John Maxwell, world renowned authority in the subject of leadership, once told a story of how, back in 1976, he received a gift from Eileen Beavers, his assistant at that time. As he unwrapped it, he saw it was a book with the intriguing title, The Greatest Story Ever Told. He couldn’t wait to read it! But when he opened the book, he was shocked: The pages were blank. Absolutely blank. Inside was a note from Eileen that said, “John, your life is before you. Fill these pages with kind acts, good thoughts and matters of your heart. Write a great story with your life.” This note made him, for the first time, think about how he was the author of his life, and that he could fill every “page” with whatever he wanted. It made him want to be significant; it inspired him to do whatever he could to make his life matter.
At the core of intentional living is:
- Having a pristine understanding of who you are in Christ and what God’s purpose for your life is.
- Knowing why you do what you do and why you don’t do what you don’t do.
- Being willing to take a step back and evaluate the things you are doing.
- Doing the things that are important to you even when they are not easy.
- Evaluating the advice and example of other people and taking from it what works for you.
- A life of legacy, which stems from making impacts that transcend generations and geographical borders.
Living intentionally is what clearly differentiates a person who is ‘living’ from another who is merely ‘existing’. It helps you chart a course for your life – and for the people you are responsible for – instead of just breezing aimlessly through life. It further gives you the liberty to make time for the things that are truly important and to discard the rest.
Components of Intentional Living
- Visioning. You need to develop the capacity of receiving and then running with God’s instructions for your life, especially as we approach the New Year. Every vision has a timeline, after which it loses its potency. All things may be lawful but not all things are helpful; therefore, strive to keep your focus, channel your energy and deploy your resources on only those things that matter.
- Be strategic. Get your goal-setting gloves on! Break those seemingly colossal goals, targets and aspirations into smaller tasks that you can handle quite easily. Every complexity of life is just an aggregation of smaller parts. Find the smaller details in every challenge and tackle them one at a time.
- Banana Island, Lagos, wasn’t sand-filled in a day. Small but consistent actions birth mastery over life and make the most significant impact. Stay disciplined in the course of life like an athlete does. Don’t worry if you fail at being the best version of you from time to time. Each time you come short, get right up and try again. When you don’t let your head down, you will in no distant time be the focal point in the story of your life.
- If you will live your dream life and make any sustainable impact, you must feed your strengths and starve your weaknesses. Be bold, yet unassuming. Have the ‘I-can-do’ attitude always. You can do all [expedient] things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). “Every time you choose action over ease; you develop an increasing level of self-worth, self-respect, and self-confidence”, says John Maxwell.
- Pray without ceasing. You also need to have an attitude of gratitude, both to God and to man. A heart of thankfulness impels you to focus on living the best life God has intended for you, instead of wallowing in jealousy and self-pity over the progress of others.
- Leverage on God’s wisdom. Living intentionally requires knowing, like the Sons of Issachar, what to do, when to do it and how to do it. God says in Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you marvellous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ Trust that God is able to direct your affairs and in turn, surrender the government of your life over to Him.
- Define your values and stick with them. Your outlook to life must not be anything short of positive. Your life becomes more interesting and influential the moment you choose to become selfless and prioritize others above yourself.
The key to a life that matters to God and humanity, is one that entails living your best story, and not someone else’s. Don’t just be fixed on hearing or telling a good story; instead, be that good story – of love, selflessness, impact, courage, patience, faith, exploit, significance, and so on. There’s no limit to the positive change you can engineer when you begin to live each day with intense intentionality.
Written by Matthew Mancha