Do you long for more than you currently have? No, I’m not talking about money because everyone always needs more (or thinks they do). I’m talking about a longing to have a more fulfilled, maybe even an intentional life.
Do you crave a life filled with purpose, with intention? As Christians, living an intentional life goes a step beyond just satisfying our dreams. It means living in a way that honors God. It means choosing to use our gifts, talents, and abilities to further His kingdom instead of our own.
What Does It Mean to Live an Intentional Life?
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An intentional life is one lived with purpose, on purpose. It’s a life where you know what God has called you to do and are taking steps each and every day to live out your calling. Intentional living has to do with our habits. Good habits help us to achieve our goals as we practice making good decisions about how we spend our time.
What does the Bible say about intentional living?
When we decide to live with intention as followers of Christ, the Bible offers some great principles on how we can live with more intention.
1. Remember God has a plan for you from before you were born.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV).
Maybe God did not appoint you to speak prophecies to a nation in trouble, but the principle remains the same: God knew who you were long before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He knows your talents, skills, weaknesses, and abilities. Even more important, He has a job for you.
2. Your body is the temple of the living God.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV).
Since the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are expected to live in a way that’s different from the rest of the world. We are stewards of our bodies and so we should take care of ourselves. The healthier we are, the more intentional we can be in our lives.
3. Living with deliberation will require effort.
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied (Proverbs 13:4 ESV).
Dreams can only take us so far. Living with purpose requires action, otherwise, we won’t have anything to show for all of our big dreams.
4. Pray about it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
The Bible tells us to pray about everything and that includes the ability to live intentionally. Ask God to help you to make good choices on a daily basis. Ask Him to help you to be deliberate in your purpose. Ask Him to help you to focus on creating better habits. But more importantly, ask Him to help you to keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him.
7 Habits to Live An Intentional Life
Here are 7 habits that can help you to live more intentionally.
1. Practice stillness. The Bible says “Be still and know that I am God (Psalms 46:10). It’s in the stillness that God is able to speak to our hearts, but we have become a people of doing. We are constantly in a state of motion or thinking about the next ten items on our to-do lists.
To live more intentionally, spend a few minutes in silence each day. You can include this time in your morning devotion. Or spend a few minutes in silence observing nature and enjoying the beauty of creation.
2. Focus on your health. Healthy people have more energy to do what God has called them to do. Eat the right foods. Exercise. Drink enough water. Get enough sleep. Spend time with God.
3. Practice gratitude. Having a gratitude attitude will put things into perspective. While there are many things that may not be going the way we hoped they would, there is still much to be grateful for.
Spend a few minutes each day thinking about what you’re grateful for and praising God for them. Take it a step further and keep a gratitude journal. This will give you a resource you can look back on when life gets hard.
Take a gratitude challenge. These usually contain a series of prompts to help you get into a habit of being more grateful.
4. Be kind. Being kind to others can impact the way they see themselves. We can use our words as tools to build up or weapons to tear down.
Extend this kindness to yourself. Be aware of the things you say to yourself and focus on using kinder words. Practice self-affirmation and speak positive words over yourself.
Get a collection of Bible verses and speak God’s truth aloud.
5. Figure out what you believe. If you don’t know what you believe, you won’t be able to make deliberate choices. Spend some time to figure out what your values are and what you want to define you. This process will take some time but the good news is that as Christians, the Bible is a great guide. It teaches us what God expects from us and how we can achieve it.
6. Rest is important. I know we’ve already mentioned the importance of getting enough sleep but the idea of rest transcends the number of hours we spend sleeping. Resting involves giving ourselves space from the things that cause us stress. It means taking a break from physical and mental labor and just taking the time to exist.
7. Learn your purpose. What are you passionate about? What do you believe God has created you to accomplish on earth?
Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal your purpose to you. Do a skills analysis. What skills do you currently have and how do they align with what you’re passionate about?
Read books that provide tips on how you can uncover your purpose. That’s where this resource comes in handy.
An Intentional Life Book Review
I chose this book from Net Galley because I liked the title. I thought it would offer suggestions on how to live a more intentional life. Because you see, I’m a Jonah. I’m a Jonah who runs away from challenges when I want instead to be a Daniel who is intentional in his decisions.
An Intentional Life is not a how-to manual. It’s the story of a woman who has had a lot of experiences that she uses to guide her readers to greater intentionality.
When we think about something that is intentional, we think of something done on purpose or with purpose. Is that the way you’re living your life? Or are you, like me, sometimes sleepwalking through choices and life experiences?
The introduction starts: “Do you ever ache for more?”
Yes! Of course, we do. We want what she has, or at least what social media tells us she does. The noise from the era we live in is so great that sometimes we can’t even hear our inner desires. We have learned to tune out the still, small voice that echoes the desires of our Creator, the dreams that God has placed in our hearts.
An Intentional Life is divided up into three parts: Passion, Purpose, and Presence. As you would expect, each section goes into detail about how each of the three Ps ties into intentional living. Karen invites us to change the way we think about our calling.
No longer should we look at it as something static that takes forever to find and can only be done in the context of our careers. “A calling isn’t a destination,” she says. “It’s a lifestyle.” Are you ready you involve your calling in every aspect of your life?
