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Years ago, someone told me about a study of older adults. The question asked was, “If they could live their life over again, what would they do differently?” I was so impressed by the question and answers that they became a template for how I wanted to live my life. Here are the top three responses:
I took their responses, ran them through a biblical grid, and came up with the following life plan:
Taking risks without biblical guidance could be the errand of a fool. Taking biblical risks is godly. Christians are not passive or impulsive. Christians are intentional and informed risk-takers. It reminds me of Peter, who was standing on a boat during a dark and stormy night (Matthew 14:28-33).
Christ was asking him to take a biblical risk. Peter was nervous about the offer for obvious reasons. Who walks on water? Peter was willing, but he needed assurance. Thus, he asked, “Is that you, Lord?” An important question. Christian decisions are faith-informed decisions. Once you inform your faith through the means of grace the Lord provides, nothing is left to do but get off the boat. There are four means of grace for faith-informed decisions.
You don’t want to come to the end of your life with a boatload of “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” regrets.
Risk Question – What is God asking you to do, but you’re afraid to do it?
The eternally minded person does not care if he gets a statue erected downtown for pigeons to do their business, but he cares about impacting lives for eternity’s sake. And there is no better way to impact lives than those who are closest to you. This concept is where the stay-at-home mom can refocus. She has the opportunity around her knees to shape little lives that will impact eternity. She’s doing eternal work in her home as she evangelizes and disciples her children for Christ.
Spouses have similar opportunities. We married damaged goods. The fall of Adam hurt our spouses. Other people and poor decision-making also damaged them. One of the most important calls of a spouse’s life is cooperating with the Lord in the ongoing restoration of the person they married.
Eternal Questions – How are you doing at cooperating with the Lord in the restoration of your spouse and children? Have you made ministry or work mistakes?
The scattered brain is the bane of our culture. Our world has succeeded in dumbing down our minds to a tweet, quote, infographic, or video clip. Sitting before the Lord lasts as long as the “water grab-and-go” of a marathon runner. We feed our brains with continuous noise—to the point that there is no such thing as quiet anymore. And if there were a quiet time, it’s more of a crash time. We’re too exhausted to think. We ramp ourselves up to where it’s either 100 percent on or 100 percent off.
I’m not talking about praying. I’m talking about spending time thinking. You take a thought and roll it over and over and over in your mind like a cow chewing cud until that thought masters you. You take your thoughts captive by bringing them to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). That kind of mental discipline is rare for the post-modern mind.
Thinking Question – Do you have a quiet mind? Like Jesus, can you rest in the storms of your life?
Here are a few ways you can apply these three ideas to your life. Ask the Father to give you your thoughts. Make it personal to you. These are suggestive preferences. I’m sure the Lord would love to direct you in a more personal way.
Risk – Write down three things you’d like to do but don’t know how to do them. Maybe it’s overcoming a sin pattern, building a relationship, paying down debt, or making a life change. What are those three things?
Eternity – Who are the closest people within your sphere of influence? How do you need to change to help them change? Write down their names and a few bullet points about what you need to do to better position yourself in a cooperative effort with the Lord to serve them.
Reflection – What hinders you from finding adequate time to think? Without becoming a legalist, how can you change this wrong pattern in your life? I changed by journaling. That may not be a good fit for you, but it worked for me. The process of writing forces me to stop and think. If you don’t learn to stop and think for adequate periods, you will be overcome by the active noise all around you.
If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? Since you are alive, what if you mapped out a plan to do those things?
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).