Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Certain Road is Paved With Them, But They Can Pave Another Road Too!

The hectic last couple months of 2009 are over and a new year is well under way. In keeping with both the spirit and the specifics of my New Year's resolutions, I intend to be more intentional in the way I live--in particular, the way I EL and EM.

Intentionality. This is one of the words which comes to my mind when I describe our new pastor. I suppose there are levels of intentionality. Obviously, every act we engage in involves some baseline level of intentionality. But what I have in mind is when a person knows exactly what they are setting about to do, has a clear conception of precisely why they are doing it, and a focused mental image of what the expected end-result of their action(s) looks like, and then takes concrete steps in the desired direction.

Our new pastor, Jerry Andrews, came to us on September first of last year and has displayed just this kind of intentionality in just about everything he's done. The very first thing he did--a seemingly insignificant thing--was to replace many of the nouns  in our church bulletin with verbs. Therefore "Corporate Confession" became, "confessing our sins."  He took over the portion of the service called time with children, which had been kind of a cute Kodak moment and turned it into a more intentional time of catechism--enhanced with a flannel board! Kids who used to sit on carpeted steps facing the congregation during this time now sit in a front-row pew, facing the minister instead of an adoring audience. This has all been intentional.

Another evidence of a solid intentionality on his part has been his use of language. When trying to size-up our new pastor, one of the first things I noticed about him was how often her used the word, "project." He even referred to the effort to live for God as  "project." The more I noticed this, the more it mad sense to me. Now I find myself thinking in terms of "projects." What could more intentional than a project? It has plans, a beginning, middle and end--usually involving a series of deadlines. A project accomplishes something--intentionally. Losing one's excess weight is a real project and requires real intentionality.

Life often seduces us to squander our time here and there in drips and drabs without us much noticing. All our electronic gadgets act as co-conspirators in this subtile seduction. We watch one TV show intentionally, and then sit through the next for no particular reason at all. We have a moderate-sized meal but then have second--or even third--helpings whithout giving it much thought at all. How often do we squander our time with the kind of good intentions which never lead to any actions. These are those fuzzy "someday" intentions which are good for paving a certain road, but which are impotent and useless. For years I had this sort of fuzzy intention to eat better, get a little more exercise and someday lose some weight. Of course nothing ever came of such wet-noodle intentions.

The ELEM-6 lifestyle requires a genuine, real and clear intentionality. Let us say you have a vague sort-of intention to perhaps get out and go for a walk tomorrow morning--weather permitting. It's bedtime. You can lull yourself into a happy stupor with this sort of fuzzy intention as you have a glass of milk and a cookie or two. Or, you can whip your fuzzy intention into shape like an Army drill sergeant might do with a dull new recruit. You can  lay out, on the chair where you usually sit for breakfast,  your walking shoes, socks, your sweat pants, a jacket, keys etc. These actions are in harmony with and reflect your real intention to get out for that walk. While you are at it, you can set out that modest-sized bowl for the EL breakfast you will enjoy when you return from your walk. Oh, and don't forget to set your alarm clock for 5:55--and put it somewhere where you will have to get out of bed to turn it off!

This is the kind of intentionality which will transform your someday-I'm going-to-look-into-an exercise-plan-or-yoga-or-something intentions into tomorrow-morning-at-six-fifteen reality!

More about how to build intentionality into your thinking and daily planning in my next post. Have you bought those walking shoes yet?

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