Never take the default
For years, fast food restaurants have made a practice of numbering their meal selections. "I'll have the #7, medium drink and fries, hold the onions." The choices are pictured on a large lighted screen behind the counter. Quick, easy to understand, clear price point. All designed to take my money, provide a standard meal offering, and get on to the next customer. It's a volume-driven business model.
Except for my daughter. When she was young, she was incapable of ordering from a menu. There was no such thing as a "value meal" for her. She always seemed to want a little of this, a little of that. A single onion ring (because "I only need a taste"), which, of course, is not how they sell onion rings. Substitute a side salad for the fries ("What kind of dressings do you have?"), a small milkshake instead of a large drink, and make her burger with just meat and a bun with the ketchup on the side in copious quantities. If I wasn't careful, we'd end up paying $9 for her $4 meal, not because she was going to eat more food than the rest of the family, but because she was breaking the business model.
It used to annoy me to no end. Then I realized she was only doing what I had taught all my kids to do: Never take the default. I may not have agreed with the way she applied the lesson, but it's a useful one just the same. If I always order from the menu in life, I only get what the world is offering. It is seldom what I needed, may or may not be what I wanted, and it generally makes my schedule full while leaving my soul empty. We heard it from Ed Winant and Blake Pointer on Friday: Be intentional. Focus on what matters. Develop your ACTion plan. If you missed it, the podcast will soon be posted here: https://www.convoynwa.org/audio/2019/1/6/beginning-with-action. It's worth a listen. Paul puts it this way....
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Phillipians 3:12-14
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. -Ephesians 5:15-17
We'll unpack more of what we heard on "WHY an ACTion plan?" in the next couple of weeks, and get to the what and the how as the year unfolds. If you're new to the conversation, the reason we've spelled ACTion that way is to emphasize what we'll be talking about throughout 2019 - Abiding in Christ, Convoying God's valuables, Transferring our faith. For now, let's focus on Blake's questions at the close of our Friday session - kind of a New Year's resolution, but a little bigger than that.
What did you do to grow in the areas of Abiding, Convoying, and Transferring in 2018?
What will you do to jump start/continue/accelerate that growth in 2019?
To move into the new year with no plan is to take the default, which is characterized by a general passivity and meaningless busy-ness, ignoring weightier matters until all the options have expired and we're left with whatever's left. To express it another way, I'll borrow an idea from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland",
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Never take the default.