Ask most people how they are doing today and you’ll likely hear “Busy, really busy”. It’s almost a “badge of honor” these days to say that you are busy. And I don’t doubt for a minute that you are. Think of how much of each day is already committed (work, sleep, chores, errands, meals, etc.) and you realize that you don’t really have a lot of spare time. You’re probably doing the best you can. You may feel that you are chasing your tail, putting out fires all day, and it’s all you can do to keep your head above water. And don’t even get me started on the impact of technology, which was supposed to make our lives easier, but now we are constantly “connected” with our smart phones buzzing and beeping, calling us to check our social media feeds dozens (or more) times each day.
Understanding this, you might find that it is hard to live a life for Christ. How can you move from a scattered life to an integrated one? In other words, how can you intentionally live a life that matters, one that has purpose?
Certainly, establishing boundaries will be helpful. Even something good, like serving at church, can be looked at as a burden if you already have a full and hectic schedule. It’s easy to become resentful when you find yourself overcommitted and exhausted. Good time (and energy!) management is also helpful, but more people talk about time management and the need for it than really know how to put it into practice.
But living an intentional life, even when very busy, can be done. A few years back at a church men’s event about integrating our faith and work, I remember asking a local senior corporate executive, who was also the local Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teaching leader to walk us through his day. I was amazed at how he efficiently organized his day to include family time, time for exercise, his responsibilities as a leader in the workplace and his BSF responsibilities. This certainly takes a lot of discipline, but it can be done.
Focusing on just a few key areas of your life may be helpful to live an intentional life of purpose. Here are 5 areas of your life that I would suggest focusing on:
Your Spiritual Life. Here, I would recommend getting plugged into a good church, if you are not already. Make daily Bible reading and prayer a priority, but don’t look at it as a burden. Reading the Bible should be a thing of joy, something that you look forward to. I read my Bible and my devotional reading while on the exercise bike each day. Perhaps for you, listening to an audio Bible while commuting to and from work, or exercising would work best. You can pray anywhere and at anytime (in the car, taking a walk, etc.).
Relationships. An aspect of living a life of purpose is having good, healthy relationships – with family, friends, at church, work, etc. However, with your busy schedule, you may need to set boundaries, at least for a season, and limit the number of your really close relationships. I realize that this can be hard, especially for those of us who are people pleasers.
Physical health. In order to live a life of purpose you will want to be in the best shape physically as possible. This would include eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly. You could combine working on your relationships with your exercise by working out with a friend, or taking a walk with your spouse.
Intellectual growth. I love to read, and regularly read a number of different genres. Reading is a great way to grow intellectually, but not everyone likes to read. There are many ways to grow intellectually. For example, you may be more interested in learning by watching documentaries or taking classes. As believers, we need to continue to grow. Scott Sauls, in his book Irresistible Faith, writes “While Jesus invites us to come as we are, he does not want us to stay as we are.”
Work. A final area in which we can focus on to live a life of purpose is our work, vocation or calling. In their book The Gospel at Work, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert write “Our jobs are one of the primary ways God intends to make us more like Jesus. He uses our work to sanctify us, develop our Christian character, and teach us to love him more and serve him better until we join him on the last day in resting from our labors.” My favorite verse from scripture about work is Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”. We do our work for the Lord, and by wanting to do our best, we may tend to work too many hours, and that makes our overall life that much busier and hectic. Traeger and Gilbert caution us not to make an idol out of our jobs. Do your best, but set boundaries on the number of hours (and days) you will work each week.
These were just 5 areas you could focus on to begin living a life of purpose. What other areas would you suggest?