Forget the Flow; Go with Your Intentions

I spent last weekend in the mountains, hanging out with a bunch of coaches and others who do transformational work: counselors, spiritual directors, chaplains. This was my first time attending the annual summit of WayPoint Coaching Community, a Christ-centered community of professionals who have a passion to increase the impact of metamorphic coaching and coaching skills training in the church. I’m excited to be part of this group, which is one of those rare places in life that feels like home for me: like-minded people with strong vision and passion for how our work can deepen people’s faith and support their surrender to what God wants for them.

Believe me, there was a whole lot of intention in that place. These are people who have dedicated their professional lives to making a big difference by deepening one life at a time, regardless of the discouraging odds against one life changing the tide. These are people strongly committed to their own sense of purpose. I believe in the power of this group’s intentions to help the church become a community of healthier, stronger, more resilient people who operate regularly in the strength of God’s love for the world. It was compelling to be among them, imagining with them what is possible as we follow our calling.

But the intentions of people who are professionally intentional are not the only ones that matter. In fact, your intentions are as powerful as anyone else’s.

If you intend to live for pleasure or comfort or coming out on top, that’s what you will do. And it will make you–and a lot of other people–miserable. If you intend to keep everyone else happy, you will die trying. If you intend to hide your head and wait for the world to go by, you will spend your whole life waiting and living in fear. If you intend to hand your destiny to someone else and give that person the power to determine who you are, where to go, and what to do, that is exactly what will happen–even if that person is taken from you. If you intend to live in response to God and intend to discover who he made you to be, your life will probably turn upside-down. If you intend to make your life count and to live with purpose, you will have a good impact on this world, whether you see it or not. If you intend to treasure the people around you and build healthy, life-giving relationships, you will bless generations to come.

Caught up in streams that flow toward inevitable destinations, gasping through water in our faces and trying to avoid the rocks, it’s easy for us to forget that we’re all capable of carving the landscape. We don’t have to be part of the prevailing current. We all have the opportunity to consider the way we want the world to be and to live a life that works toward it.

Let me be clear: I’m no cockeyed optimist. In fact, I wouldn’t call myself an optimist of any sort. I don’t really believe any one person–save Jesus Christ–has the power to change the world. Most of us don’t have complete control over our circumstances or our own behavior, let alone the power to change the people in our lives. But I do believe individuals have the power to start movements, and I know for sure that we cause ripples in the water when we stop flowing with the stream. If we lack the capacity to reverse the water’s flow, that’s no reason to give ourselves over to moving with it. Living deep, listening well, speaking truth, and being our authentic selves are worth doing–even if all we accomplish is that we get to the end of our lives knowing we did not mindlessly float on whatever came our way and we made it a little easier for someone to follow in our wake.

Granted, this is not an easy way to live. In fact, it can be painfully hard. But if we want the world to be different, we have no excuse for taking the easy road. You have no excuse for holding your feet up off the ground or climbing aboard someone else’s raft. It’s time to declare your own intentions. It’s time to start being with purpose. And when you do, you might be surprised at how many people are willing to stand with you.

So what are your intentions?

  1. Joni Condron says:

    Just what was needed this morning Amy been trying since college and at 59 and a host of thorns its encouraged me to keep depending on the love I know God has for all of us even when those I try to pass this good news forward to are in deep waters. Yay for your insight and passion. God is able to make all grace abound toward us through his riches in Christ Jesus. Is a life changing work one life one day one moment at a time including my own!

  2. Robyn Mulder says:

    Wow! I missed this when it first came to my inbox, but I’m glad I read it now. Just what I needed to hear…God has been showing me that I haven’t been very intentional about my life lately. I have ideas and feel God leading me to do certain things, but I’m not doing the things I need to do to accomplish His plans. Thanks for this great post! The river analogy was especially helpful, especially the line about climbing in someone else’s boat. Thanks, Amy! ~Robyn

© 2015 Amy Simpson.