What is your greatest fear? Many people say that it’s getting to the end of their life without having made a significant difference. For most of us, the regular duties of life get in our way and before you know it, you’re 50 years old wondering where the time went.
But Christians have an advantage. God has given us certain “spiritual gifts” to help us accomplish the mission He has for us. That’s right…God has a plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
We need to find out what God has gifted us to do and do it with all our heart (Colossians 3:23-24…”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”). To do this daunting adventure, we need to divide it up into smaller units that we can measure.
First off would be to determine what your spiritual gift(s) is/are. There are some online surveys you can take that give you some idea of what your gift(s) is/are. They are at…
When I came down with throat cancer, God told me that He was going to heal me. I thought it was just me wanting to believe that I’d be healed. It took some convincing on God’s part but I finally believed Him. I was almost 65 years old. If God’s going to heal me at this age, He must still have things for me to do. After earnestly seeking Him, He spoke to me in these areas:
1) my personal life – what do I do when I’m not working? What do I spend my time on? Am I seeing friends on a regular basis? Am I spending quality time with my spouse? Maybe take her/him out on a date night.
2) my spiritual life – do I read/study the bible? Do I pray? Am I involved in a local bible-believing church? A consistent reading of the bible should only take maybe 15 minutes a day. Prayer could be done thru-out the day or in the evening with your spouse. Joining your church’s small home group takes one evening a week or one evening every two weeks. Reading good Christian non-fiction books is also good to do. It’s a way to gain a lot of information and guidance from other bible teachers.
3) my hobbies – most psychologists will tell you that having a hobby is good for your mental state of mind as long as it isn’t obsessive. What is your hobby? Is it traveling or reading or sewing or working around the house? Is it watching certain TV programs (be careful because TV watching can become obsessive).
4) my house life – God has provided you with a house. What a blessing! Are we using it for God’s glory? Do you have small group meetings in it? Do we have people over for an evening? My wife and I are empty-nesters, so we have bedrooms available for visiting missionaries, etc. Maybe you could have a youth group activity at your house.
5) my spiritual gifts – do you know what your spiritual gift(s) is/are? Are you using them? If not, why not? The church is a great place but not the only place to use your spiritual gifts. One guy who loved working on cars, had the church sponsor a Saturday when single moms would bring their cars to the church parking lot and he and a few other men would change their oil for free. They had the gift of service (Romans 12:7…” If your gift is serving others, serve them well…”). My spiritual gift is teaching, so I teach adult bible classes at our church.
6) my parent/grandparent life – how are you parenting or grandparenting your family members for the Lord. What are you doing with the people that God has put in your sphere of influence? Parenting is a full-time job but why not take one evening every week or every two weeks and have a family night. Play a board game, go to a park or play frisbee with your kids. If you’re a grandparent, give your adult kids a break and take the grandchildren for a day or evening every week or every other week. Take them on a picnic or to a museum or play a board game with them. Anything that engenders a conversation and builds memories.
Learn to pray with them on a consistent basis. Feel free to talk to them about God, Jesus, or whatever is happening in the culture. Just be sure to not harshly judge their opinions. If they’re younger, read bible stories to them. If they’re older and you can afford it, take them to the Creation Museum and/or the Ark Encounter for a few days.
7) – for people who are still working (I’m retired), your work-life – are you honoring God by being a good worker? Does your boss know why you’re a good worker? See Colossians 3:23-24 above.
8) – my financial life. Yes, this involves budgeting. Like it or not, you’ve got to budget if you’re going to plan things like vacations, travel, college for the children, retirement, etc. Any book by Dave Ramsey would be very helpful. Or just comparing your expenses to your income. For one month, track your spending. Don’t forget to include in there things like house insurance, car insurance, property taxes, Christmas gifts, etc. If you pay them once a year, just divide the total you pay by 12 and you’ll have a monthly amount. Being faithful in your finances is one of the hardest things to bring under control but it is absolutely necessary if you’re going to be faithful in what the Lord has given you.
How do you put all this into action?
Start by writing down things that God wants you to work on. Then, don’t do anything different for 1-2 weeks but write down everything you do with your time. You might be amazed how much of your time is spent on things that don’t contribute to your stated goals.
I would suggest starting with establishing a consistent bible reading & prayer time. Start out with 10-15 minutes a day. Once you’ve established that consistently, then you can go longer if you wish. The other areas require planning but still don’t take a lot of time.
All of these things are measurable quantities. You should be able to look back over the past month and see what you did accomplish. Don’t be surprised if it all doesn’t work out perfectly. If half of it works, you’re doing good. Also, don’t be surprised if God tweaks your plans. Stay flexible enough for that to happen.
So, at the end of every month, you can look back and see what you’ve done. Then you can make any adjustments in the coming month. If you do this long enough, you’ll be amazed at the results. Eventually, you’ll be able to make longer-term plans. Instead of just one year out, you may be planning several years out, realizing what Proverbs 16:9 says “In their hearts, humans plan their course but the Lord establishes their steps”. But at the same time, remember the old saying that says if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.
Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Here are some scriptures to meditate on regarding planning:
Ephesians 5:15-17 “Be very careful then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds…”
Psalms 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 20:4 “May He grant you your hearts desire and fulfill all of your plans.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not be weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
James 4:13-15 “Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow….Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” This does NOT say that you shouldn’t plan anything. It does say to be flexible so God can work.
There’s an old saying that says, “God can’t steer a parked car.” Well, yes He can but I hope you get the point of the saying. An old Christian comedian said that he wants to be doing something when Jesus returns, even if it’s making mistakes.
Then at the end of your life, God will be able to say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21).
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on bsssb-llc