This is the fifth of seven in a countdown for 2015 commitments.
As followers of Christ, we promise ourselves to stop trying to be better and start being different.
The first four commitments are:
Commitment 7: Don’t get so easily Offended
Commitment 6: Don’t be so Offensive
Commitment 5: Get Equipped
Commitment 4: Get Accountable
Read the brief descriptions in the four posts below to review or catch up. Each commitment builds on the previous ones and is intended to help guide our choices as followers of Christ to be different.
The commitments become more personal as we head to number one. Here was a tough one for me:
Commitment 3: Get rid of Agendas
Sometimes having an agenda is important. We see them most often as political agendas (get elected, pass a bill, raise poll numbers); or, military agendas (take this hill, win this battle, clear this street); and even adolescent agendas (buy these shoes, get that smartphone, find a boyfriend). By definition, agendas are short term and self-centered. There is an ideological underlying motive that is unstated.
But when agendas become the driving force in a person’s life and work, it numbs the soul. People who have agendas are dedicated and very busy – but they have no idea how off-center their lives are. They hang around with people who think the same way and reinforce the ulterior beliefs that guide their lives.
Agendas are limited in in focus and duration. The big picture is out of the picture.
Even Christian agendas that focus on promoting a church, enforcing a theological system, or procuring power in an organization become an end in themselves. Many think that in all of their political machinations that they are serving Christ but many will find they have missed the most important truth of all: being known by our Lord (Matthew 7:21-23).
Replacing Agendas with Vision
The only way to get rid of agendas is to have a vision.
A vision is broad, long term and idealistic in a good way. From the biblical perspective, a vision is seeing what God desires you to become and then conforming your life every day to becoming what you envision.
Admittedly, God promises that one day we shall see Him as he is and be like him (1 John 3:1-3). In the meantime, he gives us a vision that is unreachable on this side of the resurrection: whoever claims to be a follower of Christ, “must walk as Jesus did’ (1 John 2:6).
Having a vision at the personal level is asking, “What kind of person do I want to become?” Next, be practical about what this person looks like. What does this person of your vision do and not do? Be specific. Here are some words to help you think through this:
Giving, pornography, prayer, attitude, eating, weight, books, servant, family, money, activity, entertainment, clothes, friends, study, alcohol, exercise, spiritual life.
Add other words pertinent to your life and experience. Mull over each word/idea and decide what your life should look like.
Then, ask a most important question: “What do I do today to move in the direction of that vision?”
The vision for the kind of person you want to become may never be reached completely in your lifetime, but the journey in that one direction yields incredible blessing. Each day is a step in becoming that person.
Remember: You will never become in the future what you are not becoming today.
If you are like me (and I know I am), you may struggle with wondering if your motives are right. One of my favorite teachers and friends once confessed to me that he didn’t think he had ever done anything with completely pure motives. “There is always a bit of self-service in everything I do,” he said. I was shocked since I considered him to be the closest person to perfect that I knew. I thought I was the only one who was so self-centered. But I realized that the nature of our sinfulness will always pollute even our greatest acts of service. Awareness that we will struggle with our motives is important. It’s when we don’t struggle with them that we should worry.
Here’s a question that helped me think through this challenge:
“What do you want people to be thinking after you spend time with them?”
“What an incredible guy. I want to be like him.”
“He really loves the Lord.”
“Boy, he really has his life together.”
“Man, he is smart. He really knows the Bible, etc.”
“He is one of the nicest people I have ever met.”
While these seem like encouraging responses, they are all about me and making me feel good.
A visionary response? What do I want people to be thinking after I spend time with them . . . ?
“God is an awesome God. I want to know Him more.”
NEXT: Commitment 2: Love. Serve. Pray. Repeat.