Saturday, April 21, 2012

Competing Agendas?

My work life is full of agendas.  There must be some unwritten rule at my office that if you are going to meet you must have an agenda.  Sometimes, I have received agendas that looked like this:

1. Welcome
2. Meeting Follow Up
3. Adjourn

Really?!  Did we really need an agenda full of white space, some corny clip-art of a person on a mountain-top, and 3 words?  I am sure we could remember to welcome, talk and adjourn without a paper reminder.  I know for sure, I would remember the adjournment part.   Sometimes, just to mix it up a little, someone will add "Roundtable" to the agenda after #2, which basically means you have to sit there and pretend to be interested while each person in the meeting, one by one, gets to share how busy and wonderful they are.  Then, when the slow wave of blabbering makes it way to you and it's your turn to talk, you clear your throat, put down your iphone, and talk about how busy and wonderful YOU are. As you talk, everyone else thinks about where they are going to go for lunch and orders ahead on their ipads.
Sometimes, though, agendas are necessary and do serve a valid purpose.  They help the group understand the purpose of the meeting, what is going to be discussed and what the priorities are going to be for the hour or so the group is together.  An agenda in essence says, "Here is where we are going to focus our energy."  (At least until Lisa Longwind sucks it out of us!)  Agendas also tell the meeting attendees "This is how we are going to spend our time." (Until Manny Monopolizer takes over!)

This got me thinking.

What does my life agenda look like? 


1. Welcome
2. Wants
3. Work
5. Family & Friends
6. God
7. Others

And how does my agenda compare to God's?


1. Welcome (Create All)
2. Send Savior
3. Love All
4. Welcome All

Evidently, there is quite a bit of difference between my agenda and God's.  My agenda is all about me - what I want to do, what I have to do, with whom I will spend my time.  God is a part of my life, but farther down on the agenda than I'd like.  Sometimes #2 & #3 will switch places and some days God moves up the list, but for the most part there is not much movement.  The agenda is a pretty good reflection of where I spend my energy and where I focus my time.  What would your life agenda look like?

God's agenda looks different.  While I don't know his ACTUAL agenda of course (and I am just using "agenda" as a metaphor so I am not implying that God actually needs or has one), it was interesting and enlightening to come up with God's agenda.  One thing I noticed right away is that while my agenda is all about me, God's agenda is all about others.  His focus is on saving, loving and caring for his us.  He wants to welcome all to spend eternity with Him and so he spends his time and energy in both the Old and New Testament trying to reconcile his people to him.  The Creator wants his creation with Him.  We resist because we have our own selfish agendas and are focused on ourselves.  So, he ultimately sends the most valuable gift he can send -  his only Son JESUS, to save us from ourselves and bring us to him.  Our agendas have led us astray - His agenda brings us back where we need to be - with Him. 
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings that God gives us in this world.  He blesses us with people, beauty, talent, nature, laughter, music, family and so much more.  The problem comes when we devote our time and energy to the gifts God gives us, instead of to the GIVER of those gifts.  When we worship the feeling of love, for example, devoting our time and energy to getting it (or giving it) and forget about the One who IS LOVE and created love to begin with, our agendas need shifting.  It's OK to spend time studying and exploring our talents and hobbies, but do we devote at least the same amount of time to studying and exploring the ONE who gave us those talents and passions?  I wish I could say I did.

I wish my agenda looked more like this:


1. Welcome
2. Love God
3. Love Others

You may say this agenda is not possible.  Where is work?  You have to work.  Where is family?  & Friends?  There is nothing wrong with making them a priority, right?
I guess the way I look at it is I want my agenda to be simple.  I only want to put on it what I might forget to make a priority.  I don't want to include anything that I naturally make a priority anyway, like those useless agendas with three words that I get at work sometimes.  Welcome. Talk. Adjourn.  No duh.  In other words, I don't need a Life Agenda with "Work" on it.  That's a given.  Loving God and others? Those slip off the agenda a little easier so I want to make sure it is written down on my paper reminder.

#1 on the Life Agenda = Love God. 
How do I love Him?  I live a life that reflects the Gospel of Jesus. (Philippians 1:27)  I talk to him, listen to him and live like Him.  Easy to say, hard to do.  That is why it needs to be top on the agenda.  As Mark 12:29-30 says, "The most important commandment is this:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might." 

#2 on the Life Agenda = Love Others
If I "Love God" as I should, then He will help me "Love Others" (including my family and friends) as He wants and commands me to...
"Do unto others as you would have done unto you." 
"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31)
"Be kind, tenderhearted toward eachother, forgiving one another..." (Ephesians 4:32)
"...In humility, value others as better than yourself." (Philippians 2:3)
"Honor your father and mother..." (Ephesians 6:2)
"Love is patient, kind...(I Corinthians 13:4-7)
Oh, to be able to love others like this!  Better keep it on the agenda and also in my prayers.

I guess I could add adjournment to the end of my Life Agenda.  But, since I don't know exactly when that will be, I think I'll stay busy with #2 and #3.

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