In his book, What’s Best Next, Matt Perman compares a nonchalant “go with the flow” approach to life to walking into a store with your eyes closed, buying whatever you touch, and expecting it to become a wardrobe. If we wouldn’t take that approach with clothes, why would we do that in business? To create a wardrobe, there are specific steps based on priorities, budget, availability and style. When pursuing professional or financial goals, we should apply at least that much intentionality.
Some people don’t like to live or work tied to lists and calendars. While we should not feel bound by a rigid plan, we can draw wise and practical guidance from a few biblical insights about living and working with more intentionality.
1. Keep elevating and looking for a higher vantage point.
Our chaotic culture and marketplace can easily distort our perspective. If we lose sight of the important things, it’s easy to get stuck just putting one foot in front of the other. To elevate is to rise–or lift yourself to a higher position. By observing our life or vocation from a different point of view we can gain a clearer picture of both. The New Living Translation of Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Elevating might look like this: Push “pause” and step away from all the noise. Get still and prayerfully meditate on one thought from Scripture like the one above. This is a good starting point for living and working with intentionality.
2. Keep honestly evaluating where you are.
Have you noticed that we give the best critiques of everyone but ourselves? Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.” How often do you stop to consider what direction your life or business is pointing and whether you are actively moving toward God or drifting away from him? When is the last time you assessed where your other relationships stand, both personally and professionally? These two exercises will help you identify legitimate strengths and weaknesses that are impacting everything you are doing now and might be directing you about what you need to do next.
3. Keep looking and planning ahead.
Living and working with intentionality includes prayerfully considering the future. Ephesians 5:15-17 is instructive: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Living in the present moment is important, but so is peering around the next corner of our lives. By God’s design, our part is to plan ahead to the best of our ability, knowing that “in their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
4. Keep preparing (daily) to adjust and be flexible.
Here is what we know. Even if we have a great plan, life (and business) “happens.” Between changing market conditions, economic realities, personal circumstances and yes, global pandemics, we will inevitably face unexpected or unwanted situations. 2020 was a challenging lesson in trusting God with the unknown while remaining confident that his greater purposes will prevail. Surprisingly, believers are called to joyfully embrace such moments (James 1:2-4). These tests are given to actually strengthen our faith and develop our steadfastness. Since we already know that life will sometimes throw us curve balls, let’s become more intentional about how we respond to these opportunities for spiritual growth.
5. Keep scheduling (two-minute) prayer walks into each day.
Jesus was the most intentional person to ever walk the face of the earth. He was laser-focused on his mission and on pleasing his heavenly Father every moment (John 4:34). Two thousand years later, he is still busy revealing himself to this generation through his Word, his Spirit and his people. Matthew 28:20 records his promise to remain with us “24/7” but we easily forget that in the midst of the daily grind. Try setting a reminder on your phone or watch each day to pause for a few brief prayer walks around your workplace. Simply ask God for his wisdom, guidance and perseverance before you return to your tasks with a new heart and mind.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, I am thankful that you are present and that you are guiding all of my life and my business dealings. I am trusting you to sharpen my senses and heighten my awareness that every word spoken, every number crunched, every email written and every plan made, offers amazing opportunities to bring glory to you. Thank you for your grace, which I treasure, and help me make the most of the remainder of this day. Amen.
“Show up in every single moment like you’re meant to be there.”