How do I become who I want to be?

Are you a person who journals?

Let me answer my own question.  For the first 42+ years of my life I was not that person at all.  My wife – she journals – not consistently but when she does, she really seems to get a lot our of it.  I know others who journal daily and they have always seemed to get so much out of it.  I have tried it on a few occasions but would write one entry and that would be it.  I just did not like it nor did I see the benefits in doing it.  That was until literally 30 days ago.

What happened 30 days ago, you ask.  Well you see 30 days ago I read a chapter from the book Building below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald.  There is a section in the book that is called What I want to be when I grow up.  In this section MacDonald talks about when he asked himself  the question, What kind of man do I want to be?  His response was that he wanted to be a man of growth and grace.  Now understand that he asked himself this question during his mid-life. 

He also wrestled with the question of What kind of old man do I want to be?  He says the most interesting thing about this:

If you don’t plan for the kind of man (or woman) you want to be at eighty (God willing) and begin building it when you are forty or fifty, it’s not likely to happen.

He write that this is thought then drove him to write a personal mission.  His personal mission is what helps him to live by initiation and not reaction.  I know that I want to live that way  – by initiation and not reaction.  Then he writes about how  he wrote about how he has his personal mission statement on the second  page of his journal and he reads it everyday.  He says he reads it everyday because it describes what he wants to be everyday.

He also has sub-missions or areas that he wants and needs discipline in and these areas are: Physical, Relational, Intellectual,Financial, vocational. Spiritual, and Recreational.  He has these areas because he thinks God wants him to do something in them and they also represent dreams in specific areas.  He has fine tuned these sub-mission over the years and leaves them open ended.  He does this so that he always has the ability to move forward in these areas.

When I read it all this it had me really desiring to work on areas of my life and  grow.  Then I read what he wrote about journaling and I found what he wrote here to really got me thinking about how it has helped him for over 40 years. It really made an impact on me and because of this  I then was moved to do it by God to journal and this time I had a plan on how to do it. 

My plan that I am following is that I am using an online journal ( Evernote.com).  I try to do the journal each morning as part of my morning devotions.  Part of the plan in this is to incorporate the journaling into several areas of my life to help me see growth. So in order to help me see growth I have four areas that I write in my journal each day and they are:

  1. Bible Reading – I put down the chapter I read and then write notes, thoughts, and favorite verses.  I also add in prayers from what I read as well.
  2. Prayer and Life List – I have a prayer list I go over and it also has my mission statement on it.  It has areas I want to grow in and areas I want to stop doing (A Stop doing list).  I write out a lot of personal prayers here after I read and pray through the list.
  3. What I am learning / what God is teaching me – pretty much I talk about life and what I am learning in various areas and also areas that I question what is happening.  This is where I write out about interactions with people or situations in life. 
  4. Things to do today – I list our all I want to accomplish each day.
  5.  

    I have found that journaling like this almost serves as an accountability partner for me and it really keeps me on track.   I can honestly say that  I have found this to be invaluable over the past 30 days now and it is something that I cannot now imagine not doing.  Doing this has helped me be more consistent in my devotional time with Christ.  I look forward to it most days and the days I do not are the ones where I have been really living in the flesh and I do not want to face it.  Let me say that this has honestly revolutionized my whole morning time with Christ.  It is helping me to become the husband, father, friend, and Pastor that I need to be.

    If you do not journal – try it for seven days.  If it does not work – stop but if it does – keep on going!

So let me ask you if you journal?  If you do, how long have you done it and how do you do it?  If you do not – what keeps you from doing it?

This post is a part of the blogging on  the book Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald with two of the best bloggers out there – Bill Grandi from  Cycleguy’s Spin and Michael Perkins from The Handwritten .  We are sharing each Wednesday our thoughts from 2 chapters,  which means you will be able to see how God will l speak to us as individuals and then you if you read all three blogs you will see how God then weaves what we write all together.  I pray your are encouraged by the blogs.

Building Below the Waterline…A Spiritual Center?

I am blessed to be sharing about the book Building Below the Waterline by Gordon MacDonald with two of the best bloggers out there – Bill Grandi from  Cycleguy’s Spin and Michael Perkins from The Handwritten .  We will be sharing each Wednesday our thoughts from 2 chapters,  which means you will be able to see how God will l speak to us as individuals and then you if you read all three blogs you will see how God then weaves what we write all together.  I pray your are encouraged by the blogs.

Let me say from the outset that this book has really helped me to make some positive changes in my life and ministry.  Please if you are a pastor or a leader  in a church go out and buy this book and read it cover to cover.  My honest evaluation is that this book should be required seminary reading because it will help those coming into fulltime Christian service.

The book is broken into two parts – Part one: The Inner Life of a Leader and Part two:The Outer life of a leader.  Each part has sections, they are not marked as chapters, and some are short like two pages and others a little long and might be ten pages.  I will for lack of a better word use the word chapter for these sections.  Now let me get into the book.

Both Chapters today are great reading but let me start this series here by talking about Finding Your Center.

Leadership is no easy task in life and I think that the pressures of leading in ministry are magnified even more.  This brings into question what does a Christian leader look like?  Well, MacDonald writes about the Four Traits of a Christian Leader and these four come after he shares that the Lord’s anointing is the starting point.  The four traits he shares are: a leader to communicate vision, a Christian Leader is sensitive to people, a leader must posses the ability to asses situations, and a keen self-knowledge. It is in that last trait that MacDonald develops some really good thoughts about finding your center.

MacDonald writes “If we don’t know ourselves and what shaped us, neutralizes us, and what our limits are, we invite disaster.  May men and women in leadership positions are insecure.  Some struggle with large unresolved areas from the past.  Unless the past can be resolved, it often becomes the Achilles’ heel in leadership”  (Page 7)

He continue a little further down the page, “ The resolution to know oneself begins through daily self-examination against God’s righteousness and the discovery of sinful motives.  Second it’s going back in your past to ask: What has formed me?  What am I looking at in life?  What didn’t I get that I needed.” (Emphasis his – page 7)

From this he then goes into the value of a mentor in helping to deal with this because they will ask the tough questions which is a strong idea and extremely beneficial in my view but it is hard to come by a mentor like that in life.

He writes about leaders and a mentor, “Many leaders operate at a level where they can go for a long time without anybody calling them to account, and as a result, they get so busy helping other people that their perceptions drift.  A mentor  comes along, asks the hard questions, makes the stiff confrontation, and the leader suddenly realizes. How could I not have see this? (Emphasis his – Page 8 )

He ends the chapter talking about  Your Spiritual Center.  He  talks about how we can not make it as spiritual leaders living off our charisma  but we need “to pray, study Scripture, and read heavy doses of classical spiritual literature (page 9).”  He also writes that most leaders are not willing to carve out time in their day to maintain their spiritual center.

Let me ask you several questions:  Who has helped shape you to be the man or woman you are spiritually and what did they do to help you? Have you ever thought about being or considered yourself a mentor? Do you practice spiritual reflection?  How do you do it?  How much time do you take to work on your spiritual center each day?  What do you think of the quotes here by MacDonald?  Is he on track?