Once every four years the machismo of a man takes a brief summer twist. For just a couple of weeks, he no longer sits in front of the television to watch tackles and mud-laden dives. Instead, he goes to the television looking for balance and grace. His lips no longer form the familiar words, “Hit him! Hit him!” Instead a new, peculiar verbiage emerges as he bellows, “Beautiful landing!”
He no longer raises his hands to mimic the celebration of a man who had just hit a home run. Instead, his hands are hoisted high in impersonation of a little girl who just completed the routine of a lifetime. Conversations with his buddies are diverted from a game that requires shoulder pads and helmets to a sport where the only equipment is a skimpy, tight-fitting suit. And crying is permissible as long as it is your nation’s flag that is waving in victory.
The Olympics are truly an amazing spectacle. It’s the pageantry. It’s the flags of the nations. It’s the passion of the athletes. It’s the excitement of your nation going up against the rest of the world. And though most of us are merely spectators, it’s you against them.
But it’s not only the events that mesmerize us as spectators. We watch ten-minute pieces on the daily routine of athletes like Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte: Eat, swim, workout, sleep, repeat. All for the chance at gold.
This is alignment: when we structure our life’s activities and priorities so that the process of the simple life can be accomplished. It is lining up our schedule so that it runs parallel to our heart’s yearning.
A simple life requires us to simplify our time. This begins with eliminating activities that were not part of our declared priorities. World-class swimmers don’t spend valuable time on archery or badminton. They swim. And when they finish, they swim some more.
Like Phelps or Lochte, our first step is to align our daily activities so they move us toward the realization of our purpose as a Christian: to be made into the image of Christ. Alignment takes dedication; it takes sacrifice. But it is necessary.
So how well have we aligned our lives?
Our research indicates that the answer is likely “poorly.” Seven out of ten (69%) indicated they need to change how they use their time each day. In yet another example, we might expect born-again Christians to align their time for priorities that reflect their beliefs. But, among that group;
- only 40 percent pray regularly with their children,
- only 35 percent of the married respondents pray regularly with their spouses,
- and only 30 percent read the Bible together at least once a week.
Not very good alignment.
So how do we overcome poor alignment? What tools do we have at our disposal to use for improvement? The anwer is somewhat obvious: we have one another.
God knows our wiring. He knows that we need someone to encourage us in our personal development. Human existence was never meant to be played in solitude. It is intentionally relational.
If we are serious about changing the way we do time, then we need others who are there, watching our progress. We need a set of eyes that can recognize and verbalize the good and the bad, the aligned and the unaligned.
When choosing that person who will hold you responsible for your actions, be picky. Steer away from family members. It can just get too messy; seek an outsider.
Next, search for someone with similar goals that you are trying to accomplish. If your accountability partner is pursuing similar goals, good. If he has already accomplished what you are moving toward, perfect. Don’t get your workaholic friend to hold you accountable while his own life is totally out of whack.
Finally, make sure the person you choose holds the same values and will not hesitate calling you out when your actions are no longer paralleling your goals. If he doesn’t have the same values, he likely can’t understand your goals. If he is quick to congratulate you but reluctant to verbalize concerns, then you need to seek someone else.
Set specific time intervals in which you will meet or speak: weekly or every other week. And be sure to stay in contact. This is a must.
God has put certain people in your life for this specific purpose. Find them. Approach them. Uncover how a single, open relationship can keep you heading where you desire to go.
Do you have someone in your life that helps you stay aligned?
Modified from Simple Life (2009, B&H Publishing Group)