2 Corinthians 3:3, You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Think of your life’s story as a letter. Think through the purpose of your letter and outline what you want to say. When my wife and I wrote our first draft of our life plan, we captured our purpose and dream. The final plan captured and refined our first draft, but the dream was intact and has remained for 43 years. (We have been married forty five years.) Our Life Plan was a map guiding us forward to a life of joy, family, health, love, and wholeness. We have weathered storms and our dream remained secure. I created an acronym, C.R.A.F.T. to summarize how we wrote our plan.
Capture your dream by writing it down. Take time to fully explore and discover all the dreams you have. Writing will sharpen your thoughts. Use pen and paper at this point. Draw images, doodle, make a graph, a timeline, as well as write. Use your imagination. Writing slows me down enough to think about what I am writing. Drawing or sketching an idea helps clarify it for me too. As you write your first draft don’t edit it, just write. If you edit you interrupt your flow of thought. So what are you dreaming about? (Marriage, family, career, pursuits, travel, volunteering, adventure, a house, relationships, business, ministry, coaching) Everyone needs a dream! God gave you the gift of imagination, use it. Be a child and dream. Be a teenager and dream. Don’t let anyone or any past failures or let downs keep you from dreaming. If you want to know how I know this is true, I experienced plenty of both. A dream will keep you going and growing.
Once you have captured your dream on paper, go for a walk and reflect on your dream. Literally, go for a walk and take a nap. Research reveals that walking increases our cognitive function. Jot down any further thoughts you have. Sleep on it, again your ability to refine or edit your plan increases after rest. Edit as often as you think you should. It’s a refining process that removes everything that would hinder your life’s dream by planning. Is this really your dream or your parents dream for you? If you are married is this a dream you can agree on? Are you willing to pay the price for the dream? Is there a fire in your belly (passion) for the dream? Is this a selfish dream or will your dream be a blessing to others? It is always in the nature of God to love and give. God inspired dreams are not selfish.
Arrange your life plan according to the seasons of your life. What do you want to accomplish in life? It helps me to think in decades. We wrote about life in our 20’s, 30’s, etc. Each decade prepared us for the next. It’s like writing a letter. If you have children then you are in a different season of life than a single person or an empty nester. Colonel Sanders was 65 before he earned his first million dollars. His story reminds me it is never too late to begin your life plan.
Be flexible. Stretching your faith is important. However, the journey of faith is not always in a straight line. Abraham’s journey was very circuitous. Moses led the children of Israel on a forty year journey to the Promised Land. Friends of ours invite us to go sailing with them. Our journey is always flexing according to the winds, currents, and obstacles in the way require tacking or adjusting. It’s not a straight line. You will do the same through the years with your Life Plan. Never, ever, in our wildest dreams did we think we would ever move from our home state of Georgia to Michigan 23 years ago. Our dream remained the same. Our lives changed but our dream didn’t. A Life Plan is a long range plan. Plans always are changing. If you can’t flex and change your dream will die. Be flexible! People, resources, energy, timing are always changing. A body that doesn’t flex becomes stiff and brittle. A plan that doesn’t flex will break down.
My wife and I have been a team. Our children became part of our team. Through the years we invited different people to join our team. Most of them are still a part of our team. Each member of our team is connected to us with a bond of love, trust, wisdom, and purpose. They wanted us to succeed, they were available, consistent, creative, assuring, and full of faith. They helped us solve problems that we could not have foreseen 43 years ago. You need a team of people who love you and want you to enjoy good success.
You can C.R.A.F.T. a Life Plan. If you need help, don’t hesitate to send me a message with your thoughts or questions. God will bless you with good success as you serve Him.
After our first child was born a journalist friend of mine came to see me. We sat on the front porch. He had been praying for me. He observed that I had not changed my pace of life. I was the pastor of a local church, led a successful business, built another business, served as a volunteer for para-church ministry, volunteered in our community, besides the most important roles in my life of husband and father. God used that deeply personal conversation to prevent me from eventually ship wrecking my family. I listened because he loved us, he believed in our dream, and he and his wife are still part of our team 37 years later. This past Sunday night he sent me an encouraging text message with his prayer; brief but powerful.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for Dennis. Surprise him this week with another element of Your goodness. Overtake him with Your kindness. Fill his heart with new joy and clear vision. In the strong name of Jesus.” God has answered that prayer. I believe more and more of His goodness flows into my family’s life daily.
Somewhere someone is praying for you tonight. Someone believes in you and wants to help you succeed in life. I promise that this week, I am praying for you.