Redeem the time.
Those words were written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago to the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 5.16). Those words ring true today as well.
The rest of that verse is true as well – because the days are evil.
The days will distract us from our purpose. The days are not the distraction, but the events within each day will. Just think of 2020.
The year began with the fires in Australia and an impeachment in America. But since then, the major events have hit with wave after wave, with each wave at least as strong as the previous one. These waves have names like COVID, Stock Market Crash, Riots, Another Round of Virus, Hurricane, Election, More Fires, More Riots, Another Hurricane. And on the horizon comes at least one other way named 2020 Election.
I mention these items because, well, all of these events and issues are important. Each one serves as an opportunity. But each one can also be a distraction. Billions of hours have been lost by people watching the news to get updates on issues that have no updates from minute to minute. Yes, being aware of what is happening is important. Again, understanding what is happening can lead to extraordinary opportunities. Those opportunities might lead to business ideas, but they can all lead to different forms of ministry.
But sitting around just watching is not only a wasted opportunity, it is a waste of time. And that means the list above (and others) simply provide a distraction from what can be done.
That is why having a SYSTEM is important. A personal (or organizational) SYSTEM can provide clarity on what someone (or an organization) can do when opportunities present themselves.
As I have modeled it over these past few months, the SYSTEM begins with a VISION. The VISION represents the WHY. It represents the purpose for everything that can be done. As such, the VISION need to be broad enough to encompass whatever your purpose might be because we may all have a similar purpose, but WHAT we do and HOW we do it may be very different.
Personally, my VISION is quite broad, and will not be fully realized on this side of eternity. However, when I am properly living by my SYSTEM, I cannot think of any words that better represent who I am or what I want to be. As I reminder, my VISION is:
- To be the man God has called me to be. (Ephesians 4.1, 5.1)
Once you have a VISION, the next part of the SYSTEM is the MISSION. The MISSION defines the WHAT we will do to achieve the VISION. The MISSION will contain some verbs because again, it is what we must do, to achieve the VISION, but the ideas are still rather broad in general. Thus, my MISSION is:
- I will love my Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, submit to His authority in my life, and rely on His power to use my God-given abilities to serve others – beginning with my family (Phil. 2:3-4). I will seek to grow in my knowledge and understanding of God’s truths, and His will for my life. I will trust in His provision (Ps. 73.25-26). I will externalize my faith by reaching out to others, teaching them God’s truths, and encouraging othersto grow in their own relationship with Christ, so they may disciple others as well (Col. 1.28-29).
The words in bold are my primary spiritual gifts. The verbs love, grow, trust, externalize/reaching represent will be seen again in the STEPS although there I use (mostly) different terms.
The third part of my SYSTEM is the STRATEGY. It is one thing to know WHAT you need to do (MISSION), but until you determine HOW, it is less likely that you will do what needs to be done. Thus, the HOW is the STRATEGY. Granted, to develop an understanding of the particulars may take some time, but that is ok. As I have mentioned before, I have developed this SYSTEM over 20+ years, although very little has changed for the past 15 years and it has been almost static since 2013-2014. That said, my STRATEGY is based upon my desire to constantly grow and thus, it is based upon the acrostic L-E-A-R-N.
- Love God and others, beginning with my family. (Mark 12.29-31)
- Exercise Discipline in my life – spiritually, bodily (diet / exercise), and financially. (1 Tim 4.7-8)
- Action Is the evidence of faith. (James 1.22)
- Read God’s Word and quality resources for continued personal growth. (Prov 1.5-6)
- Nurture Others around me to find God’s purpose for their lives. (1 Cor. 7.17; Eph 4.12-13)
And finally, to execute the STRATEGY, we need a PROCESS, or what I call the individual STEPS. These STEPS all start with L for ease of remembrance, and actually led to the re-naming of our ministry because they capture what I (we) strive to do for ourselves and others. MY STEPS are:
- LEARN More about God, and how He wants me to serve Him (Eph 5.1-2)
- LIVE With a mindset on His Kingdom, not mine. (Mt 6.33)
- LOVE My wife, my children, then others that each might find their own place in serving God. (2 Tim 2.2)
- LEAD My family, then others to serve God and make disciples by equipping them with biblically-based principles. (1 Cor. 11.1)
- (LEAVE) Satisfied that my work is done when I am called, knowing others are equipped to carry on the ministry after I am gone. (2 Tim 4.7)
As I mentioned above, the STEPS align well with my MISSION. The verbs in the MISSION are love which is obviously the same in the STEPS. The other connections are trust and LIVE, grow and LEARN, and externalize/reach which corresponds to LEAD-ing others. And, in teaching others to then share their faith, I can LEAVE.
Many readers have been with me from the beginning of this series. If so, you have followed as I explained each part of my SYSTEM. If you are just finding this blog, you can gain more insight to each part of my SYSTEM in the previous posts for the past few months. In either case, I wanted to share the entirety of my SYSTEM one last time before the next two posts which will share how I believe my SYSTEM fits with Jesus command to “Follow Me” and to “make disciples.”
After that, I will move forward with how we can live in, not of, the world and redeem the time while focusing on our own personal (or organizational) SYSTEM.
So, if you have been following along, now is a good time to review what you have done to date. Seek to determine how your own SYSTEM fits with your goals and objectives. Yes, it may take you some time to work out all of the details, but that’s ok. For now, the goal is to have something on paper to review and to guide you in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
If you are just starting the process, I encourage you to review the previous posts related to this series. All are tagged with “System” or “4Ls” in addition to “fotonni” on the blog and start in June of this year.
Wherever you may be on the timeline of developing your SYSTEM, now is the time to complete it. Only then will you know how to be evaluate the events of the day as potential opportunities or as unwelcome distractions. So, redeem the time now as it relates to getting your SYSTEM together.