Saturday, March 30, 2013

Directed vs. Drifting: Where are Your Going?

Back in March I gave an evening study called "Directed or Drifting", the basis of which was a blog post by Cal Newport over at Study Hacks. I tooled the viewgraphs and topic to the Christian arena, as the point of Cal's message is applicable to every area of our lives. And in fact, I think that is the most important part of the message: we can't be a directed Christian and not be directed in other areas. We are either all in, or we're out.

As a Christian, we need a handful of things to help us in the path of "directedness." I'm sure there are other nuances and actions here, but I sum them up in this way:
1) We need goals of who we intend to be in Christ;
2) We need clear and measurable objectives regarding those goals;
3) We need some criteria that define what we will and/or will not do, and;
4) We need Biblical accountability to help us consistently achieve those things.

And lest you think I'm some great rabbi, I learned these tenants from Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge in his amazing sermon series "Balancing Life's Demands."

Let's start with the first: Who do I intend to be?

If I don't know who I want to be, I'll have a hard time achieving that state.  Joshua 24:15 "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." While the Holy Spirit helps me in the process of sanctification, having a clear picture of the end results helps me judge how I'm doing, and gives me hope for what the future holds.Set some times aside to pray for direction and wisdom, and write out some ideas about who you want to be in Christ. Here are some examples that I am committed to myself:

These ideals are biblically based (greatness in relationships, profession, and faith), are specific to me, and were arrived at over time through prayer. I didn't specify "how" I'll achieve these, but for each one I can picture what that might look like. Each is achievable through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, focusing and energizing me in various activities.

Some specific "criteria" or "measures" I've come up with associated with each goal above:
Being a great husband means:
  • Spending dedicated time each week with Brigette
  • Doing activities that a spiritual leader in the home would do (prayer, study together, etc.)
  • Being faithful stewards of our finances and resources
Being a successful Naval officer means:
  • Achieving necessary professional wickets such as expected billets and roles.
  • Gaining expertise in my warfare area
  • Doing good work
  • Taking opportunities to further my professional education
Being a respected nuclear engineer means:
  • Achieving educational/professional credentials
  • Being able to accurately perform skills associated with my job (calculations, research, etc.)
  • Taking on challenging work
  • Having people come to me because they know they'll find answers and help
  • Being able to "defend" my resolution of any tensions between faith and science
As a practical point, I have each of these written as a note in Evernote which I review periodically (about once a month for each) to see how I'm doing in each area. I try to ask myself a couple questions for self-assessment. 

1) Since I last reviewed this area, what have I done that reflects my growth in this area (a success)?
2) What have I done to grow further in this area?
3) What am I now doing to grow this area?
4) What additional help do I need in this area? (mentoring, resources, experiences, opportunities)
5) Who is helping me to assess this area?
6) What is one thing I will commit to doing between now and my next self-assessment to grow?

I try to keep track of my notes so I can see progress. A calendar reminder in Google flags me at the beginning of each week to tell me what I'm going to review that week on a rotating basis. 

Total time: ~ 1 hour to develop goals and measures, ~ 30 minutes each week to review.
Resources: Something to capture what your goals are, something to track your progress.

Next up: Pre-decisions.