Making Your Life Count
As we continue to adjust our lives and schedules to include the significant impact that our granddaughter Hazel’s leukemia is having on our world, it gives me a time to reflect on what is really important in life. That is why this Wisdom Note is titled “Living a Life of Significance.”
I believe all of us want to live a life of significance, knowing that we are making a positive impact on others and the world. The problem is that life for most of us is very hectic, and we have competing demands for our time, energy, and resources. Some days it is hard to keep our heads above water, and we constantly feel like we are being sucked into the whirlpool of life’s activities.
For these reasons, it is so important to live life intentionally and purposefully. Before Hazel’s leukemia diagnosis, I thought my schedule was jam packed, and that I could not add anything to it…and yet with this significant disruption in our lives, we are forced to choose what is most important, and realize that we have to let other things be dropped or delayed to a different season of life. It is with joy in our hearts that we accommodate these changes.
So how do can you live a life of significance?
If we are going to make this shift, we need to have an intentional mind shift from a life of activity to a life of purpose. Begin living a more simplistic life, one where you take the time to stop and smell the roses along the trek of life and enjoy each day’s journey.
Living a simple life certainly requires intentionality. In a world that is hectic, busy, and hurried, simplicity is not. In a culture that encourages selfishness and excess, minimalism does not. And in a society that is rushing to gain more, satisfaction with less is counter-cultural.
To live an intentional life, we must begin by laying a proper foundation and then add practical steps on each day’s trek on top of it.
First, find a solid path for life.
- Realize that your life is made up of choices. Every morning is a new day full of decisions and opportunities. You get to pick your attitude and your decisions. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. You have a choice in the matter. You do not need to be stuck in the same pattern of living that you have been for years. Realize that every morning is a new opportunity. Thinking of this brings to my mind the Bible verses in Lamentations that we can rest in. Chapter 3 verses 22 and 23 read,
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
- Evaluate the path you are taking and the tribe of people that you are trekking with. Life is not lived in a vacuum. You are on a certain path and live surrounded by a tribe with its own culture that is moving somewhere. This tribe and its culture form a steep downhill slope. Living an intentional life will require you to take a step off of the trail and evaluate the path you are on to determine where it is heading, how it is affecting you, and if it is taking you in a direction you desire. We can get guidance to make these decisions as we read in Psalm 32:8 the Lord says,
“I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.”
- Examine yourself. Know who you are. Get a strong handle on your passions, talents, abilities, and weaknesses. Focus your time and energy on this endeavor. It is one of the most valuable things you can do. God has given all of us abundant abilities and we should use those skills, just as the Prophet Daniel did as mentioned in Chapter 6:3,
“Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.”
Second, add practical steps.
- Decide to live your life. Stop comparing yourself to others. You were not born to live their lives. There is no sense wasting your life being jealous of someone else. Instead, you were born to live your life. Determine today to be good at it. After all, you only get one shot. As Proverbs 14:30 puts it,
“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
- Define a purpose. Identify what you want your life to communicate and what impact you desire to make on your world. Find a passion to live for that is bigger than yourself. Write it down. It will bring new meaning to your life. It will wake you from the slow death of only living for yourself. Matthew put it this way when he spoke of Christ in Chapter 20:28,
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Set goals. Goals move us, and goals shape us. Set goals that are directly in line with your defined purpose. Goals do not need to be grand they just need to fit your season of life. By their very nature, they will introduce intentionality into your life. In Paul’s 1st letter to the church in Thessalonica 4:11 he stated,
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”
- Stay focused. We live in a world of constant connectivity and distraction that is begging for our attention nearly every moment of the day. On this trek of life, learn to take the paths less traveled. Turn off the distraction and live your life instead. Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures that everyday life can bring you, if you are still enough to see them. Travel light when you can and remove nonessential physical belongings that are robbing you of time and energy that could be better spent living intentionally. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
- Learn from others. Successful people are curious people. They possess the humility to learn from others. Identify people accomplishing their purposes and goals. Then, study them and learn from them. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his 2nd letter to his protégé Timothy in Chapter 1 verse 13,
“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.”
The worst thing you could ever waste is your life. We all bring value to our world and indeed the entire world. Instead, commit yourself to living intentionally and on purpose. It is then we can say that we are living a life of significance. Living a life of significance draws us closer to God and help to conform each of us as His image bearers.
Hazel is responding well to her treatments, and the doctors are encouraged with her progress. The chemo and steroid treatments are starting to take their expected toll on her little body. She has swollen up significantly and is losing her trademark red hair. We realize that these results are temporary, but it is difficult to watch Hazel suffering. Through it all she has times where she is happy and smiling. I would appreciate continued prayers for Hazel and her family.