Richard Rohr once wrote that, “The skills we learn in the first half of our life do little to help us in the second.” In 2017, Lizeth and I did a retrospective and realized the words that define us now are not the words we hope will define us when we’re surrounded by those closest to us at the end of our lives. I took great pride in my 20’s in being defined as a responsible, productive, efficient, hard-working, deadline meeting, faithful, loyal, company man… None of those things are bad, and Rohr would say they are essential in early career-building and life-building… But it’s what was missing from the list that bothered me. The words I hope to hear at my funeral are: Faith-filled. Risk taker. Dreamer. Adventure seeker. Kind-hearted. Joyful. Peaceful. Man of prayer. Someone who lived the same truths in private that he did in public.
The Psalmist once wrote,
“Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom” – Psalm 90:12 NIV
So in 2018, we’ve chosen to engineer our lives to make the most of the short time we have. We are praying big prayers, because God isn’t honored by small ones. We are taking risks, because God is most pleased with us when we are walking in faith. We are taking time to love those who can do nothing for us in return, because that’s simply the kind of people we want to be. We are choosing to not be ashamed of our outlandish dreams, because we serve a God who uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Write down the words you want to be known for and you want to be defined by. Then ask God, “What’s something I can start tomorrow to move in that direction?”
Just as God creates things with His words, our words are creative — Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Turn the list you just made into declarations to speak over yourself daily. Then choose a scripture passage that supports it, because our words are most powerful when they are aligned with His. For example, here’s two of the confessions I speak every morning:
“God speaks to me, face to face, as a man with his friend”
(which comes from Exodus 33:11 NIV).
“I am debt free, and free to be generous”
(a promise for God’s covenant people in Deuteronomy 28:12 NIV, that we would be the lender and not the borrower).