‘I have talked and written at length in articles for this magazine about the lifestyle choices that my wife and I have made for our family, but I feel it would be appropriate to spend some time on why we make those choices. Having a purpose in your decision is as important as the decision itself.
Here are some of the decisions that we have made that affect our daily routine:
1. We do not borrow money for anything, for any reason.
2. We will not buy new products unless the situation calls for it after careful study and a mutual decision.
3. We currently have all of the clothing that we need. If we need something new (replaced), we will remove the old item and replace it with the new one.
4. We will find ways to leave our car in the driveway whenever possible. When we can walk as a family, we do. When we can send one person in the small car, we do.
5. The value of our careers will be less than the value of our family time. This includes leisure time, church volunteering, doctor’s appointments, sicknesses, and just taking one day off a month for our family.
Now, all of these things are the products of hard learning experiences and intense conversations between my wife and I and our trusted friends and family. The point is not the specific decisions that we have made, but why.
My wife and I started going to church together shortly after we got married. After attending several different churches, we decided that we would try to follow Jesus. It seemed like a better idea than going to church, though. In the end, we found that it was harder to do without church. There is a saying, “Going to church no more makes you a Christian than having a garage makes you a mechanic.” This is absolutely true. I have, however, attempted working on my car in the driveway, while it was cold, with a pair of pliers and some screwdrivers. I choose the garage, with all the other mechanics and tools.
Our journey walking in the footsteps of Jesus has lead us to the decisions that we have made. Debt crippled us, enslaving us to our lifestyle so that we had no opportunity to listen when we prayed and asked for help. The zeal for stuff creates a haze around your understanding of the world, and it is specifically warned against in the teachings of Jesus. John the Baptist said “If you have two coats and you don’t need one, give the second to your brother in need.”
We see the disregard for our environment all around us, and we want to minimize our impact. Once we were relieved of our debt and our lifestyle issues, we were free to spend more time together, and we realized that we get along pretty well. We see these things as the essence of the teaching of Jesus, and we make decisions based on how we feel our walk might be honoring those teachings.
Not everyone makes decisions for Jesus, and not everyone has to. It is our purpose. We like the term “intentional.” I have almost worn it out. It has been the mantra for our lifestyle change, “Do what you do on purpose.” Everyone’s list will be different, because everyone has a different purpose. The mistake, I think, is making decisions without purpose. That is how we lived before we adopted the word “intentional” as a member of the family. Do you ever look around and think “What the hell happened to my life?” I have. It is a hard thing to face, knowing that you have an idea of how you want to live and it is elusive, out there waiting for you to get things together.
This is the inherent problem with saying that the things that we do are just responsible living. They are responsible, and there are others who claim no faith or religion that do the same things we do and reap similar benefits. None of those other people are doing those things on accident, though. They have a purpose. It is the default decision maker, the encouragement in times of weakness. Is your purpose simply to retire early? Great! Now you have some decisions to make and some things to do. How about having a million dollars in the bank? That is purpose. Perhaps your purpose, your intent, lies in propelling the human race forward. A lofty goal; how do you live out that purpose? What are the decisions that you have to make to get it done.
I am not talking about goal setting. There is another motivational saying, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” I like it, but I am not talking about setting short and long term goals. I am talking about lifestyle, and you can only define that when you identify a purpose, only then can you be effective in setting goals and realizing dreams.
With the risk of sounding too cliche -do what you do on purpose. Then making mistakes will be about making the right mistakes, and they will carry you forward.
Man, this is like a public service announcement (brought to you by the folks at The Fireside Post.)