Living On Purpose: One Day At A Time, Part Two

“Happy birthday, son”, words from a June phone conversation I had with my father for my twelfth birthday; my birthday is in April.  He never took the time to get to know me as my parents separated and divorced while I was still in diapers.  An absent father has been one of the many events that have shaped my life.

I remember standing in the hospital on March 31st, 1992 and holding a five-pound baby boy, my first child, promising to always know him.  I promised to be ever-present in his life.  I promised not to treat him as my father had treated me.  I was going to provide for him, teach him to become an honorable man and model an authentic relationship with God before him.  On February 26th, 1993, I made a similar resolve as I spoke over my second son and promised him the same proactivity as my first son.  These are promises I have kept now for nearly twenty years.

My children have grown to be fantastic young men.  I’m very proud of them and excited to see how God will use their lives in the years to come.  It hasn’t been easy but it has been rewarding.

Twenty-six years ago, parked on the shoulder of highway 167 in my Subaru Brat, in Renton, Washington I envisioned what my life would become.  Today, with very few exceptions, I’m here – I won’t stay here – mind you – I’ve got work to do and places to go.  But, my life is exactly where I purposed it to be.

Let me share with you how I got here: one day at a time.  Don’t leave – I know that’s a simple statement but one that needs a bit of explaining.  So stick with me…  Everyone in life – every day of his or her life – develops.  We develop emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.  Unfortunately, most people develop solely reacting to situations and circumstances.  Like a pinball, they’re flung to and fro never really knowing which way is which.  They wake up, work a lot, play little, have families, experience joy, pain and disappointment.  They live life never really knowing who or what they’re becoming.  The whole of their existence has been one reaction after another.  That’s no way to live – but it’s how most people live.

Instead of living a reactive life – be proactive.  Determine who you want to be and where you want to go and get there – one day at a time.  Over the last couple of decades I’ve developed a system that I call My Personal Development.  It’s currently in the form of a Microsoft Excel file that you can download here if you’re interested.

Let me tell you how I use it:

Everyday I ask myself thirteen questions based on the virtues Benjamin Franklin asked himself.  I also evaluate the steps I take to becoming a person of influence.  I follow everything up with a quick journal entry that begins with the word, “Yesterday”.  I find it helpful to look one day over my shoulder so I can make mid-course corrections and stay proactive in my development.  In the journal portion, I write about the previous day and evaluate my contacts, conversations, regrets, and moments of celebration.  If, during the course of the journal entry, I discover something that needs corrected – I make it right as soon as possible and optimally that day.  Mornings are my most successful time to use the system.  You use it when you feel it works best in your schedule.  The important thing isn’t the time of day; the important thing is to use it everyday or most days.  Be consistent, proactive and get there one day at a time!

Living On Purpose: One Day At A Time, Part One

The “S” curves along Interstate 405 South to State Route 167 were usually slow at this time of day.  Beginning about 2pm, traffic on any major roadways in and around Seattle are equivalent to the cholesterol clogged arteries of anyone on a steady diet of biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast, McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese and fries for lunch, and Pizza Hut for dinner.  Within a half mile of pulling onto 167, I was bound the shoulder because I could no longer see the road through my tears.

Rewind about two hours…  I was just finishing class for the day at Northwest Bible College when I heard about Darrell, a local pastor who I idolized, thought was a great example of someone who knew and followed God, and someone I had no idea what was really going on in the darkest corners of his life.  Darrell flushed his vows when he left his wife, family and church to find solace in the arms of another woman: the church secretary.  Rewind another year and you’ll discover another idolized pastor, named Robert, who’s erring decision involved not the church secretary, but the church piano player.

I was devastated; sitting on the shoulder in my 1984 Subaru Brat trying to convince myself it was worth driving another foot further.  It was Wednesday and we had youth group at the church where I was a youth ministry intern.  I usually arrived at the church around 3pm to set up, connect with students and get ready for the night.  However, today I wasn’t going to make it by 3pm.  And, I didn’t make it by 4pm.  I literally sat on the road for a couple of hours praying, asking questions and making life long resolves.

One of the questions I asked:  How does a guy walk away after standing at an altar – before God, a pastor, a soon-to-be bride and a gathered audience – and make vows that 20 years later seemingly mean nothing?  The only answer I could come up with then and still today is this:  One day at a time.  The adverse question gets the same answer:  How does a guy remain faithful to his God, wife, family and church – even after 20+ years of marriage?  The answer:  One day at a time.

An affair.  It begins with little lapses of judgment – things thought to be harmless plant the seeds of demise.  Every decision changes the trajectory of our lives until one day we stand at the point of folly; a leap we’ve been preparing to make for a long time.  Then, in a moment of self-described weakness, life is forever altered.  Everything is ruined.  As far as I’m concerned, you don’t get the benefit of the “weakness card”.  You’ve purposed in your heart to go there as soon as the right situation presented itself.  Sin always results in death.  In this case, it’s the death of your moral authority, potentially your family and any aspirations you had professionally.  The consequences are the same for the church as in the marketplace; your choice brings more change than you planned for.  It’s time to start looking for moving boxes.

One day at a time.  What if we decided – one day at a time – to remain pure, faithful and forthright?  That’s what I decided over 25 years ago on the side of the road near Renton, Washington.  Over the last couple of decades I have been developing a system to help me keep short accounts with my character, resolve and relationship with God and others.  I call this system, My Personal Development.  Next week, I’ll share with you the details of this system.

Until then, check the trajectory of your life.  Where are you headed?  If traversing down a dark path, stop and turn around.  On many levels, you cannot afford the damage, pain and death that moral destruction brings.  What you’re deciding to do is decidedly not worth it.  Stop and turn around.