I use the word intentional a lot in describing how to live out the Christian life. It means “done on purpose or deliberate.” I use it to describe how we should engage in the spiritual formation process, evangelism, making disciples, and stewarding all of our resources to glorify God. I use it frequently because intentionality is a key factor in all of these areas. I am a firm believer in the idea that the kind of spiritual formation, evangelism, discipleship, and stewardship that we strive toward won’t happen to us simply by accident. They require a plan of action and then require us to follow through on that plan.
It can be difficult to know how to be more intentional so here are some suggestions to help us be more intentional with our faith.
Prayer: We can’t manufacture intentionality through our own strength or willpower. We need God to grant us the desire for it and to grant the power to sustain it. We can do it on our own for a little while, but eventually, without God, we will find our own energy to be lacking. So, we pray. we ask God to give us the desire to be intentional about our attitude, our behavior, and our habits. And, we ask that he will help us sustain our efforts. In essence, we need God to help us clarify what we need, the desire to follow through, and the strength and energy to sustain the effort.
Mentors: We are not on the spiritual journey alone. We have brothers and sisters in Christ that are on this journey with us. There are people in your church or in churches in your community that can help you on this journey. There are folks who have lived a lifetime of faithfulness full of wisdom and advice to help you get to where you need to go. Find a mentor or mentors that can help you work through developing intentionality. They can give you advice, but can also help keep you accountable. Accountability is an important part of any faith journey. We need others to speak the truth into our lives. If you are struggling to find a mentor, pray that God will reveal someone to you. Ask your pastor or someone in leadership at your church for help.
A Culture of Intentionality: As I just mentioned, we can’t do this alone. We need others to help us. One of the best tools to help us be more intentional is a system or culture in our church that promotes intentionality and follow-through. If your church doesn’t have a culture of intentionality, you can do one of two things. One, you can find a church that does have that kind of culture. Or, you can help create that kind of culture in the church you are in. Both options have positives and negatives. Both require work and change. But, if we want to be intentional with our faith, we need to be part of a culture that promotes it.
Don’t Give Up: There will be times where you are tempted to be less intentional. times when you are busy or your margins for good habits are very small. There will be times when you are uncertain that your efforts are worth it. Don’t give up. If you fail, start over. If you struggle, keep going. Don’t give up. Paul uses the idea of the Christian faith as a race. Sometimes the race is difficult and we don’t think we can make it. Paul urges us to press on. The author of Hebrews says the same thing, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. Persevere - Don’t give up.
Questions for Reflection;
What do you want to be more intentional about with your faith?
How can you encourage someone else to be intentional?
What habits might you need to establish to help you?
What areas might you need to persevere through to continue the race?