As part of my new job, we’re encouraged to read through the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and reflect on each of the habits together in scheduled weekly meetings.
Honestly, it’s not something I would ever want to do on my own as I am allergic to all the usual leadership and success-minded literature that permeates our culture. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the principles are derived from the teachings of Jesus.
For example, the first habit involves realizing that we often allow others to control us. The goal is to move from being reactionary – where we are always being manipulated by the desires of others – to being proactive – where we are driven more by our own set of internal values. In other words, our attitudes should not be shaped by circumstances or people, but by an inward decision to be who we already are, regardless of our circumstance.
So, my joy is not dependent upon outward conditions: how much money I have, or how many people like me, or what sort of status I may have in society. Instead, my joy radiates from within and flows out of who I am inside. Because I know I am loved by God, created in His image, called by His name and adopted into His family as His child and co-heir with Christ, my happiness is fixed on this.
I can be in prison, or sitting under a tree in the park and I am content. I can be rich or poor, young or old, healthy or sick and still remain at peace within myself based on who I am inside.
This is what Paul referred to when he said that he had: “…learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
The second habit is to start with the end in mind. Literally, this means to begin by imagining your own funeral. Who is there? What do they say about you? What do you want them to say? In other words, if you want people to stand and say that you were a great friend, that means you’ll need to start being a great friend. If you hope that people will talk about what a loving and kind person you are, then you should start working now on being more loving and kind to people.
Again, this concept is very grounded in the idea of sowing and reaping. If you want good fruit, then you must first make the tree good, as Jesus said. Anyone who plants an apple tree should not expect grapefruit, or vice versa. The way we behave today plants seeds for what our character will be like tomorrow.
Part of working through the book involves writing your own personal mission statement. This isn’t something I would normally ever do, but again I found the process of sitting down to think about it very inspiring.
Here’s what I came up with for my mission statement:“I want to always remind people that they are more beautiful than they imagine and dearly loved by God. I want to use every gift and talent I have been given to reflect the love of God and point people to Jesus who is the best picture we could have of who God really is, and who we are called to be like.”
Have you ever thought about what your mission statement would be? What would you include? I’d love to hear yours if you take time to write it out and share it in the comments below.
Also, what would you want people to say about you at your funeral? What are you doing now to make sure that what they say about you lines up with the impression you hope to make on the people around you?
Share those in the comments if you can.
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Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit to start a house church in Orange County, California where 100% of the offerings go to help the poor in his community.