Preserve margins in your life. How good would you feel if you always had extra money in your pocket and time in your day? The happiest I ever saw my wife, Cindy, is when we moved from a big house that we could barely afford to a small house we could easily afford. Leave yourself a 20 percent margin in your budget and schedule, and you won’t feel so frantic all the time.
You already know 99 percent of God’s will for your life. Love one another. Treat people with respect. Live with honesty and integrity. This is God’s will for you all the time. When we talk about God’s will, we usually mean the other 1 percent: what job we’ll have, whom we’ll marry, where we’ll live. The exciting stuff. When you focus on the 99 percent, you’ll more clearly see the 1 percent.
Listen to Spirit-filled people around you. When you’re making a major decision, gather around you people you respect, lay out the situation, and humbly receive their counsel.
Give up your dreams. Culture says to sacrifice everything for your dreams. Christ says sacrifice your dreams for everything. Giving up your dreams doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still have dreams and desires. You should. But be careful not to hold too tightly on to your own dreams, because they can become a god. Malachi 1 says interesting thingsa about sacrificing what you most want to hold on to. Sometimes God will give it back, refined in the fire; sometimes He’ll give you something better.
Forgive your parents. Sometimes parents, like King David, feel as if they have lost the right to guide you. But when parents know they’re forgiven, wounds are healed and cycles are broken. Give your parents a new start and watch what happens.
Marriage: Do not settle. The person you’re dating will not suddenly become better when you’re married. If they’re not currently living right, they probably won’t when you’re married. When you find the right person, marriage is absolutely wonderful. You’ll move forward hand in hand with greater joy than you ever thought possible.
Give your future children a gift. Years ago there was an axiom: Sow your wild oats in youth, then settle down when you have kids. But genetics research has revealed something fascinating: the behaviors you’re choosing right now, before you become parents, directly impact the genes you pass onto your children. If you struggle with something such as sexual temptation or overeating, you may carry these struggles the rest of your life. But as preparents, if you do the right thing—even when you don’t feel like it—you may relieve your children of the same struggles, breaking generational cycles and giving them the gift of freedom.
The first step in spiritual renewal is demolition. If you’re not feeling any desire for spiritual things—for prayer, for Bible study, for God—you’re probably too filled up with everything else. The first step in spiritual renewal, says Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, is demolition: clearing things out of our life—bad things, even good things—to make room for the best things.
Andy Nash ([email protected]) is a professor and pastor who leads summer study tours to Israel and Revelation’s seven churches.