An intention means an “aim or a plan”. Add ‘ally’ to the end of the word to make it an adverb and the definition changes “to deliberately or on purpose”.
God has a plan/purpose (aka “intention”) for all of our lives (Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”). Figuring out what that purpose or plan is may not be an easy task, but His plans for us unfold over time and in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”). At the end of this post, you will find that there is one common purpose He has for all of us (Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”).
As far as my specific purpose goes, I can only see so far…meaning from one minute to the next (LOL). That’s true for all of us! I do know that God has always wanted me to be an agriculture teacher and to impact lives in and out of the classroom. This was made clear to me during my freshman year of high school. When I began college, I had the goal of becoming an agriculture teacher in mind because I recognized the need for them and personally had agriculture teachers that changed my life and pushed me. Because of the difference they made in my life, I was inspired to do the same. But see, beyond that, I saw hurting students. I saw students who were longing to be loved because they didn’t get attention at home. I saw students working night shifts falling asleep in class because they were trying to pay their families’ bills. I saw students losing parents and loved ones, some of those being friends of mine. My eyes were opened to not only the statistical shortage of agriculture teachers across the nation and state but the shortage of just GOOD teachers. I stepped into agricultural education with my intentions being that I could shed a light in someone’s life…that I could possibly help change their perspective, attitude, behavior, and even their current direction of their life to a more positive direction.
My intentions are still the same now that I’m graduated and have one year of teaching under my belt. I didn’t truly live intentionally though.
I can see what you’re thinking…. “Emily, it sounds like you have done what you were supposed to do. You’ve become an ag teacher now. This seems like you ARE living intentionally.”
Yeah, that’s what I thought too until during the first year of teaching, my vision became clouded. I kept focusing on problems, on negativity. I was looking at what was wrong in my classroom and what I was doing wrong instead of cheering myself on for what I was doing right. I was very critical of myself. I knew that I could be better. I knew that I wasn’t the best teacher, and because I was telling myself this and feeling this way, I was draining myself emotionally.
I noticed that from the beginning to the end I went from caring and loving on the students to solely stressing over lessons and how awesome they were going to be. There’s nothing wrong with having amazing lessons that engage the students. It shows them that you do care for them because you want them to learn in a fun way and be successful. But I wasn’t asking them the important questions, “How are you doing today?” “How are you feeling?” “Is there something wrong?” “Is there something you would like to talk to me about?”
I was forgetting to make connections. I was forgetting to make personal relationships with them. I was trying too hard to have GOOD-AWESOME lessons because in the midst of creating the lessons and gathering materials I was losing my personal touch with the students. I cared more about what my evaluation score was going to be at the end of the year.
And I hate that it happened.
You’ve noticed by now that even though my intentions were the same, the actions said otherwise. My actions spoke loudly of my intentions being more focused on LESSONS than connecting to and establishing relationships with STUDENTS. Ehhh.
You can have all the right and perfect intentions for whatever it is that you desire in your heart. It’s the ACTIONS that follow the INTENTIONS that make the difference.
For example, if a guy stops by a flower shop and buys a fresh bouquet of roses on the way to pick up a girl for their first date (the action), he’s showing his intentions to her. He is communicating to her that he thought about her before their date, is excited for their date together, or he would like for her to think about him after their date is over and be reminded of it. Sweet, right? His actions are displaying his intentions.
Intentional living has not only been something that God has made clearer to me through teaching but also in my daily life. I am learning to put down my phone to have quality conversations with people. When was the last time you left your phone in your pocket or purse while on a date or at a family function? I encourage you to begin this habit. Leaving the phone behind says that you are making time for the people in front of you instead of the people behind a screen. I am very much the girl who loves to take pictures of everything and share them (I mean, I do have this blog…haha). But even so, God has been nudging me to savor more moments with the people present in my life, to leave my phone behind, and to use it as a tool for Him. How can God teach you things if you’re always stuck in another technological world? He uses the people there with you to teach and direct you or places them there for you to minister to them. Don’t pass up these opportunities on account of looking for comfort and avoiding awkward moments by staring into your phone.
Yes, I still take pictures. Yes, I use my phone to text and call people. Yes, I use my phone for social media. However, God has convicted me to be more careful about when to pull out my phone and when to pick it up. Managing your screen time correctly can lead to living a life more intentionally.
Intentionally praying is another area that God has been placing on my heart. There have been countless times in my life when I’ve prayed quickly to begin eating the plate of food set before me. I would say the prayer to simply get it over with, so I could eat my food. I don’t think I’m the only one guilty here! My intentions were to rush through my prayer and say about three sentences to eat my food because I was hungry. God wants more than that from me, from us. He wants to know what’s on your heart, the things you’re struggling with, the sick and lost people in your life, your relationship and friendship troubles, your big decisions, and the simple small stuff that you may think He may not care about to help you with.
Living intentionally can look different for everyone since we all have our own unique gifts and purpose that God has given us. No matter what living intentionally looks like specifically for you, we are all united towards accomplishing the ultimate intention that God has for us: to do everything for the glory of God and share Christ with others (1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do al to the glory of God.”).
Let’s put forth the actions to match our intentions.
Here are some questions that you can reflect on:
What does living intentionally mean to you?
What is your calling from God or what do you think God is calling you to do?
How can God use your gifts to bring glory to Him?
What are some ways that your actions may not have communicated your intentions well?
What steps are you willing to take to live more intentionally?