What is going to happen to our country in the next four years?
Good question, especially when we have a new president or experience an unusual event. All of us want predictability and order, but we live in a world plagued by chaos and disorder. Just hearing about the changes going on in the world upsets many, but not much bothers me because I live my life according to a few core principles. So, no matter what is going on around me, I maintain a sense of order that makes it possible for me to stay steady. I’ll explain:
- I read my Bible and pray every day.The Bible is the primary way I learn about God, and through prayer my relationship with him comes alive. This dynamic became vivid for me in my teen years as I developed a concern for the suffering church. Knowing how they suffer keeps me from thinking more highly of myself than I ought. I am always conscious of the fact that there are believers in more difficult situations than I have ever faced, and that awareness helps me stay steady and be grateful. Those who have suffered have taught me that time in God’s Word and a dependence upon worship and prayer is more than devotion, it’s my lifeline.
- I am committed to the local church.I believe God established the church, so it’s his, not ours. I’ve decided to love the church because of what the church is, not because of what other people do or say. I show up, I give, I serve, and I love God’s people. Regardless of where I live or the conditions of my personal life, I am a local church guy. It is my primary identity.
- I prioritize relationships.My relationship with God is primary in my life, followed by my relationship with my wife, then my kids, then relatives and friends, and finally strangers. Thus, I have a responsibility to take care of myself — my mental and emotional health, my physical body, and my spiritual life, so I can care for others. So many forget to care for themselves and end up a mess, and that inevitably creates a mess for others. I am responsible for making myself trustworthy and strong. And I know that my wife and I must maintain our relationship in order to experience so much of the goodness life has to offer. So today Gayle and I take care of ourselves, then we cherish our family and friends, many of whom serve with us in the church. With these relationships in order, together we all have the strength to care for the stranger, which helps make the world a better place.
- I Work Hard.Paul instructed the church at Ephesus to work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.It’s an honorable characteristic to work hard, with competence and a good attitude. Being dependable and trustworthy personally and in our work are important traits regardless of any political or economic situation. All of us should have enough self-respect and dignity to take care of ourselves, keep our possessions well maintained, pay our bills, and be generous with others.
- I trust God.I do all I can do, then, I trust God. Five hundred years before Christ, Jerusalem fell and a hostile king took some slaves. Daniel was among the young men taken. The first chapter of Daniel explains some of the training Daniel went through that prepared him to make the best of a horrific situation. He had learned manners and had developed both emotional and physical strength. He maintained his health, did what he could to look his best, studied so he was as well versed as possible in every branch of learning, and developed good judgment. He learned the decorum of royal behavior and understood that these preparations were the only way to be able to capitalize on future opportunities. He did all he could, then he trusted God. As a result, we all know about the successes of Daniel’s life and the miracles he experienced.
That is what each of us can do. We have no guarantees for the future, but we can all prepare and trust so we can capitalize on opportunities that may come our way. We don’t need to know the details of the future, but we can prepare and trust in order to be our best.
I suggest that you consider integrating these core principles into your life, or at least develop your own. Then no matter what happens in the next four years, you can experience a strong foundation, stay steady, and grow as opportunities present themselves. In doing so, you’ll be able to maintain a sense of personal order and peace regardless of what happens in the world around you.
Excellent question. Thank you!
Every January at St. James Church we invite our congregation to submit questions that I then answer impromptu. This is always fun and interesting because it reveals what congregation members are interested in and forces me to reveal some of my personal beliefs and subjective opinions.
The questions are randomly selected during the month of January to be answered publicly. You can find the videos of those services at www.saintjameschurch.com. The questions I didn’t get to in the services will be addressed here and in future blogs at www.tedhaggardblog.com.