After a certain age there is a shift from ‘automatic’ to ‘manual’ (waistline, family, friendships, ministry, emotional health, etc.)!! Have you noticed this to be the case? I was first introduced to this concept by Wayne Cordiero, author of “Leading on Empty”. This insight explained a lot about what I was seeing in my own life and the lives of others around me.
The basic concept is this: what may have come more easily or naturally to us when we are younger needs to be pursued more intentionally as we mature.
- When we are young we can ‘get away with’ not eating well and not exercising, but there is a certain point where we have to be intentional to be healthy.
- When we are young and in school or college friendships come naturally, but there is a certain point when only those who are very deliberate have a rich relational life.
- When we are young perhaps we have not experienced disappointment and delay, so we find it easy to assume a hopeful stance about life. However, only those who take steps to conquer disappointment and delay end up prevailing later in life.
- When we are young in faith we are carried by the excitement and newness of it all, but there is a time when we need to be fueled more by choice than by feelings.
- When we are younger it is sometimes easier to maintain a sweet attitude, but over time we need to be careful to not become curmudgeonly (how is that for the word of the day!).
This is one of the reasons why the Bible speaks so often about the need for us to exercise our God-given power of choice. If we are pro-active, we can both maintain and add to areas of high value in our lives. If we let atrophy have its way, we slowly lose what we value.
Here are several positive choices we are urged toward in Scripture. Let this be a guide for you as you shift from ‘automatic’ to ‘manual’:
- Choose to have a vibrant faith in Christ- “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV). There are many challenges to maintaining a vibrant faith in Christ, including the false messages we can receive from the flesh, the world and the devil. When your feelings tell you otherwise, maintain the choice to put Christ first in your life until that day when you final reap the full reward for having done so!
- Choose to be in fellowship with others- “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). It is critical that you get around people who help move, and do not hinder you from, pursuing your God-given purpose. We need others around us who will strengthen, encourage, support and cheer for us! Relational health is not a matter of coincidence- it is a matter of choice.
- Choose to be attentive to the activity of God in your life- “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20 NIV). In this passage Joseph was sustained through very difficult trials knowing that God’s purpose in it all would ultimately prevail. When you look at life with a faith perspective that assumes that God is at work, even when you do not see it, your entire outlook is changed!
- Choose to live courageously- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7 NKJV). Each day we decide to operate out of fear or out of the ready resources that God makes available to us. What amazing things might you attempt if you operated from a confidence that God is with you and He provides all that you need to take new territory?!
- Choose to pursue holistic health- “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (III John 1:2). God is interested in our being healthy in body, soul and mind. Each day we make choices that either move us towards or away from a sustainable life marked by freedom, joy and peace.
The sooner we recognize that life is meant to be lived in “manual”- the sooner we can leverage our daily choices for the life that God intends for us to live.