When you die, what about you do you want your spouse to remember most?
What deep impressions do you want to leave with your children?
When friends and fellow workers recall your name, what do want them to associate with it?
Finishing the Course
We will all leave a legacy of some sort. Either one full of love and power, or that is a burden, a bitterness, and a vapor.
Imagine your funeral. Picture the people there. What would each person say? Don’t we all long for their collective voices to say–along with our Heavenly Father: “Well done!” “Thank you!” “We love you.” “We miss you.”
In other words, in view of the brevity of life, our heart’s desire is that, like Paul, we “fight the good fight” and “finish the course” (2 Tim. 4:7).
Caught in the Drift
Wanting to end well is one thing, but actually doing it is another. As Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy say, our lives are easily drawn away from their true purpose and into “the drift”:
Many people get into their forties, fifties, and sixties, look around, and realize they have been pulled out to sea. Perhaps their health is failing, their marriage is broken, or their career is stalled. Maybe they have lost their spiritual connection, and life seems meaningless and unfulfilling. Whatever the case, they look up and find themselves far away from where they thought they would be at this point in their lives. They have become victims of the drift.
Saul, the first king of Israel, demonstrates what can happen in the drift. Though he held the honor of the kingship, he drifted away from his purpose, and his end was inglorious: death at the edge of his own sword, and then the Phillistines tore off his clothes and took his head as a trophy. In 1 Chronicles 10 we are told why Saul’s life ended in failure: “He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD.”
When we make our plans apart from God, we get caught in a drift that leads further and further away from the true purpose of our lives.
It’s easy to think that the solution to “the drift” chiefly concerns our beliefs or stated convictions. But knowing that a wasted life is tragic doesn’t automatically prevent us from wasting it. Why?
Because we have unrecognized assumptions.
What’s Driving Your Life?
Just underneath our conscious thoughts, we carry around core messages that drive our mindset and behavior, such as:
- “You have to please everyone if you want to be accepted.”
- “If you work hard enough, you’ll succeed.”
- “To be loved, you’ve got to stand out among the crowd.”
- “You’ll never make it, so why keep trying?”
King Saul fell because, instead of listening to God’s voice, he let other voices guide him. Even when God sent Samuel to speak sense into Saul, it was hard for him to take it in, because his heart was already given to other messages.
God has sent the Spirit into our hearts to guide us into the truth (John 16:13). When it comes to running the course of our life, God offers us his help.
But He doesn’t do it apart from our conscious, willing effort. Rather, by His Word and Spirit he rallies us to self-awareness and self-regulation:
- “Keep your heart with all diligence…” (Prov. 4:23a)
- “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep…” (Prov. 19:15a)
- “Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life; he who despises his ways will die.” (Prov. 19:16)
If we want to take back control of our life from the false messages that drive us, then we’ve got to get off automatic pilot and think about where we’re heading.
Writing a Life Plan
With these things in mind, several of us at The Journey have written a “life plan.”
According to Hyatt and Harkavy, a life plan is “a short written document, usually five to fifteen pages long” that does the following:
- “It describes how you want to be remembered.”
- “It articulates your personal priorities.”
- “It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life.”
- “It is most of all a living document you will tweak and adjust as necessary for the rest of your life.”
In these days leading up to the New Year, why not take some time to write a life plan? Give a gift to yourself (or your spouse) by blocking off a day just for this.
Shoulder to Shoulder,
The 3:14 Team