4: Living by design

 

As I have reflected on what it takes to learn to live life by design rather than improvisation or happenstance, I have discovered that the single biggest obstacle is the need to rewire the brain, so to speak, to adopt a new way of thinking.

We must abandon the deceptive, sterile freedom offered by a lack of accountability, and adopt the discipline of living according to a blueprint, a well-delineated vision that establishes clear borders and imparts order and sequence to an otherwise unruly reality. We must be willing to trade a certain amount of freedom for effectiveness and a sense of purpose. We must also learn to live by principle rather than emotion. We must submit to a system, a set of previously declared guidelines that come to guide our actions and choices. This, I believe, is what the Lord means when He instructs Habakkuk to “write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Visions, once written down in clear, specific language, should offer clear boundaries for the race of life, should assist us in the choices we make, and even in determining the sequence of those choices.

The formulation of a strategic plan, and its subsequent execution, require this kind of disciplined thinking on the part of the Church in Massachusetts. The only way institutions journey successfully through a strategic plan is by a) employing some sort of collective approach from the outset, b) analyzing honestly the existent reality, c) formulating a desired reality, d) establishing clearly a set of goals, objectives and actions, and e) adhering with fierce determination to the agreed-upon blueprint. Over years of attempting to remain faithful to a declared strategy a new culture is created, a new modality of collective thinking is internalized, and a much more powerful way of living results. Regardless of what specific actions and goals are adopted by us, I believe this basic pattern must be prevalent.

For the Master Plan to work, I believe that ministries and individuals will need at some point to enter into a covenant. They will need to commit a portion of their time and energy to the prescriptions of the Plan, to set aside certain hours and efforts to participate in agreed-upon activities and initiatives. The required sense of unity and esprit de corps for this endeavor to become effective can only be achieved by a disciplined adherence to the elements that come to constitute the Plan. As the participating people and institutions work with each other and begin to see results, the necessary cohesiveness and enthusiasm will begin to emerge. At the beginning, however, the stimulus for sustained participation will have to come from sheer, disciplined recognition of the legitimacy of this approach, and from a determination to “follow the program” in order to give it full opportunity to demonstrate its adequateness.

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