Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Living Intentionally

Over the last year or so, the Lord has been speaking a phrase to me over and over... live intentionally.  The whispered phrase has been like a gentle nudge on some days and a swift kick in the pants on others.  

Checking my trusty Webster's dictionary, I found that intention is defined as a determination to act in a certain way or doing something on purpose.   We often hear the phrase 'having good intentions' used in a context where the person doesn't actually follow through on their intention.  This understanding is unfortunate and so contrary to the definition.  A person with intention is determined and purposeful.

There are lots of areas of our lives where intention needs to be applied, but in this blog I want to talk about being intentional in your dreams. When it came to my own dreams or desires, I tended to procrastinate and put them on the shelf called 'Some Day'. On other occasions, I let the overwhelming nature of the dream or desire keep me from starting at all.

So, I've been opening the package of this phrase live intentionally for about a year and have learned some valuable lessons in the process.   I've learned that many have dreams, but few are living on purpose enough to actually see their dreams come to life.  I've also learned that dreams and desires may seem to float around somewhere in the creative realm, but the accomplishing of dreams is very practical.  Below are some of the practical things I've learned on this journey so far:

First, spending time in honest prayer and reflection is an essential first step in the process of realizing dreams. Sometimes our dreams are brewing beneath the surface, and He can help you define them in contemplative times.   Many of our dreams have a season and a time of release.  Only God can open the doors and release us into our giftings and dreams, but there is a preparation and cooperation part that we must play as well.  I don't want to go the route of self-promotion or presumption, but I also don't want to wake up one day to realize that I missed the opportunities and doors that He was opening for me.  Following your dreams requires relationship with the Giver of Dreams.  Follow the favor that He gives to you.

Second,  are there difficult areas of your life that need some purposeful action applied to them?   Make a list of those areas.   Realize that not taking care of unpleasant things only makes the 'unpleasantness' increase. These things tend to loom over us creating a sense of dread that impedes creativity and joy.  Many times I found that tackling the difficult thing was my chief obstacle, and once this giant was slain, other things began to easily fall into place. Get honest about how and why you are avoiding taking care of things.  For me, there was usually a lie that I was believing.  

Third, facing your dream head on,  make a list (I love lists!) of steps you feel it will take to accomplish your dream.   Then take one area and break that down into further steps if necessary.  Pray again, asking what things you should focus on right now.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Do what is in front of you and do it well, remembering that stewarding well what you have been given is a kingdom principle that leads to increase. If possible, develop some type of goal setting and accountability for your process.  I spent some time with a personal coach this year and it was great for helping me become more focused on what was really important.  Set dates that you want to have certain things finished.  Hopefully your accountability person will hold your feet to the fire and ask if you followed through on what you intended.

And last, but not least, HAVE FUN!   Accomplishing your dreams may be hard work sometimes, but a good portion of the time it should be fun.  If it is not fun, then maybe you should find another dream.  When we spend time doing what we've been created to do, it should be fulfilling, energizing and even exhilarating. Sure, there are some difficulties to overcome, but the overarching feeling generated from your dream should be one of deep satisfaction and fulfillment.

Living intentionally towards your dreams is taking personal responsibility to do everything you can to steward the gifts and potential He has placed within you.  It is a delightful cooperative process with the Holy Spirit and a journey of unfolding greatness.   Yes, He has placed greatness within you, and it's time to be intentional and live out your dreams on purpose.

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