Live Like You Mean It
The 10 Crucial Questions That Will Help You Clarify Your Purpose, Live Intentionally, and Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life
T. J. Addington
NavPress, 2010, 167 pp. ISBN 978-1-60006-673-3
Addington is an executive vice president and the international ministry leader of the Evangelical Free Church of America. He is the author of Leading from the Sandbox, one of my book-of-the-year selections for 2010. This is a book of self-exploration and self-discovery, asking questions that could be “game changers” for your life.
1. Why Am I Here? – Pinpointing Your Purpose
“Ultimately our dreams are about living a life of significance. We want to know that our lives count.” (13) “Purpose brings passion.” (23) “Knowing our purpose gives our lives focus. … Our occupation may be directly related to our unique calling, or it may not be. The assignment God gives us is not necessarily related to our job or vocation. Rather, our occupation becomes one more platform from which we can be an influence for Christ.” (26)
“Real life is found as God’s purpose for our lives intersects with our embracing of that purpose.” (28) “God pursues us for relationship and assignment—these two cannot be disconnected from one another. Those who pursue Him also pursue His kingdom agenda and give their lives to His purposes.” (29) “It is in the fulfilling of our unique calling that we deepen our friendship with God, see our lives transformed, and develop His heart for the world.” (30)
2. What is My Sweet Spot? – Understanding How You’re Wired
“When we live, work, and minister in our sweet spot—honoring the way God has wired us—we are most fulfilled and fruitful.” (35) “Every one of us is wired by God for the work He created us to do. … Our spiritual gifts are closely interwoven with our unique wiring.” (36) “…make this a matter of prayer and exploration. The more closely your strengths and vocation are aligned, the happier and more effective you will be.” (39) “How are you presently able to use your gifting both among God’s people and in the world here He has placed you?” (45)
3. What Will I Leave Behind? – Looking Toward Your Legacy
“For each of us, our life has a finish line. The question is, When we reach that line, what will we leave behind? What legacy will we leave?” “It’s possible to minimize the number of regrets we have at the finish line by determining now what we want our legacy to be. Then we can use that vision to create a blueprint for how we will live our lives today. In other words, we start with the end result we want and then arrange our lives in a way that is most likely to get us there.” (48) “…when you understand why you are here, what you are made to do, and how you can utilize your gifts to accomplish it, your legacy will be the natural result.” (49)
“The amazing thing is that Jesus entrusts to each of us a portion of His ministry. He gifts us with abilities and empowers us with His Spirit. We have been invited by the Lord of the universe to represent Him and make a difference for His kingdom by bringing hope to our needy planet. This is one of the greatest blessings we could experience because these investments have eternal value.” (51)
“True legacy is not about the success we have accomplished but about the lives we have affected.” (58) “Meaningful legacy can only be built on character.” (59)
“What potential dangers do you face that would keep you from maximizing your eternal legacy?” (62)
4. What Really Matters? – Establishing Clear Priorities
Using our time effectively is one of our most important endeavors. Busyness robs us of the time to plan our time. “Spend a few moments listing the key priorities that take up your time and then ranking them in order of relative importance. Once you’ve done that, consider two questions: How are you doing in prioritizing these in real life? Are you satisfied that you have the right priorities?” (68)
“If we are clear about God’s priorities for our lives, we can sift through the options and determine, on the basis of those priorities, what we will and won’t do.” (69) “Busyness is the enemy of fruitfulness.” (69) Do fewer things and focus on the most important things.
“There are only three things that cross the line from earthly time to eternity: (1) our spiritual maturity, which comes in large part from our time with our heavenly Father; (2) the lives we have influenced, which comes in large part from our time with others; and (3) the financial investments we have made that brought people to Christ or helped them grow in Him.” (71)
“Before a new month begins, I look at my priorities and my calendar and start blocking out time for important obligations….” (73)
“How do you use the power of no to stay engaged with the most important things, and how has it worked for you?” (77)
5. What is My Plan? – Determining Effective Ways to Grow and Develop
“The day we stop growing is the day we start leaving opportunity on the table.” (80)
Your plan to grow may include people you know, books you read, experiences you choose, ministry you undertake, risks you take, questions you ask, obedience you pursue, love you give, and learning from the defining experiences that happen to you.
