Sr. Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ (American, 1937?-), "O Root" (from the "O Antiphons" series). Of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Tags: Tree of Jesse. Source: http://csjstpaul.org/ansgar_holmbergs_o_antiphon_paintings.aspx; http://yokeofchrist.blogspot.com/2010/12/o-root-of-jesse.html

Day 4: Aligning with Your Goals

You have examined clarity and movement in your quest to have a closer relationship with God. Now you will look at the issue of alignment making certain all you do moves you toward the accomplishment of your goals. I will suggest live ways you can align your life’s activities with your mission statement.

Looking in the Mirror: Honest Self-Assessment

The simple life means we have to face the reality of who we are. It means facing some potentially tough issues. In the research it asked whether respondents were good spiritual leaders in their families. Only 22 percent strongly agreed they are good spiritual leaders. Nearly half 46 percent, only somewhat agreed. The remaining 32 percent admitted they are not good spiritual leaders.

Why would nearly half of those surveyed respond with uncertainty about such an important issue? It would seem many were just not being completely honest with themselves. They were hopeful but not realistic.

Survey Statistics

22% strongly agree they are good spiritual leaders.

46% somewhat agree they are good spiritual leaders

32% say they are not good spiritual leaders.

For example, Karl, a software developer in a suburb of Kansas City, was asked why he could not answer the question with greater certainty.

“Well,” he began hesitatingly, “I think I do a pretty good job of being a spiritual leader in my family. And I’m known at work as a guy who doesn’t cuss or drink. I pray sometimes, so I guess I can’t be all that bad as a spiritual leader.”

When we asked Karl whether his wife and children would describe him as a spiritual leader, he curtly responded, “I’m not sure what they would say.”

“Are you a regular Bible reader?”

“Who is?” he questioned in response.

“Do you regularly attend church?” His curious response to that question was “I don’t know.”

Talking to Someone: Accountability

Let’s suppose you included in your mission statement a desire to attend church regularly. What form of accountability works best for you?

Ella from Oregon responded without hesitation. “I just told my three kids we needed to start going to church,” she said with a grin. l’m a single mom with absolutely no time, so l’ve pushed God out of my life. But when I told the girls we were going to church, they started reminding me every Saturday night and waking me up on Sunday mornings. That was all the push I needed.”

Indeed, many respondents in our study indicated they had accountability approaches. “I got involved in a Bible-study group at a church a few miles from me,” Sandra told us. “The people in the group are great, but if I miss a study, they text-message me before the day is over.” Others hold each other accountable by phone.

A few of the respondents were accountable to themselves. It such a statement sounds contradictory, that was our first reaction as well. But George from Texas disagreed. “I keep my relationship with God strong by writing in a journal,” he said. “I write with total honesty. And I can tell ill am getting off track by what I write in my journal. And I know I’m really getting off track if I fail to write something in my journal every day.”

Recognizing Who You Are: The Personality Match

Countless self-assessment tools are on the market today to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, our leadership style, our personality traits, and our spiritual gifts. But you don’t have to take an inventory to know some things about yourself You know what you like and what you don’t like. And you know what works in your life and what doesn’t. In fact, I found that many people are out of alignment in their relationships with God because they are trying to do something that goes against the grain of their personalities and the way God made them.

Many struggle in their relationships with God because they try to be someone else. God accepts us as we are. Listen to the comments of some of those who get this idea:

° “I read my Bible in 15-minute increments. It helps me better grasp the meaning than if I did one long  reading.”

° “My prayer time is the first thing in the morning before the kids get up. It’s the only time I have alone, and it’s my best time of day.”

° “I started becoming more faithful in my church attendance when I began going to the early-morning service. Thats just a better time of day for me.”

° “I used to force evangelistic conversations on people, although it wasn’t really my style. I stopped doing that and started praying that God would give me opportunities for natural conversations. It has been amazing! I am now sharing my faith more than ever.”

Being Willing to Realign: Flexibility

‘Sometimes,” Michael said, “I just wonder if l will ever get this right Since I became a Christian more than 10 years ago, I have tried to have a closer walk with God. When I was single, I had no problem with time for prayer and studying God’s word. But now I am married with two preschool sons. I’m having a tough time doing things the way

I used to.”

Guess what, Michael? You probably can’t do things the way you used to.

Michael has family responsibilities he didn’t have a few years ago. He has time Constraints that are different. He has to realign.

The apostle Paul was the master of realignment.

Read Acts 16:6-10.

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Identity three ways the Holy Spirit redirected Paul and his companions.

1.

2.

3.

Paul saw every closed door as an opportunity to find an open door. And he finally found his place of alignment with God’s plan for him.

Alignment will probably lead to realignment. And realignment means you won’t always get it right, but then you try again. Realignment may also mean you get it right for a while, but you have to adjust or change as God changes the circumstances of your life. Like Paul, stay sensitive to Gods leadership and be obedient to His direction for the next step. He is drawing you into a deeper relationship with Himself.

As you have begun aligning your life with your mission statement, in what ways do you already need to realign?

How do you know you need to realign?

Accepting Your Humanity: A Willingness to Be Imperfect

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you may have noticed that being a Christian doesn’t mean you stay sin-free. Even Paul talked about his struggle with sin.

Read Romans 7:19, 24-25.

19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Describe Paul’s dilemma. In what areas of your life do you struggle with sin as Paul did?

Even though we have been saved by faith in Jesus, we still sin. And although our sin nature doesn’t give us an excuse to sin, we have the promise of forgiveness. No matter how hard we try, we can never do everything  perfectly.

 

Some fail to enter the simple life because they are perfectionists. If they don’t do things exactly right, they consider themselves failures. Are we talking to you?

Meet Rebecca from Des Moines, Iowa. Rebecca is a perfectionist And it is about to kill her. “My pastor told me I needed to have a one-hour quiet time every day,” she said nervously. “I did fine the first three days; and then, boom, a dozen urgent matters got me off focus. The same thing has happened to me in my Bible-reading time. In fact, it seems like every time I try to do something right, I fail. I really wonder if it’s worth the effort at all.”

Although we should strive to draw closer to God, we also need to understand that amazing thing called grace. Because of what his Son did for us, God loves us unconditionally. We don’t seek to please him so that he will love us. We seek to please him because we desire to respond to his grace and love.

If you are a perfectionist, relax in the simple life. Jesus said it best: Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Shed the perfectionism and rest in Jesus.

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