“We don’t grow because of good intentions; we grow because of intentional decisions.’
At last year’s women’s retreat, the speaker made this comment: “The fruit of our lives comes from continually doing something.” The fruit that the speaker was talking about are the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). These fruits are cultivated in our lives when we consistently make decisions that make us more Christ-like and are in line with the will of God.
By now, we’re over three months into 2019 and my guess is you’re either crushing your goals or maybe not… “Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.” (This Year, Don’t Set New Year’s Resolutions by Ashira Prossack) That’s crazy, right? Except it’s not. Lifelong habits and success in all areas do not come from amazing New Year’s resolutions alone. Good intentions and plans are not enough. They have to be followed up by action and physically moving towards that goal.
Every December I typically spend hours creating calendars outlining Bible reading plans and financial plans, and schedules designed to help me be more productive and successful in the new year. My husband likes to make fun of me for “over complicating” my life with too many calendars. Is that even a thing? I mean, I guess I have an obsession with organization. The truth is, having a plan and seeing all the things I can accomplish feels amazing. But when it comes to actually doing the work, it doesn’t feel as good; it’s hard and uncomfortable and makes me wonder if all the work is worth it.
In my past experience with making goals, there was often this little whisper telling me that it didn’t matter how much work I put in because it wasn’t going to stick and I would likely give up early. Have you ever heard that whisper? Reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite devotionals: brave people don’t stop hearing the whispers of fear. They hear them, but take action anyways.
The life you’ve always dreamed of isn’t found in the comfort zone. Sometimes you have to step out in faith, knowing that God is always on your side and loves to be in the trenches with you. When we rely on Him, even in our fear, our faith will grow.
Now, I firmly believe that we were created with a need to be in relationship with people. We were not made to “go it alone”, despite our culture’s tendency to admire those who try to do everything on their own. We need accountability and encouragement throughout our journey in order to be able to pursue furthering God’s Kingdom and be a people that strive to honour God.
“We don’t grow because of good intentions; we grow because of intentional decisions.”
My intentional decisions
It’s not enough to make plans and have all these good intentions to do things better or to be better. I know in my own life that I want to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit and this won’t happen without actions, even if I have the best of intentions. Here are some intentional decisions I have made so that I can see those fruits begin to grow:
I choose to intentionally show up for myself every day by pressing play on my workouts even when I don’t feel like it.
I choose to show up and spend intentional time with God every morning and read His Word.
I choose to worship God with my actions and my words by being encouraging to others and to myself.
I choose to be prayerful about every decision so that I don’t run ahead of God and His plans for my life.
I choose to be open with those I trust about the areas I am experiencing shame so that it cannot have a hold of me and dictate my actions.
I am so thankful for all the people in my life that are willing to extend forgiveness when I fail and are there to help me get back on track. I am thankful that just because my plans fail doesn’t mean that I am a failure. I am thankful for God’s unending patience and love for me as I learn what it means to become more Christ-like and to walk closely with Him.
One final thought on this topic: hope is not a strategy. It is not enough to make plans and create goals and then hope that that will be enough to motivate you into action. It requires action and intentional decisions to reach those goals and create the life of your dreams. Start small and you will begin to see results and that will help motivate you to continue taking action. Amaze yourself by showing up and being willing to learn and grow and be challenged and you will accomplish amazing things.