This is not about New Year’s resolutions, but it can apply.
Long ago, in the dim, dark, misty past, when I was in my twenties, I read a very old, long-out-of-print book with the intriguing title, How To Get What You Want.
The simple ten-minutes-a-day strategy that ancient author presented is scary not only because it works, but because you also discover some amazing things about yourself. My favourite college professor used to say, “Look carefully where you are going, because you will go where you are looking.” Exactly!
Since this strategy is so effective, don’t practice it in a spiritual, moral or ethical vacuum. Read the Bible and pray for guidance before you start.
- Take a spiral bound notebook with lined paper and on the first page write down, by hand, ten things you really want. Limit the list to ten only items.
- Study your list and write a (1) in front of the one you want the most, a (2) for the next, and so on in order of priority. Read the list as a prayer, out loud if possible. Close the notebook and go on your way.
- The next day, after Bible reading and prayer, open your notebook, study your list, and clarify or refine where necessary. Then copy your list of ten items, in order of priority, on page two. Pray through your list, close the notebook and go on your way.
- You may be tempted to do this on your word processor. Resist that urge! Keep doing this by hand. The simple act of your hand writing out your desires every day drives you to think more deeply about them.
- By the third day you will probably have thought of an eleventh thing you really want. Simply add it to the list and delete one to keep your list down to ten. Then rewrite your list, in order of priority, on page three.
- Simply keep doing this every day, page after page, notebook after notebook and be prepared to be amazed and thankful.
If you’re like me, it won’t take more than a month for at least half the things on the first day’s list to be replaced by other, more important things you really want. That’s one scary part–to realise you didn’t really know what you wanted on the first day!
By the second or third month you will have deleted and replaced several items, not because they were not important, but because you got them. That’s the other scary part–this strategy really works!
Be careful what you put on that daily list. That list will influence your mind, your daily decisions, and shape your life, your family and your ministry.
I remember putting things like a new car, a high income and other such material things high up on my earlier lists. They soon slid lower and lower as God showed me things that were far more important, like a godly wife, healthy children, an exciting ministry and, eventually, the Scriptures translated into Canela. I did get a new car, by the way, a 1962 Volkswagen bug that served my beautiful young wife and me well for years.
I have practiced this exercise in one form or another for the past fifty years. What are the things on my list now that I am in my mid-seventies? The top ones are about my relationships with God, my wife, and my family. I want some specific successes in our current ministry, and I have some health goals.
What about that new piece of high-technology I saw last month? Yeah, it would be nice to have, but it’s not on my top ten list of things I really want.