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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Things to do today – I list our all I want to accomplish each day.
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.