Starting Fresh

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As promised, I’m back from vacation and ready to start posting again. What better way to begin than with a few hints for those ready for a fresh start in life?

  • Don’t let guilt over past sins or missed opportunities hamper you. Trust your life to the God Who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and has plans to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Cut ties with bad habits, toxic relationships, and other things that hinder your progress (Hebrews 12:1). With those that can’t be completely severed–a difficult marriage or a debt that still has to be paid–seek out compensating spiritual support in other areas.
  • Cultivate relationships with spiritually mature, supportive, and optimistic people who believe in you.
  • Don’t chase instant gratification, but do follow your God-given passions. If you have a long-neglected dream, now is the time to pursue it.
  • Remember that keeping busy with trivial matters is often an excuse for being lazy about your true calling. Give high-priority tasks high priority on your daily calendar, and let God show you which “urgent” tasks don’t really need doing.
  • Always save time for prayer and worship and a regular day of rest. Don’t, however, feel you must pray three hours a day because someone you admire does; look for prayer and worship approaches that match your unique temperament.
  • Take good care of your physical health. Especially when moving into a new stage of life, you need adequate nutrition and rest to keep your strength up.
  • Don’t push yourself to make quick progress, or you’ll get perfectionistic and discouraged, and perhaps give up on change altogether. Slow and steady really does win the race.
  • Save time to have fun and pamper yourself! Give yourself every reason to stay grateful to the God Who gives us every good thing for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17).

 

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Finding Your Purpose

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Since Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life was first published in 2002, “purpose” has become an everyday word in the Christian community. So far as it keeps us motivated to seek God’s will, that’s a good thing. But it has its dangers, especially for Christians who tend toward perfectionism and legalism.

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat, Anyway?

I admit I don’t care for the phrase “purpose driven.” Drivenness in general is responsible for much frustration in my life: too much hurry, too little rest, too much fear of failure, too many “urgent” short-term activities at the expense of forward-thinking action that fits real purpose better. While it’s good to have a larger sense of purpose guiding daily activities, the only One with the right to drive our lives is the Lord of the easy yoke and light burden.

It’s not really a purposeful life if you’re wearing yourself out trying to steer it personally.

Rest Stops

One classic time-management tip, called “Lakein’s Question” after author Alan Lakein, is to ask oneself regularly: What is the best use of my time right now? Anyone intending to make frequent use of that question, though, had better first run a check on tendencies to equate “useful” with “obviously productive.” There are always a few more things that need someone to do them, but just because no one else is doing them right now doesn’t mean you have to–especially if you’re already frustrated, burnt out, and sleep-deprived.

Just about everyone needs one full day off each week; seven or more hours of sleep every night; regular breaks in the course of a day’s work; and a few week-or-more vacations each year. If you’re getting less than that (or if you’re going through the motions but still thinking about “what else I could be getting done”), chances are you’re sabotaging your own ability to discern and fulfill your life’s purpose.

As anyone who’s ever memorized the Ten Commandments knows, “time off” is an entirely Biblical concept. God may be more displeased with nonstop motion (often used in attempts to usurp His authority) than with outright laziness.

Enjoy Life, It’s Good for You

Perhaps unfairly, the “Protestant” or “Puritan” “work ethic” is frequently construed as containing an Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not enjoy thyself.” This world has its share of sinful pleasures, but choosing a career or volunteer activity that appeals to your personal passions isn’t among them.

More often than not, your natural skills and passions are clues to God’s purpose for your life–and while not everyone can turn a love of painting into a full-time career, we all can find opportunities to glorify God, bless others, and cultivate our favorite talents through volunteer projects or leisure activities. Nothing is idolatrous or self-indulgent if it enhances your ability to love God and neighbor.

The Greatest Purpose

We individualism-minded Westerners tend to forget that the Bible was created in societies where the average person had little direct say in what career he would pursue or whom she would marry. While that worldview is hardly without disadvantages, its forming the backdrop for Scripture is evidence we needn’t fret too hard about the one exact career/spouse/education/hometown that coincides with God’s will for us. Stay in touch with God, cultivate your natural passions, consider big decisions against the question, “Will this help me seek God and serve my neighbor?”–and then act in confidence that our Lord will work all things out for good.

Centuries before The Purpose Driven Life, the Westminster Shorter Catechism summed up purpose in the simple statement: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That’s applicable to any believer in any life situation.

  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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  • About Me

    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at www.PositiveContentFactory.com.

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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