Many times your day may be going well and you enjoy a beautiful sense of peace like “God is with me.” This, for me, would usually be a no-deadline, no-appointment day. But my biggest struggle is usually to battle distractions and get done what I have identified would qualify as a productive day. Our desire for this sense of “winning” and happiness is almost certainly a remnant of a culture of competition and the desire for objective success. But being a believer is not going to be a never ending series of championships. Being a believer means we trust in God for all time, what Kay Warren refers to in her book, Choose Joy, as choosing God’s eternal joy which is “deeper than [earthly] happiness.” At the same time, on other days we may feel overwhelmed and un-directed or mis-directed, likely due to a faulty focus on matters that we have allowed others to deem urgently important.
That’s when I have tried all sorts of things to expand my faith life beyond the usual daily/weekly spiritual practices like prayer and church. A few of these efforts include having devotional books on my desk and within reach at the office, or apps on my phone (ugh); reciting favorite scripture or the Lord’s Prayer or 23rd Psalm; or taking quick walks to clear my head, and more. Some of these tricks-of-the-trade work really well, yet we must continue to adapt and add to our tool kit to grow spiritually and overcome constantly changing circumstances. For instance, I’ve been working with a wonderful, comprehensive daily prayer by Max Lucado (Each Day) that may be a bit long for everyday use, but I think it’s great and it can inspire us to write our own personal redirection prayers. Check it out.
Another one of my favorite recent discoveries on social media is Jonathan Milligan (@JonMilligan on Twitter). Jonathan is a Christian, father, husband, blogger, and a guy many might classify as a productivity guru. I am presently in the middle of Jonathan’s free 30 Day Get Productive Challenge and I would recommend it to anyone from the most guru-ed of the gurus who just want to “sharpen your saw,” to the neophyte aspiring guru. He does a good job of re-stating what many people have said many times about direction, intentions, and motivation, and how these concepts impact the choices we make in our lives. Jonathan engages the law of the universe that many of us are familiar with: that the road to hell was paved with good intentions. We all know we can stay Zig Ziglar “busy busy busy” chasing our well-founded intentions on a road to, well, the end of a busy day. But with respect to intentions, he suggests we choose one or more of the following: (i) good intentions; (ii) bad intentions; (iii) no intentions; or (iv) directed intentions.
Before anyone thinks that this productivity business is another secular distraction, recall that there are 24 hours in a day (even for monks) for us to choose how to serve God with our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, witness.” That means we have to be mindful our intentions and our choices. It means that we have to be mindful of our thoughts. Yes, thoughts, because sometimes the first way to start serving is to direct how we think – simply by thinking about a neighbor in need of prayer while on a morning walk can sometimes be the best use of that “unforgiving minute” in your life. Thoughts are the core of what we have to offer.
In closing, it is undisputed that, unless you are a monk, we will all have times when external distractions give need to remind ourselves of what we value, who and whose we are, and why we value what we value and why it is personal to us. To that end, we all want to grow spiritually. In the words of Casting Crowns, we don’t want to be tossed about like a wave in the ocean, fade like a blooming flower, or dissipate like a vapor in the wind.
So, I’ll challenge you to take a look at and dwell on one of Jon Milligan’s premises: consistency breeds momentum. Through each occurrence of living a life of faith, we get stronger, we hone our skills via increasing our knowledge (of scriptures) and experience, and we have even more and greater reasons to stay motivated daily, as Zig recommends. To add to our respective spiritual toolkits, and to stay consistently salty my friends, I suggest you join me in working/revising your own personal redirection prayer (which may or may not be shorter than Max’s)!
— Wes Few