In the last article, What Intentional Living Means & Why It Matters, I shared about a decision each of us can make: the decision and commitment to pursue an intentional life. But like anything we decide to pursue, we need a process for where and how to begin. This article will provide the middle ground between the decision and the execution. Before good execution comes good understanding and structure.
You might be in the exact spot I was a few years back when I desperately wanted to make some serious changes in my life: I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to live more effectively and productively but I struggled with where to begin or how to get traction.
That’s when I began a whole new experiment – I took some massive steps back and began thinking through my life on a whole new level. I had to zoom out big time and think about more than just being effective and productive that day or that week. More than just being effective or productive in my career or ministry. But I had to begin thinking about how I would be eternally effective and productive in everything I did in every sphere in life.
What is effectiveness and productiveness from Jesus perspective and how would that change the way I thought about my life as a whole: my eternal future, my purpose, and vision, my core values and priorities, my legacy? What would matter on my deathbed? As Stephen Covey wrote, “No one on their deathbed ever wishes they had spent more time at the office.” Was I gearing my life ambitions and aims toward that reality?
Covey’s quote captures this idea that there’s more to think about then our careers, our ministries, or our outward success. The only way to begin thinking about the “more” is to zoom out to the 30,000-foot view of your life and that’s what I call a life framework. This is where we will begin our process of “actioning” our decision to live more intentionally: to live like Jesus by taking deliberate aim and action toward what matters most.
Here’s how to begin taking steps toward living more intentionally:
- Framework: Understand the context of your life and let it shape the bedrock of your “why” (purpose)
- Purpose: Get clarity on your purpose
- Belief: Define your Core Beliefs and Values
- Habits: Structure and Build your Habits and Routines around your core beliefs
Note: I’ll cover points 3-4 in the next article.
A framework for life is a set of beliefs that provides a structure to categorize and explain the world around us and our place in it.
Creating a framework for understanding your life is about creating a context for as many things in your life as possible. Think of it this way: solid understanding comes from context, good organization means a place for everything, good theory produces good practice, and so on, and the same is true of our lives.
When we establish a framework for our lives, this allows us to give every action, every activity, every waking minute a place of understanding and context – a reason for why we are participating or involving ourselves in that thing.
A framework for life is the essential foundation and supporting structure that helps define what true success is and determines what really matters when the fog and distraction of daily life sets in.
This includes things like your theology, your identity, your purpose, your vision, your missions and objectives, your dreams and ambitions, and your roles and responsibilities. You’re exploring questions like, “Who am I and what is my purpose?” “What do I believe is important and not important to be spending my life doing?” “What is my ideal future state, not only in 30 years but when I die and meet Jesus face-to-face?”
These are big questions and topics, ones that you aren’t going to answer right away. Even so, don’t let that stop you from starting to think more intentionally and purposefully about them in the context of your life and what Jesus is calling you to do.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t going to be able to understand everything, but even that has a category. A category of “Things I don’t understand but totally trust God in.” When we get clear on understanding our lives as much as possible from Jesus’ perspective, then we can begin living according to that framework of understanding.
Having a framework is important because all strong structures must be set on strong foundations. The lower we dig down and establish the bedrock of our life aim and ambition the higher we will be able to build the structure. When our life aim and ambition is Jesus-centric then we can have no stronger foundation and are eternally secure in our time and energy investment (2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 25:14-30).
2 Things to Note about Framework Building
1. Start with the inner life first.
I mention this because we tend to disconnect the inner life of a person – the soul and spirit – from the success of that person. We tend to believe it is a person’s external activity and success that makes them live an effective, meaningful, and fulfilled life, but the reality is, it’s a person’s quiet cultivation of their inner life that produces and sustains true success and joy.
2. Remember, this is a process.
You aren’t going to make up a perfect or complete framework of life overnight, it will be refined as God works in your life and you grow in understanding of what matters to Jesus through time and experience.
Next week I’ll give you 3 strategic exercises to help you take your first actions toward building a basic framework for life.
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