Empowering Routine: Getting better over time. Part 2.
I was a bit of an anarchist in my school-age years. I’m not sure i’ve gotten it all out my system yet, either! I thought, “I’m an artist! ‘The man’ is trying to squash my creativity, making me wake up to a box-alarm clock so I can be on time to a box-school and sit in a box-classroom at a box-desk! I need to be freeeeeeeeeeee! Free to stay up till 3:00am and sleep past noon so I can sit around in my bathrobe and be inspired!”
One wife, five kids, a couple of decades and a whole lot of life-experience later and I have learned that healthy routine can actually empower me to achieve what God has put in me!
Seize the day (or the day will seize you!)
Something I have only discovered in recent years is the power to decide how my day will begin. I’ll be vulnerable with you guys: like many creatives, along with my artistic “package” came a natural slant towards melancholy and depression. For years I woke up wondering how I would feel that day. Would it be a good day or a bad day? Not long ago, someone told me that I have the power to decide that. Sick of being at the mercy of my feelings and environment, I decided to believe it!
Now, my day begins with a declaration. The very first words I allow to cross my lips are “I live in a state of heavenly abundance and infinite possibility!”
Positive thinking mumbo jumbo? Read your bible!
“...and [He] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6
I AM seated with Christ in heavenly places! That means I live my life from heaven to earth. It’s IMPOSSIBLE for me to be depressed in heaven!
“...who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3
EVERY spiritual blessing!!! I lack NOTHING! All things are possible!
I don’t just mumble my declaration, I say it with conviction, with energy, engaging my whole body. Do I always feel like it? I don’t ask that question anymore. It’s irrelevant. I’ve decided how I want my days to begin and that’s final!
It ain’t real until it’s on the calendar!
I’m a dreamer. I love to talk about the possibilities! “We should totally write a worship song together!” “This relationship is really important to me, let’s hang out more!” “I’m gonna start writing my book! Yeah! Really soon! Definitely!”
I have learned that it is all talk until there is a date on the calendar! Now, this assumes that you actually have and use a calendar!!! I am shocked by how many people in ministry make commitments and don’t record them in a calendar! I guess I shouldn’t be shocked because I used to be one of them! As I got busier in life and ministry I started to notice the strain it placed on my brain: I was requiring my mind to keep all those “programs” running in the background. Like a smartphone, there are only so many “apps” or appointments my mind could keep open. Apps started crashing and I began missing appointments. ¡No bueno!
Then, I realized I did not need to tax the CPU of my brain with the menial task of remembering appointments! I had a computer IN MY POCKET that could do that for me! These days it’s SO easy that all you have to do is say, “Hey Siri!” (or whatever evil robot you Android users talk to!) “Make an appointment for me!” Say the date, the time, the place, who you’re meeting with, even set a reminder alarm for 10 minutes, an hour or a day before! Of course, if you want some exercise you could enter all of this manually with your thumbs!
Seriously guys, if you don’t do this already, start a routine of entering every appointment in your calendar. You will be surprised and grateful for the space it frees up in your brain to focus on other things, AND you will honor others by making your appointments on time.
This is so important, even for our creative endeavors. The ONLY reason I was able to have a hand in writing a powerful worship song like “Here and Now” is because a few friends and I decided we wanted to stop talking about writing songs and start doing it! We put a standing appointment on the calendar to meet and write together. I can’t say this strongly enough: put your creative goals on the calendar. Real dates, times and places with real people, really DOING things -not just talking!
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
I hate running! I mean, running just to run… like, not actually to get anywhere or to save my life from a wild beast. I enjoy physical activity like hiking and, strangely, chopping wood. “Exercise”? Not so much. But…
Most of us read the above Bible verse and stop right after the “but” (he said “but”!) We’re like, “Yeah! Take that Physical Training! You’re not as important as spiritual stuff!” But, we’re missing the point. Physical training IS of some value. Stop there for a moment.
We are whole beings, created in God’s image, spirit, soul and body. A lot of Christians think the body isn’t important because we’re going to leave this lousy “tent” and go hang out in heaven forever! Again, read your bible. You’re going to have a BODY forever. Granted, a super cool, upgraded, resurrected body! And the body you have now is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
I did not like exercise and I DID like sugar and grease and other stuff “they” say is not so good for you! But, I started to notice the effects on my body, my thoughts and my emotions. I lacked energy, my mind got negative and foggy and my feelings were leading me, instead of vice versa. I decided that to fulfill my calling I need an abundance of energy, I need a clear, sharp mind and I need to be in control of my emotions. I decided I wanted those things badly enough to actually do something about it. So, I exercise.
I got myself a little elliptical for $20 (yay, craigslist!!!) and 5 times a week I spend 30 minutes exercising. But, I don’t just exercise my body: I exercise my “godliness” too!
WHILE I huff away on the elliptical, I work my way through the “Lord’s Prayer”. I make it very interactive. I say, “Our Father. I have a Father! YOU have adopted me!... Who art in heaven. You have given me a HOME: Heaven! I am seated with You in Christ Jesus!”
This is what I do and it is bearing tremendous fruit for me. Not only do I have the energy I need, but I am gaining mastery over my mind and emotions. I want to urge you to create a routine that empowers you to advance in your calling. Commit to interacting with the Word of God through the Bible on a regular basis. I have to say, I am concerned for our generation (that means everyone alive right now) of worship leaders and musicians: I wonder if our value for the scriptures is on the decline. It’s ok, actually, exciting, if the expression of that value changes! There’s nothing sacred about the “quiet time” or “devotional” format. What is sacred is the Person Who is the Word. We cannot authentically lead others in His praise if we do not regularly lead ourselves to His feet.
Seize the day: How do you want to start your day? Can you write an empowering sentence that would set the tone for the next 24 hours?
Put it on the Calendar: Right now. Put one appointment on the calendar. Something you know you are going to do anyways. Just start the habit and then do the next one!
Exercise routine: is there some kind of physical exercise that would not make you despair of life? Maybe walking Or, if you’re a weirdo, running! And how about your spiritual muscles? What is a spiritual exercise routine that you could get excited about right now?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!