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Strategize.


It's sounds like the language of Bus Ed 201, strategize. And, yes, there is a corporate, academic dimension to the concept of living strategically. Today, it's more than MBA rhetoric, however. Strategic living is in the psychology curriculum, personal self-defense and safety instruction, future farmers and homemakers education, family planning, and congregational dynamics, to name a few. It's one of the whims of the information age, the necessity of being strategic in pursuing life goals and objectives. Of a truth, it is some-thing of an impossible dream for most humans. The complexity and velocity of these exponential times translates to life by the seat of the pants for most of us. Strategy often gets lost in the blur. You know the deal. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21, ESV).

That, of course, is one of the hair balls most of us choke down every day. Strategy isn't planning, though it predominates popular thought. How many of us get mired in the messy clay of strategic planning? No, strategy, at the root, is purpose. Strategic living is a life of purpose. And, for believers, it is the seconding of personal goals, objectives, and ambitions to pursue the purpose of God. So, strategizing equates to mission pursuit. That involves knowing our mission and purpose in life, and selecting the correct components of exponential times in that process.

The information age insures dozens, if not hundreds, of possibilities to make strategic living possible for these vessels of clay. Our operating systems can easily become slow and cumbersome in the pace and motion of life. Being purposeful and intent about them can greatly reduce the possibility of a systems crash. This is the essential point of strategizing. It is being strategic about our involvements and commitments, meaning that we should be very resolute in our actions. Our purpose should qualify and comprise the final decisions about which ones will claim our resources.

Purpose is a profound biblical concept, referenced many times in Scripture. One verse is enough for me. Solomon wrote, "The Lord has made everything for its purpose" (Proverbs 16:4, ESV). We humans are created to glorify God and reflect his image. Still, there is clear individual purpose in every one of us. To strategize your life involves living this purpose. For me, my calling, mission, and purpose are the guardrails that keep me moving in the right direction and from being detoured by so many other involvements. So, how do I know my purpose?

1. Discover and understand personal strengths and spiritual gifts.

There are numerous personal inventories, surveys, and instruments designed to guide this discovery process. My preferred personal strength measurement is through the Clifton StrengthFinder developed by the Gallup organization (StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, Gallup Press, 2007). For spiritual gifts I usually recommend the LifeWay Christian Resources inventory. You can reference the entire LifeWay system by clicking here. Both are excellent materials in discovering how you are wired for life and mission.

2. Grasp the significance of personal awareness.

There are evidences of our life purpose in our own personal makeup. Being aware of our passions, areas of fast-learning, processes that are more difficult for us, activities and commitments that bring us greater satisfaction, and those life elements where our fit is more natural are significant components. There are standard guides that are useful when determining these factors. Google "self awareness" for a listing of these aides.

3. Seek and pay attention to the counsel of trusted family and friends.

People who know us well can are a great source of input about our life mission and purpose. I remember people affirming my teaching and speaking abilities long before I clearly heard and responded to God's call to ministry. The opinions and thoughts of Godly people were a consistent indication that my purpose in life was Christian mission oriented, pastoral in nature.

4. Listen prayerfully and carefully to the direction God gives.

There's this life event we usually refer to as "calling". Honestly, for me, it wasn't a burning bush or light on a mountaintop. It was that "still small voice" referenced in the call of Elijah that clarified my personal purpose in life.

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the

Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks

in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an

earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire,

but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was,

when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in

the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19: 11-13, NKJV

Strategizing life simply means living with purpose. Solomon wrote, "The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out" (Proverbs 20:5, ESV). Being a person of understanding, which, I think, ought to be a goal marker for every human, should create in each of us the desire to know our purpose and live it.

And, living with purpose will give us great guidance in navigating these exponential lives. Remember: update, simplify, and strategize to crash proof your life.

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