How much different might our city be if we all worked intentionally to make Memphis a better place to live?
“Intentionality” is an intriguing word that is starting to surface more and more in a variety of social contexts. Dictionaries and wiki articles fail to produce a definition that expresses anything akin to the rich meaning evident to those who are embracing “intentionality” as a philosophy or a practice in some important aspect of their lives.For lack of a better definition, let me express it as “the mindset and practice of consciously cultivating certain behaviors or ways of living to fulfill a designated purpose.”
Intentionality might not seem to be an idea deserving of much attention until we view it in contrast with its alternatives: acting out of habit or convenience, as opposed to acting by deliberate, conscious choice. Viewed in that light, intentionality could be seen as the one attribute that makes the difference between living “on purpose” and living “by accident,” never stopping to consider the consequences of our actions and whether or not our behavior in any way supports what we say we believe or the goals we hope to achieve.
It is so easy to profess that we desire a certain outcome or believe in a certain cause, but our daily routines do not naturally fall into patterns that will support that which we hope to achieve. For instance, many of us say we want to produce less garbage but have not taken any steps to make working toward that goal an established part of our daily activities. We continue to do what is convenient rather than doing the things that could truly make a difference, such as making sure we have sturdy tote bags in the car for our next grocery run. One simple act, intentionally performed, could reduce our overwhelming cloud of plastic grocery bags significantly, even if we remembered to take our tote bags into the grocery store with us only half of the time!
People frequently say they want to spend more time in spiritual reading, but find the chaos of family and household chores leave little time or space for a quiet interlude. Perhaps, during a private lunch break, you have “bopped” yourself on the head and said, “I could have been reading my Bible during this time!” If only you had tucked a devotional book into your purse or glove compartment or downloaded that handy little “Daily Bible” application on your smart phone, you could have had a serving of fresh, spiritual nutrients as easily as you could have had a V-8 if you had bought some while you were at the grocery store.
To live INTENTIONALLY we must first think, and then act.
What is it that you keep saying you need to do but never seem to address? What simple steps could you take right now to move you in the direction of incorporating that new, intentional activity into your daily routine?
Tuck that New Testament into your brief case.
Grab those tote bags accumulating in your hall closet and put them by the back door.
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In the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippian church:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Robert Schnase, in his book FIVE PRACTICES OF FRUITFUL LIVING, addresses the idea of intentionally choosing to do what is necessary to open ourselves to God’s presence and allow God to work through us. There is a group currently discussing this book at 7 P.M. on Wednesday nights at St.Luke’s United Methodist Church, 480 South Highland, Memphis, Tennessee. You are more welcome to join in!
Please share your INTENTIONS in the comments below! We all need the encouragement.