Friday, September 11, 2009

Begin with the End in Mind

"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." Daniel 12:13

When Daniel received this word from God, he had just been given a revelation about the end times. But as with many of those revelations, he didn't understand much of what he saw. He was trying to be a diligent God-follower and "get it right" but you can imagine the frustration when the pieces God was sharing didn't quite make sense. Daniel wanted to understand the "how" of the prophesy but in the end God was more interested in him focusing on the "why" and the "what now".

Then, as the last verse in the book of Daniel, God tries to calm Daniel down and focus him. I love the line "go your way till the end." God had shared what would happen in the end and why it must happen, now Daniel was supposed to live out his faith with expectation of that end.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we were talking about innovation in organizations. He shared with me an exercise he did during his masters studies that captured my imagination. The professor told the class that they should pick an age at which they think they might die (75, 80, 85, etc). Then he asked my friend and the rest of the people in the class to work their way backwards to today and try to plan out the goals they had for their lives.

My friend shared how powerful this exercise was to define values, goals and priorities. What is so special about beginning with the end in mind? Well for one it clarifies the picture quickly. When time is flowing out in front of us, then it seems like we have all the time in the world to accomplish what is on our heart. But when we start at the end and work back to today, then we have a limited space of time that we must invest wisely based on God's call on our lives.

This exercise also helps us to think through next steps. If we know where we are trying to end up, then it is easier to break it down and think through all the pieces that must come together. For example, if your goal is to innovate in how member care is carried out for missionaries from new sending countries, then you can begin to think through what experiences you must have to understand the challenges and the victories. You can think about the education you need. You can decide about the mentors you need in your life. Finally, you can think through the time it will take to build the relationships and connections that will give you a say in that particular area.

The amazing thing about this exercise is that a life becomes much shorter than we would ever imagine. From where many people sit, life flows out in front of them and there seems to be enough time to do just about anything. But when we really count our days and ask God to help us see how we should spend them, they become much more limited than we would ever realize.

As you consider the innovations that God has put on your heart, are you beginning with the end in mind? God promised Daniel that if he went his way based on all he had heard then he would receive an inheritance. What is "the way" that God is calling you to? Will you measure it and invest it for the Kingdom?


Chinzorig said...

Yea...I just thought about my imaginary end age and feel little scared and sad, but it is awakening.

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...

You are right, it is very challenging to put our lives in perspective and match them to the things God has put on our hearts.

One thing I have realized with the exercise is it makes us more dependent on Jesus because we realize how short our time to serve Him really is.

Blessings as you innovate!