The Value of a Checklist
If we decided to set out on a long and difficult trek such as hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, which runs from Katahdin Maine down to Springer Mountain in Georgia, one of the first items that would be required is a complete checklist. What would be on our checklist? While I have never hiked anywhere close to that long or difficult of a trail, I have read several articles and watched documentaries from those who have hiked all or part of it. The checklist is extensive, and if you are not prepared, the hike can be very dangerous.
Completing the entire 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail in one trip is a mammoth undertaking, which can take five months or more. It requires great determination and commitment, but can potentially be accomplished by anyone with the ability to walk. That’s not to say hiking it is easy. The footpath of the Appalachian Trail is far more rugged than most anticipate, given the soft and gentle profiles of the mountains and relatively low elevations.
Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike, but only about one in four makes it all the way. Who knows, I may attempt a thru-hike at some point.
As it is with our trek of life, first we need to have a good understanding of where we are heading and why. We then need to have a plan on how we are going to travel towards our destination. In the Wisdom Note I recently posted, I referred to the importance and differences between the compass and the clock. Both are a crucial part in navigation on a long trek.
Each of us should have a set of guidelines or a code that we live by. This will establish our baseline for the decisions that we need to make each day. While we may not see a lot of progress made on certain days, it does not take too long to realize that the days string together quickly. If we don’t have a set of guidelines, or as it were, a checklist, then we will stumble blindly on, never ending up where we desire to be.
You may establish your guidelines or checklist on a different moral code than I do, but we all have a compass that gives us direction. If your compass is not functioning and not pointing to your true north, then it will show up in a lack of integrity and commitment.
My personal moral compass is the Bible, which I consider to be God’s Word. It has been my guide throughout life. Just as in hiking, there is a checklist for every leg of the hike. I consider God’s Word to be a complete checklist for my life. I am not referring to a legalistic rigid set of “rules” that I must follow, but through the spirit of living in such a way that my manner of life and integrity stands true in all areas of life.
The most famous checklist of all time and the basis for most civilized governments is referred to as the 10 Commandments. It sets the moral standard for how we should conduct ourselves in every situation. My paraphrased version of Exodus 20:1-17 is:
- There is only one God – and He comes first.
- Worship only God.
- Don’t misuse God’s name.
- Set aside one day a week for rest – it is holy.
- Honor your parents = long life.
- Don’t murder.
- Don’t cheat on your spouse.
- Don’t steal.
- Don’t lie about your neighbors.
- Don’t desire what is not yours to have.
All of the laws that were set up in the Old Testament of the Bible were to show how far short we fall from being God ourselves. It is not possible for us to achieve that standard. Fortunately, we do not have a long checklist that we need to follow for each day of our lives. In fact, it is quite short, and yet covers all that we need. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus put it this way, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
In other words, the Bible can be summed up in these two commands. Love God, love others…nothing more, nothing less.
What is your checklist for life? Can you articulate it, and do you follow it each day? Let us make sure that our moral compass points to true north, that our destination is known, and that each day of our trek of life is lived with integrity. This will ensure a sure footing regardless of how rough the terrain may be.
For my checklist, click here: Checklist for a Successful Life.