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Intentionality: A Two-Way Victory

Posted by on Jan 30, 2016 in Blog, Food for Thought, Quotes | 2 comments

bridge 2It’s hard to believe that January has already come to an end and I can’t help wondering…How many individuals have already “come to an end” with their month-old New Year’s Resolutions? I also can’t help wondering…Why? Is it due to procrastination? Laziness? Has a person simply lost interest? Or is it from setting too high an expectation? Rather than face failure, perhaps it’s easier to simply ignore what has become self-inflicted misery. Either way, I refuse to make any more resolutions, having failed to fulfill far too many in the past. Having said that, however, I have to admit that I did determine, privately, to make a greater effort to follow through on some good intentions.

Out of curiosity, I googled good intentions—expanding to include being intentional—and discovered a multitude of thoughts, quotes and web sites on the very subject. One author stated: “…pity is the feeling of well-intentioned people who are unable to act…It is those who are able to carry out their good intentions who deserve praise”  (Indonesian author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 1925 – 2006).

But then I read: “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions”  (British, American-born essayist, Thomas Stearns Eliot 1888 – 1965).

I wonder if T.S. Eliot had people like me in mind when he made that statement!

Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus (21st Century Edition) defines intention as “a purpose or goal.” Most of us would agree that having a purpose or goal in life can be very motivating, and even more so, gratifying, when success in reaching that goal is experienced. But as my thoughts revolved around this word and its derivatives (intentional, intentionally), I came to the conclusion that as much as I may have good intentions to do this or that, I would never succeed unless I disciplined myself to do whatever it is that I intend to do and, more importantly, that I included God in my intentions!

As I fall asleep at night I often consider my plans or goals for the next day and what I intend to do with them during the next seventeen hours or so God will give me. I make a mental list and I fall asleep smiling at the thought of such good intentions. Then morning comes. A night storm has covered the ground with a foot of snow, the wind is blowing without mercy, my car is covered in ice and my good intentions go out the window. Very easily. Very quickly. Without a second thought.

So much for being intentional.

So what’s the secret? I think it begins in the heart, not the head, and certainly not as one indulges in all-too-often unrealistic plans as one falls asleep! You know what they say about “the best laid plans of mice and men.” They often go left! But better still, Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

In truth, the bottom line is quite simple: Good intentions are only good if we follow through with righteous actions in obedience to God, i.e. being intentional for God. Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714), an English non-conformist clergyman suggests why this should be our primary objective:

God has wisely left us in the dark concerning future events, and even concerning the duration of life itself….We know not what shall be on the morrow. We may know what we intend to do and to be, but a thousand things may happen to prevent us. We are not sure of life itself, since it is but as a vapour, something in appearance, but nothing solid nor certain, easily scattered and gone…We can fix the hour and minute of the sun’s rising and setting tomorrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour’s being scattered. Such is our life: it appears but for a little time, and then vanishes away.

Being intentional in living the life God has given us—however long it is—can only result in a two-way victory when we live intentionally for Him. God gets the glory and we receive His blessing. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” If we discipline ourselves to be intentional in living our lives in such a way that we bring honour and glory to God above all else—including our own good intentions—those desires in our heart will come from Him and He will align them with His will for our lives.

Don’t just choose the word “intentional” as a goal for 2016, live it!






Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Heather Joyes.

    GREAT piece, Ruth. Love the “thought, intention and energy” you have put into this thoughtful, well organized essay. Well timed too.

    For the past number of years I think of and choose a resolution. To ensure that it stays with me I will write it in a journal and refer to it throughout the year. One year, although some may not see it as a resolution, the thought and intention is in the phrase, “There are no shortcuts.” You may smile, and at times I would wryly think of it when I didn’t follow it.

    Your essay reminded me of something I wrote in a journal a few years ago after speaking with Jack Chubb. Thought/idea-a mentally intentioned proposition. Intention/plan, purpose, design-a determination to act in a certain way. Energy/power, motion, movement-flows through all people. God’s energy, thoughts, intentions flow through all people.

    This year, for the first time, it is my intention to continue the one I set out last year, “pray, simplify, praise, serve, (PSPS,) I am reminded by the short verse written by C. Rossetti,
    “Tune me, O Lord, into one harmony
    With You, one full responsive vibrant chord,
    Unto Your praise, all love and melody,
    Tune me, O Lord.”

  2. Carol Ford

    I can certainly relate. I beat myself up (figuratively) with my lack of discipline and consistency. Thanks, Ruth

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