It started a year or so ago when I re-read the chapter in Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where he encourages you to “begin with the end in mind.”
At one level, that means begin meetings you go to, or projects you’re working on, by thinking about what the end result should be…spend a little time envisioning what you want to accomplish when it is all over. And then to keep that “end” in mind throughout the meeting or project.
To the degree I remember to apply that principle to meetings and projects, it sure saves a lot of time and energy, not to mention needless squabbling.
Keeping our attention focused on “what matters most” keeps us from getting drawn too far into “the thick of things.”
As Covey says, too often we spend time and energy climbing the ladder we’re on, only to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall.
But Covey’s real point is to begin with THE end in mind -- our end!
And to take a few minutes asking ourselves, “If people were going to say something at the end of your life, what would you like them to say?”
What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember?
What difference would you like to have made in their lives?
That’s beginning with THE end in mind!
Thinking about that makes me realize that we have not one, but several different roles in life. Several different identities.
All of us are sons or daughters. (Even if both your parents are now dead: you may not be playing the role, but you’re still “the son or daughter of __________” – for better or worse, it’s part of your identity.)
Chances are you are a brother or sister. (And if you’re an only child, that’s part of your identity.)
You’re a friend.
You’re a husband or wife, engaged, single, divorced, or a widow(er)…all roles, or identities, based on the institution of marriage.
Many of us are fathers or mothers. Some of you are grandfathers and grandmothers: yet another role, or identity.
You might be a student. Or a teacher.
An accountant. A pilot. A stay-at-home mom. An unpublished writer.
You might be unemployed.
You get the idea. While you are one person, you have multiple roles in life, and -- aware of it or not -- you’re switching between different roles or identities throughout the day, based on who you’re with and what you’re doing.
Here’s what I want you to remember: your most fundamental role, or identity is “one whom God loves.”
The most important thing to remember about yourself, especially when you are frustrated or down, is this: God created you before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
God created you because he loves you.
God has always had plans for you. He has always been working toward you, trying to draw you closer to his loving heart.
God has equipped you (or wants to upgrade your equipment) to help him bring the rest of his creation into its full potential.
I said “all of us are sons and daughters.” And that “you are a friend.”
I mean it. Your truest identity is son or daughter of your heavenly father. And -- because Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, but friends” -- your most fundamental identity or role is also friend: friend of Jesus.
Beginning with THAT end in mind makes all the difference in the world.