Life,  Personal

Applying the System – A Second Look

How do you make decisions?

That was the question last week, and now I return to it next week. As I mentioned then, the decisions I am referencing are life decisions, not the average decisions we make daily – although the theory does still work.

The purpose of this post is to provide another example of how I use my system to make decisions. Last week, I shared how I made a decision to return to school for a different doctoral degree. I encourage you to read that post as it provides additional context. Today, I will speak about a more difficult decision – one that did not align originally – a decision to host a second podcast.

In early summer, I was asked to host a new podcast sponsored by The Baptist Home – an entity which is a part of the Missouri Baptist Convention. The Baptist Home provides care and residential services (primarily) for (mainly) senior citizens in multiple locations in Missouri. The goal of the podcast is to interview leading experts about a multitude of topics covering issues relating to all kinds of aspects of aging. But the key is that the issues will be covered from a biblical worldview. Thus, the podcast name is Biblical Perspectives on Aging.

A few aspects about the podcast changed from the first time I was contacted. The emphasis of the podcast expanded which also caused a name change. Those factors led me towards saying, “Yes.” Initially, however, the focus was on a particular area which is not a strong suit for me, and although it would require me to learn (and would be advantageous in some ways), it was not a good fit.

However, as we continued to discuss the possibilities, the scope changed. And while aging issues are not my primary focus or expertise, I do serve a church that has many senior citizens. I have a mother and extended family that are aging as well. And, Lord willing, my wife and I will age, and we need to know more about the issues we will face. (Incidentally, that is one of the blessings and curses of being a pastor – we have the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with those who are older than us which provides opportunities to learn and also reveals what life may become at a later point – and some of that is far from good.)

So, during the discussions, I again ran through my SYSTEM to determine if this was a good fit. I already host my own podcast, in addition to my other responsibilities, so it needed to fit well besides just being a way for me to learn about caring for senior adults. After all, I could listen to the podcast and still accomplish that.

Again, as The Baptist Home fleshed out their ideas internally, and had subsequent discussions with me, it became apparent that it was a good fit. (A significant key was also that I do not have to coordinate securing the guests or market the podcast generally or the episodes specifically. If that responsibility fell to me, the time required would have impeded my other responsibilities.)

First, I reviewed my VISION. Again, my VISION is rather open-ended so many things might fit, but in this instance, if God does allow me to remain on earth for a couple of decades or longer, I will be a senior adult (and really it isn’t even that long). So, who I will be in 15-20 or more years matters. Thus, “to be the man God has called me to be” can be considered in light of a podcast which focuses on those who are already of an age I may be one day. So, I think VISION fits well.

As for MISSION, serving as host requires me to “grow in my knowledge” in order to prepare interview questions which will serve the listening audience. The questions I ask will be a part of “teaching” others (although perhaps you would consider it as doing so indirectly). The podcast should encourage (and perhaps inspire) people to also be an advocate for aging, which is a form of leading them. But the biggest aspect for me in this endeavor (which is much more difficult to discern, at least initially, in the previous decision that I covered last week) is the idea of LOVE. Of course, that LOVE begins with Jesus, but it must include loving and serving others. My personal podcast (Christian Educator Weekly) tries to do that by helping people be better educators and administrators of their ministries and churches, but this one is designed to help anyone who serves – OR EVEN KNOWS – someone who is a senior adult, or soon will be. Thus, knowing that the LOVE aspect was not as forefront in the previous decision-making process, it jumped out to me, and with everything else in place, it helped me make the decision.

So, the WHY (the VISION) and the WHAT (the MISSION) were satisfied. If that happens, the HOW is just a matter of figuring it out. So, for the sake of brevity, let me only cover the STRATEGY for this decision.

LOVE – I already mentioned this above, but it is not just loving God and others in a generic sense; some of those others are my own family.

EXERCISE – A recent interview I completed was with an 88-year-old man who is well-known in many Christian circles. He is still active and vibrant and his mind is still sharp. That does not happen by accident. He exercised discipline in his life and seeing how he is today gives me incentive to care for myself physically and spiritually (and financially) as well.

ACTION – Helping others to know what actions to take is one way to serve. But if I am not taking action myself, how does that help the ones I love? It doesn’t. I must act as well.

READ – A lot of the reading will involve preparing for interviews. Two of the interviews to date were about specific topics written about by two different interviewees. I had to read to prepare and, in the process, was able to learn a great deal. This part of the STRATEGY will be key.

NURTURE – This area of my STRATEGY is partly covered in ACTION. From a purely personal standpoint, it could encompass EXERCISE as well. But truly, the idea of NURTURE is to do so for those around me to help them find God’s purpose in their lives. Well, having only completed a handful of interviews thus far, I can assure you that I understand these issues better, and I believe that others who listen will gain valuable insights as well. And again, a key distinctive of this podcast is the biblical perspective we bring to the issues.

Thus, I believe my STRATEGY fits this opportunity very well. Sure, we can bend and stretch opportunities to fit or not fit our SYSTEM. But with practice, it becomes clearer when we are doing so.

Ultimately, having a personal SYSTEM is only helpful if you use it, and do so honestly. That does not mean we will be perfect in applying it, but my SYSTEM is mine and your SYSTEM is yours, so each one should have incentive to apply it appropriately to their own purposes.

Of course, the SYSTEM does not necessarily cover all aspects that must be considered. For instance, my SYSTEM has a hint of time management in it under the Exercise portion of my STRATEGY, but nothing is specifically mentioned. Thus, every item of the SYSTEM might seem good, but the timing might not be right and that should still lead to a “No.”

As I mentioned above, that would have been the case for me if I was also asked to do the marketing, etc. It is not a skill of mine anyway, but I do not have time for that at this point. So, if that would have been a requirement, I would have had to either say “No” to this opportunity OR remove another item from my list (which, at this time, I do not feel is pertinent).

Fortunately, that situation did not arise, but the point remains, your SYSTEM can cover most items which are important to you, but you may always have an area or two that is not explicitly covered. For me that is the time factor. And because my time is not just my own, I need to go outside of my SYSTEM anyway to discuss such matters with my wife. But that is a post for another day.

I realize that more could be said, but I hope these last two posts have helped show the advantages of having a SYSTEM to use as part of the decision-making process.

Next week, our attention will move beyond the specifics of having a life SYSTEM, to living our lives in, not of, the world (fotonni).

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