devote time to prayer – to select our words and to let God guide us in how we bring life to that word. It’s been such a fulfilling journey, and if you haven’t been with us since this project launched in January 2018, we encourage you to look back at any word that draws you in. Almost 5,000 readers visit our blog, and we hope you’ll join them (and us!) as God reveals words that can bring more meaning to our lives. Be sure to subscribe for ease and convenience, if you haven’t already! Now…on to our new word…
This month, we’re excited to explore the word, INTENTIONAL. Personally, as a leadership and life coach, this word excites me with its potential for positive change! I’m always encouraged that God was intentional with each of us. It’s the reason why no two people are alike. He made each one of us very thoughtfully, totally uniquely and with a purpose that only we can fulfill, based on our time of life, people around us and equipping that He provided. So, there’s a reason for us to be intentional with our lives.
Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. ~Leo Buscaglia
Our Creator placed a specific calling and purpose on each of us. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). And, it’s worth noting, His plans for us are good – likely better than what we could ever conceive for ourselves. 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 (Jeremiah 29:11).
So, how you do you live a more intentional life?
Since motivating and encouraging are two of my callings, I’ll live intentionally by sharing with you three things to help you begin living more intentionally too! Let’s do this together, shall we?!
1. Seek God’s Will First
Consider the fact that God knows everything, spans all time from beginning to end, and is sovereign over all in every realm. That would make him a great leader to follow, don’t you think? He’s literally the perfect guide. His wisdom and power are utterly boundless.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
God’s plans for our lives will take into consideration every variable there is – because He knows them all. He knows where and how we will experience success. He knows how we will feel the most fulfillment and reward. He knows our strengths and weaknesses – He gave them to us, after all. His plans and will for our lives is perfectly coordinated with all of these considerations. When we go to Him for guidance, it’s as if we’re simply asking for the map to our best case scenario.
If we dedicate time each day to prayer and reading scripture, we will learn more about what God’s will looks like and how to hear Him speak into our lives. The more we know and understand Him, the more we understand His character and how He works. He wants us to be wise to what is good. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5). Also, don’t forget, if you ask God anything and are truly seeking His will, be sure to quiet yourself to listen. Be still, and be on the lookout for His response revealed through scripture, repeated by other believers, in “coincidences” and through unexpectedly open doors.
What if you gave God your first fifteen minutes each day? Would you be willing to try for the next four weeks, as we write about the word, intentional? I’d love to hear about your experience at the end of the month. (If you need Bible-reading or prayer recommendations/guidelines, leave a comment, and I’ll connect with you!)
2. Employ Self-Discipline
As with any new activity, it takes discipline to make it become a lasting habit. We are human, and we also have lots of distractions that will vie for our time. Start each day by setting your intention (re-read step 1 above), and make sure it happens by scheduling it on your calendar! Seriously. Set an alarm on your phone, schedule an appointment, or make it the first to-do on your list. That’s how you make sure it actually happens until it becomes your new norm. As well, give yourself tangible reminders or word cues that help you to remain intentional with following God’s will. As an example, use the new iPhone screen time limits to minimize your social media use, if it’s a major distraction. Give yourself a word of the day, week or month to help keep your focus on where God is leading you. Write encouraging scriptures or inspiring reminders on your bathroom mirror with washable markers. (Hint: November is a GREAT time to focus on gratitude and to be overcome with God’s goodness by journaling daily on the good things He gives. It could activate your desire to serve Him out of sheer joy and thankfulness!)
In addition, if you feel God calling you to use your talents in a particular area, be sure you are honing those skills to offer Him (and others) your best! Part of being intentional with your purpose is receiving what God gave you and working with it to excel in your craft and bring Him glory. Don’t feel pressured that you have to see your name in lights, though. You don’t need to be THE best, but it sure is God-honoring when you strive to be YOUR best. (Hint: Ask God, and He will help you with this too! His yoke is easy and burden is light AND He gives us power and self-discipline through the Holy Spirit!)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11).
3. Be Accountable
In the beginning of the Bible, moments after creating the very first human, God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. He created mankind with a need for companionship and community. Even better, He promises to be among any gathering of two or more in His name. We are strengthened when we invite others into our lives to help hold us to our intentions and purpose.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
This step requires humility by asking for help and admitting that you are prone to wander, but it’s exactly what will help you stay the course and flourish. Find two or three people (try different ages and stages of life) to share your calling and your desire to grow deeper in trust and relationship with Christ. Explain to them that you’re being intentional about following God’s will for your life, and ask them to hold you accountable. Give them permission to ask you regularly how it’s going. Communicate that it’s GOOD to call you out when you’re not following through. Ask them to encourage you to persevere when you feel lost or tired, and appreciate their guidance and re-direction when you need it. So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We need each other to stay the course!
For Him = For Our Good
An intentional life is a purposeful life, and when our purpose is to honor God and bring Him glory, He works everything – and I do mean everything – for our good. That, my friends, is the not-so-secret ingredient to our best life. When our lives are about Him, we can trust that even bad things will be redeemed and worked out in a way that we benefit.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Intentional lives are fulfilled lives; not because they are perfect or material or successful in the world’s eyes, but because they are lives marked by the fullness of joy that can only come from abiding with Christ. Without intention, we can’t abide. We can’t give God our best. We can’t resist the distractions, temptations and noise..and we can easily be pulled down into the mire. But, when we make a choice to be intentional – to actively choose God and His ways in our lives – we can rest. We can trust. We can abide, and we can hope. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5).
I hope you’ll meet God at the start of your day tomorrow…set your intention (and alarm) now! If I (or any of our GWP team) can help you on the journey, be sure to leave a comment!