I’ve realized something lately, gone are the days of just getting by. No more going through the motions and hoping for the best. Now more than ever it is imperative that we live with intent, we study with intent, we teach with intent, we make decisions with intent and we never judge others because guess what, we don’t know THEIR intent. Here’s a little more detail in each of those areas:
Live with intent/make decisions with intent – Dieter F. Uchdorf said, “We would do well to slow down a little…focus on the significant…and truly see the things that matter most.” I love that quote. The reminder that we need to slow down in order to see what matters most is a reminder I need frequently. The first step in living with more intent is to first realize what is most important to you, then to take time regularly to check in and make sure your choices are leading you to those things that are of utmost importance to you. Prioritizing your goals is what keeps us centered and focused when making each decision in life. What to do, where to live, who to spend our time with….if it doesn’t line up with our priorities then it gets a lot easier to make those decisions.
Study with intent – In 2nd Chronicles 19 Jehosphaphat removes all idols (think temptations for us) and prepares his heart DAILY to seek God. This is clearly not something he is doing lightly, it’s not an approach of “when I get around to it”, he finds time DAILY to seek God and tries to rid himself of all idols that could serve as distractions. I once heard someone say that if you want to really figure out what is important to you try this trick: anytime you think you don’t have time for something change the wording from “I just don’t have time for personal study” to “personal study is not a priority to me” if that doesn’t feel right to you, if your reaction to that is that you really WANT it to be something you have time for than its time to sit down with your calendar and figure out a way to work that in. Schedule it in somewhere and MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Teach with intent – So many of us were raised with “because I said so” being something we heard on a regular basis. And for good reason, following our parents often time was the right answer. With that being said, I think the time has officially come that we need to slow down with that phrase. Are there times where it’s needed? Sure. But there are also so many times when taking the extra time to explain the WHY behind our parenting is beneficial to our kids. The world around them is going SO far in an opposite direction of how we are teaching them so it’s so important for them to truly understand why we are asking them to be different than the crowd. Show your kids how to handle diversity, show them how to stand up for what you believe in, show them how to prioritize the gospel. More than ever we have to be leading by example.
Stop judging – someone recently said to me that people who voted for a certain presidential candidate were on the “wrong side of history”. That got me thinking of all the terrible things that have happened in the word where it seems clear what the right and wrong side of history was. Crucifixion of Christ, Holocaust, slavery…we could go on with many examples. It’s easy to say that there is clearly a right and wrong side…or so it seems at first. I can look at all three of those extreme examples and feel SO strongly about my views on them. I mean, I can’t understand how anyone could think any of those were ever acceptable but here is a new thing that dawned on me recently…how do I know the intentions of someone who thinks the opposite of me? The people who spat on Jesus, mocked him, killed him….we don’t know why they thought that was acceptable. We don’t have to ever agree with them or even be able to understand how they thought that was ok, but we can acknowledge the fact that we don’t know where they were coming from, how they were raised, what they were taught, what they thought to be true with every fiber of their being. Know who does? God. Which then explains why we are explicitly taught to NOT judge anyone but to leave that to Christ. So maybe if we did less attempts at trying to convince people why we are right, less judging them for their choices, and more listening to them to try to truly UNDERSTAND them we could learn to have more compassion for others. And if after doing less talking and more listening we STILL can’t understand where they are possibly coming from we can choose to respect that they have free agency too and God will judge their intentions the same way He will ours and leave it at that.
Some other ways to be intentional: who you follow on social media, how you are spending your free time, looking for God’s hands in the details of your life. Being intentional is a muscle, it takes time and consistency to grow into something strong and beneficial so keep at it, “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20) and remember that energy flows where your intention goes so keep being intentional and don’t give up!
Ps. a great podcast to follow is Life Performance, episode 6 is a great one that goes with a lot of this. Episode 1 is my all time favorite.