What Are You Longing For?
Often the desires of our hearts reveal the very thing that we were called to do. As I read this book, God led me through a series of events so that I could realize that something I have been craving from my local church is tied to one of my spiritual gifts.
The desire of my heart points to a ministry that I need to provide for the members of my church.
Know God: An Intentional Life reminds us that when we know who God is, it makes it easier to trust him when he asks us to do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do. He has a lot that he wants to say to us, but we must be quiet enough to hear it.
Know yourself: What’s your personal history? What are the things that shaped you and left an impression on your life? Why do you do the things you do?
Knowing the answers to these questions will go a long way to helping you to understand what drives you now. It will help you to figure out how your personality and life experiences impact the calling that God has for you.
Run your race: A big part of running our race comes from guarding our hearts. If something causes you pain, cut it out of your life.
Instead of allowing the media to cause you to lust after things that you do not have, cut it out of your life. Limit the time that you spend exposed to the things that create envy. Spend more time appreciating what you have.
We Jamaicans love to say, “every tub has to sit down on its own bottom”. All this is saying is that we will all be judged by our own actions. Since this is the case we need to pay attention to the things that we are doing. Satan wants us so distracted that he can draw us into sin.
What if this huge, magnificent impact I dream of making isn’t something I accomplish or build, or do?
-An Intentional Life, Karen Stott
There’s something about the way God works to help us fulfill our purpose: oftentimes we find ourselves doing things we never even imagined. It starts when we say yes. Yes, to the impossible dreams that God has put in our hearts. Yes, to doing things that are greater than we can do in our own strength.
Favorite Quotes from An Intentional Life
“No one is immune to the plans of God. Those seemingly insignificant little inklings that are embedded in your soul were placed there on purpose.”
How many times have we dismissed the things that we desire as unimportant? I don’t mean an ice-cream craving. I mean a desire for something more – for a life lived without fear, maybe. Or for more confidence walking the path that is set before you. It may be time to have a closer look at those desires to see what they’re trying to tell you.
“What derails our destiny most is coveting what we would rather have for our lives instead of being thankful for what God has given.”“What derails our destiny most is coveting what we would rather have for our lives instead of being thankful for what God has given.” #anintentionallife Click To Tweet
Who hasn’t found themselves looking longingly over into someone else’s lane? But that kind of hankering only leads to discontent and envy. It shifts our focus from looking at God and staring instead at the beautiful but dangerous pleasures of the world.
“You can’t live in your mission or walk in your calling if you don’t know what it is, where you’re going, or the steps you need to take to get you there.”
I have tried to do this. I have a vague idea of where I want to go but no clue as to how I am going to get there. Without a plan or small, measurable goals, a mission begins to feel more like a suicide mission than a calling.
“When God speaks a direction in our lives, the enemy will quickly come and bombard us with many other voices to cause confusion and derail us from our destinies.” This is why Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice.”
If we don’t know that voice of our Master, it becomes very difficult to determine what comes from him and what is meant to be a distraction. Therefore, it is important to spend time getting to know the character of God. As we work on our relationship with him we learn which desires come from him and which ones come from the enemy.
“What’s your alternative ending?” This reminds us that once we have life we have hope. We can choose another path, a better way. Too often we believe the lie that our lives are set in stone. We think that because we’ve always done something a particular way, we have to keep doing it that way “because”. Karen reminds us that if something isn’t working for us we have an opportunity to change it.
This was a good read. It showed me how to look at my calling in a slightly different way. A way that makes me see that I have been walking in my calling all along. And because I now understand what it is I can embrace it instead of shying away from it.
Have you read An Intentional Life? What did you think about it? I received a free copy of the book from Net Galley; a positive review was not required.
About An Intentional Life
A joy-filled life is possible…And you can have it right where you are.
Those desires that tug on your heart and keep you up at night—the big dreams, grand adventures, new experiences—require purpose and planning, time and effort. Is it possible to follow your passions while still finding joy and meaning where God has you right now?
With the voice of a close friend, Karen Stott offers insight and inspiration from her story of juggling motherhood and multiple businesses while leading Pursuit, a global entrepreneurial community. You will be empowered to…
prepare space in your day for the endeavors that matter most to you and yours
discover clear ways to keep your home, family, and work in a healthy balance
enjoy fresh moments of grace and gratitude as you make sure you are in your life
If you are aching for more than a cycle of never-ending demands and not-enough peace, be inspired by how God can help you discover your purpose and cultivate An Intentional Life.
About Karen Stott
Writer, photographer, and visionary, Karen Stott uses her creative gifts to encourage women to lead lives of intentionality while cultivating joy in their business and home environments.
After nine years in the business of wedding photography, working alongside her husband of 14 years, Isaac, Karen was led to create Pursuit Community for other creative business-women juggling all of their roles.
Now with over 10,000 members and bi-annual conferences, Pursuit is a growing community of women creatives and solopreneurs empowering one another to find the balance in faith, family, and business. Karen resides in the Northwest with her husband and 3 kids.
Connect with Karen on her website, Pinterest or Instagram.
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