You know that feeling don’t you?
You work through the morning and now it is time for lunch. You look back at the last few hours and really don’t feel very good about it. Why? You wasted too much time on things that just don’t matter. Maybe you spent too much time in useless pursuit of something on the Internet. Perhaps you spent too much time reading the sports. Too much time in a conversation that probably should have ended thirty minutes earlier. I’ve certainly done some of these and do not like the feeling afterward.
Yet, I think there is a way to spend each day enjoying life and being effective. I have listed a few practices that have been very important to me.
Here are a few:
1. Take time each day to nurture your center. For a Christian this means taking the time each day to read Scripture, pray, and think about the day and its meaning. Doing this is a reminder that a day is not just about getting things done, running errands, or moving through a to do list. Spending time each day nurturing your center can help put the day in a God-centered perspective.
Most mornings I wake up early enough to spend some time reading my Bible. Right now I am reading Genesis. I will typically read a couple of chapters with a yellow marker in my hand. In each chapter, paragraph, and verse, I am looking for what God is doing or saying. I will underline the phrases, lines, or words that are particularly meaningful to me.
There are other resources that I find helpful, including prayer books, books by particular authors, and the journals of others. (Right now I am looking at John Newton’s journal on my bookshelf.) I am also helped by writing in my journal about twice a week. I find myself writing things I did not know I was thinking.
2. Surround yourself with encouragers. I have always appreciated and been motivated by the encouragement of others. Life is hard. My work is sometimes difficult and even discouraging. Life is far too short for me to surround myself with discouragers, negative people, and those who drain the life out of me. Yes, I realize these people need love and ministry; however, I have to be careful. If I surround myself with too many of these people, my joy and passion can just go down the drain.
I have learned to really value the people in my life who encourage me. I can see the faces of some of them even now as I write these words. They are old and young. Some of them have been in the churches where I’ve served. A few of them are family. Some are longtime friends. Others are people I have never met but whose words through writing and speaking have encouraged me in some way. Still others have long since died and gone to be with the Lord but their encouraging words are alive in my heart and memory.
What about you? Can you name five or ten people who have been or who are your encouragers? They may encourage you through their words, their presence, or their example. Choose to spend time with these people.
3. Choose your attitude. This is probably one of the most important choices a human being can make. Does it ever make a difference!
I realize there are many things that happen in this life that you and I have no control over. Sickness. The economy. The behavior of other people. Through the power of God’s Spirit, however, I can choose my attitude.
For example, "What kind of attitude do I bring to the office each day?" I know that if I come to the office each day and gripe, complain, and constantly point out the negative, that this behavior impacts my co-workers. My attitude can dampen morale. On the other hand, I can choose to look for what is good, focus on what is right and encouraging, and be a pleasant person to be with. It is all about the attitude I choose.
I have found my attitude to be so important as I relate to my wife, Charlotte, to Christine and Jamie (my daughters), and my son-in-law, Phillip. My attitude powerfully impacts the atmosphere of our home.
More later. Right now I would enjoy knowing what you might add to this list. What has been important to you as you think about enjoying life, being effective, and moving on?
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