Whether you like it or not, the fall season is upon us. Through the years, I have seen people have three different reactions to this faster paced, activity-full season.
The first is those that are completely overwhelmed. As school is beginning, sports are starting and generally the city starts bustling with activity. Many feel over their heads just trying to respond to all of the demands. As the fall winds of activity blow, they just try to hold on for dear life as they get blown from one event to another.
The second group are those who are actually frustrated and put off by the demands of this more fast-paced season. They resent the changing of seasons and wish that all of life could be like the more slow paced, less-focused summer lifestyle. (Although I can sympathize with this perspective, it was God himself that created the seasons! [ie. Ecclesiastes 3:1]).
Then there is the third group that faces reality and looks the fall straight in the eyes and runs toward it with purposeful determination. You probably don’t have to guess which response I believe to be the God honoring one!
My dad was a college defensive football player. When he was preparing me for football, he consistently told me something over and over again: “It always hurts less to tackle someone if you are running with all your might toward them”. What I have seen in life is that the converse is also true: if you are just waiting for the ball carrier to come to you, you will most likely get steamrolled. If you get hit standing still, you will be on your backside, gasping for air, just hoping you can get back up again.
I have learned that I can apply Dad’s football principle to coming into a fast paced season. I don’t want to get steam rolled by the next season. If I run toward the season, I won’t get knocked down by all the demands, expectations, and activities that will certainly come my way.
That is why I live by the “Three P’s of Preparation” for a new season. I encourage you to study them and apply them to your life before the fall is underway.
Personal Retreat The best type of management is self management. You need to know what God is calling you to in the next season of life. There are so many things we need to work on and improve in it can be overwhelming. That is why it is important to know specifically what God is calling us to work on in the next few months. We can then focus on those things and then know that we have honored the Lord in that season.
I always take a day (or at least a half day) off and get alone with God. My purpose is to seek Him and inquire of what He is calling me to in each of my roles that I play in life.
Here is how I do it:
- I go to a quiet place (usually for me it is sitting under a big tree in the woods)
- I turn off my cell phone
- I spend some time first worshipping God and connecting with His heart
- Then I write down each role I fulfill
- I ask God to speak to me about what He is wanting me to work on in that role and any practical activities He is calling me to do
I call this a personal compass. Below is an example of what someone’s personal compass could look like:
Child of God
Read through Nehemiah
Pray for 30 minutes a day
Listen to God and journal every morning.
Ask more questions to understand my wife’s heart
Set consistent date night
Be diligent to practice reading with the kids
My second child needs more physical affection
My third child needs more consistency in discipline.
Work on quicker response to email
More disciplined in frequent communication
Reach out to Sam my coworker who is hurting
Focus on Tim and Tom in this season
Run 5 times a week
Get 7-8 hours of sleep
It is critical to know that God has anointed us as parents to lead our children. We need to seek the Lord on behalf of our children to know what activities our children should be involved in. Our children are like snowflakes; there are no two snowflakes that are the same in the world. We need to custom craft their development plan so that they can be all that they are called to be. If we don’t do this, we will either have them over-involved (as in our society where opportunities are endless) or underdeveloped (as many spend the majority of the day consuming inordinate amounts of media).
I think and pray through each child and ponder the major areas of their lives: spiritual, relational, intellectual, physical and musical (every family might not have that last one). Then I try to have practical plans for helping them develop in these areas.
The older the children are, the more you want them to partner with you in this creating this plan. However as long as your children are in your home, I believe we should never abdicate our responsibility in shepherding them toward their God-given potentials.
In order to have a God honoring week, we need to have a good plan for how we will spend our days. In today’s world where we live with engagements that have clear beginning and ending times, it’s imperative to keep a personal calendar to keep our activities before us.
For singles, a planning meeting could be a half-hour alone with your calendar on Sunday night or Monday morning looking at your calendar to make sure you are prepared for all of the activities for the week.
For married couples, I find spending thirty minutes to an hour on Sunday nights dramatically decreases the stress in our house. When Stef and I can talk through the week’s activities, we better diffuse the responsibilities of our household and can therefore avoid letting each other down at the last moment because we both thought each other was “taking care of it”. We have also found that nothing can burn us emotionally like having an obligation that we remember last minute. By looking at the meetings for the week, we can better pace ourselves, and we can know when to run and when to rest.
As a part of a focused spiritual community, All Peoples Church, I love the fall because it is always a time of taking ground. The fall is a time where we reach out to new people and a time where we launch new initiatives to care for the poor and hurting. Additionally, it is always a time for our family to jump back into school and sports and learn new skills. I pray this fall we will all be prepared as we implement these disciplines so that we can reach new heights in the great calling God has for each of us.