One quality of life we can observe is that structure and order do not happen automatically. For instance, the building of a home needs an intentional plan for it to exist effectively. It does not result from random, haphazard decisions. The same is true for a successful life.
Intentionality is the quality of being deliberate and purposeful. Those who are intentional are proactive and not reactive. They have a goal in mind in various areas of life, and they develop a plan to reach that goal.
Here are five ways to increase intentionality in your life:
- Look ahead – “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12). When we are driving on a highway, we look forward to see the obstacles and opportunities ahead. It would be foolish to only look a few feet in front of the car. Intentional people regularly look ahead in their days and calendar to avoid problems and to maximize the moments ahead.
- Reflect – “I went by the field of the lazy man . . . When I saw it, I considered it well. I looked on it and received instruction” (Proverbs 24:30-32). Intentional people are students of other people and themselves. They gain wisdom by reflecting on the results of various life choices, whether positive or negative. They study the habits of the greatest influencers, and learn what not to do from those whose choices have led into difficulty.
- Learn from the pain of poor choices – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). God’s Plan A for our growth is not for us to experience pain from poor choices in life, but He certainly can use it. Whether the pain is chaos in a meeting you are leading or having people regularly misunderstand you, there is something to be implemented to decrease the likelihood of that happening again. Intentional people learn how to sow seeds leading to fulfillment and fruitfulness.
- Develop structures in your life – Both successful and unsuccessful people don’t usually feel like doing the things that will lead to abundant living, but successful people build structures to do what they often don’t feel like doing. These structures are daily or regular habits, plus meetings to inspire themselves or to accomplish goals. We create these structures by clarifying what result we want to see, and then determining steps needed to get there. For instance, if we want greater unity in our organization, we could have teaching on healthy relationships, give time for fun interactions, appoint a relational catalyst, etc.
- Get the right people in your life – Intentional people understand the power of having the right people in their lives. We need to hear from, or be connected to, those who are doing well at what we want to excel in. We also need peers or mentors to interact with as we seek to go higher in our habits. This interaction will cause us to reflect and to adjust our structures into what really works for us.
Those who succeed most seem to fail most. When a toddler learns to walk, he seems to experience much failure, but it is simply the normal process of getting the walking structure learned. In the same way, as we seek to walk higher in intentionality, we will probably not do it well. Don’t give up, and you will find the fruit and fulfillment of living an intentional life.
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ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.