- Do you want to go to college?
- Do you want to get a job working most nights or tryout for the team?
- What will my attitude be towards the school name change?
- Should you take the harder AP course?
- Who will you date? Will you date at all?
- Will you drink, smoke or do drugs?
- Will you have sex before marriage?
- What will you stand for?
- How will I contribute to my community?
All these questions and more were suggested in Covey's book. The paths you choose today will affect your future forever. It will shape you future. It is both frightening and exciting to have so many opportunities and directions to take your life. In his letter to the Romans, Apostle Paul explains there are forces at work in our lives that influence our decisions.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what
that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their
minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8
There is the dark force, that resides in everyone. By reading and hearing the news each day, we can see the horrific things people do to each other because they live to please their sinful nature; their instincts based on natural desires. God says people who are controlled by this nature live in bondage, their true image of themselves and who they would become is tarnished and it leads to death (not just physical death, but a hostility toward God and the loss of dignity as a human being.)
Earlier in the chapter it speaks of how one can break free from the bondage of the dark force and truly become free to be human; one becomes ALIVE as God intended.
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]
2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the
law of sin and death... 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature
but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not
have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in
you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of
righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is
living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
So how does this help us make decisions? When one becomes ALIVE by the Spirit of God, one desires the things God desires. As one spends more time getting to know what is on God's heart; what His agenda is for humanity (which can be read in the Bible, experienced among other follower's of Jesus and in conversation with God in prayer.) One begins to make decisions based of the truth; the principles God has revealed to us to live a joyful and abundant life; a life of peace.
So, when those decisions come a school, friends, sex, alcohol, school, jobs, etc. , know what Jesus would do will help us make the right choices which will get us where we want to be and do in the future.
The 7 Habit training says to create a personal mission statement. It is like a personal motto pr creed that states what your life is about. In my junior or senior year in high school I was challenged to come up with a life verse. I did a lot of reading and searching in the bible. Philippians chapter 3 kept coming to mind as I was doing my search. I memorized verses 5-12 to really let it sink into my head. Then, verse 12 capture the depth of my being:
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made
perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of
This became my life verse; my personal mission statement. It became the organizing principle; my center. The "press on" I could relate to because I am an athlete. In verse 13 it qualifies the intensity of this pursuit by saying, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead... ."
What was the pursuit? Not to follow my natural desires, but to take hold.
Take hold of what? To take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Wow! Jesus took hold of me; called me into his presence; his kingdom for a purpose. It is my mission in life to find out why? to discover the "that". As I strain toward that prize, God has revealed different levels of who I am and what I am to do. The "who I am" or my being is the most important "that" I have discovered in my journey of life. It is because of who God has created in me (my being), I can decide to do those things that please him in any job, task or situation I find myself. In return I find fulfillment and make life better for those around me. I "take hold" of what being human is all about, exercise those gifts and abilities He has revealed who I am to be a benefit others. It is because I have allowed the Spirit of God to show me the "playbook" for life I find joy and peace. I can make the world a better place one moment at a time.
But, like anyone on a journey, I am content but never satisfied. My favorite song from the U2's album, Joshua Tree, "I still haven't found what I am looking for?" is my theme song. I find joy and fulfillment along the journey, but if I stand and dwell on it for to long - I lose sight of the future. If this stage of life is "that" beautiful, I want to keep searching and discover more of why Jesus took hold of me.
Your personal mission statement will be different. It may be a word, a phrase, a statement, a poem, or a song. Read the chapter on Habit 2. Create a mission statement and begin your personal journey. You may tweak it off and on. It will give you clarity of purpose, it will keep you focused on what is important.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. - Philippians 3:12-16