6. How Do I Best Recharge? – Recognizing the Rewards of Refreshment
“…many successful people in our world are unhappy. They have everything except the one thing they crave: satisfaction. That comes only when we embrace our eternal purpose.” (97)
“In a great cosmic irony, the busier we are, the less satisfaction our activities deliver because often the cost of our pace is the loss of meaningful spiritual connection.” “Those whose lives are most fruitful take the time to think, reflect, dialogue with key friends, and be quiet long enough to hear what God has to tell them.” (98)
“Each of us needs consistent outlets that help us release stress, renew our energy, and create the space necessary to contemplate.” (104) “Few practices will provide more refreshment to tired hearts than regularly soaking in the words of our Father found in Scripture. Reading the Bible is not an obligation to be endured but a dialogue to be savored and enjoyed. After all, we are communicating with the God of the universe, who loves us endlessly and speaks to us through His Word.” (105)
A personal retreat is time set aside to think, pray, plan, meditate, journal, and read. Distractions are a no-no. (105)
“God’s perspective is that who we are and who we become is more important than what we do and what we accomplish. It is not that our work and activities are unimportant—on the contrary. But much more important than our performance is the person we truly are.” (106) “Building times of refreshment into our lives is fundamental to ensuring that we give ourselves and the Spirit opportunity to keep our hidden selves healthy so that who we are informs and strengthens what we do.” (107)
7. How Can My Life Have a Ripple Effect? – Initiating Ways to Influence and Inspire Others
“The reason God gives spiritual gifts to every Christ follower is to allow us to create ripples of influence and life change.” (112) “We are surrounded by the people He wants us to influence.” (113)
“…one of the greatest gifts you can give to those around you is to be an open book. This means living a life of authenticity, open to the scrutiny of others, with no need to pretend you are something you are not.” (118) “The more open we are, the more approachable we are.” (119)
When you mentor someone, ask what is on his mind, what God has been doing in his life, or what struggles he has been having. Ask questions to help him think and reflect well. Share your life and your encouragement. It will rub off. (120)
Can you think of a ripple of God’s love that started elsewhere but touched your life?
8. How Do I Relate to God? – Deepening Your Spiritual Connection
“Life is about God, not us. But God does not force us to recognize that. We make the choice, and the choice we make has eternal consequences.” (125)
“There is another lie: that we can choose our path to God. This is a grand lie indeed since it attempts to elevate our wisdom above God’s and allows us to create our own god, our own path, and our own spirituality.” (127) “Anyone who is serious about a relationship with Jesus Christ must confront His claim that He is the only way to the Father. There are no alternate routes.” (128)
“I now regularly ask God, ‘Do You have something You want to say to me? I am ready to listen, and I want to hear Your voice if You have something for me.’ It is an attitude of humble listening and a willingness to be still and allow God to speak to me about issues in my life when He chooses to do so.” “Too often the focus of our prayers is on our needs, whereas the great prayers of the Bible are often focused on God’s will being done on earth….” (135)
Can you think of a time when God has clearly spoken to you on some issue?
9. Will I Say Yes to God? – Responding to the Creator’s Call in Good Times and Bad
‘The Christian life is a journey of intentional response to God as He shows us areas of our lives where transformation is needed.” (146)
“There is a unique challenge to our response to God when He showers us with material success. Wealth gives us many options, and those options, along with the security we feel from our abundance, present two critical issues: First, will I believe I was responsible for my success rather than God granting it to me? And second, will I allow my heart to wander from wholehearted commitment to God?” (152) “Wealth is a gift, but it comes with the danger that we will take our eyes off Christ, His kingdom, and the needs of others. How we respond to God in our success is just as important as how we respond to Him in our need. The greater His blessing, the greater our responsibility.” (153)
“When all is said and done, it comes down to this: Will I embrace God and His purposes for me completely? Will I respond without reservation? Will I trust His goodness and sovereignty in the life events I experience?” (156)
10. What Shall I Do Next? – Creating a Plan for the Years Ahead
“Living like you mean it involves integrating your purpose into everyday life, carefully deliberating about decisions, and conscientiously managing your time and energy to maximize your impact for Christ.” (157) “…our commitments and intentions are woven into the fabric of our lives.”
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