Things I Wish I’d Known: Intentionality

 

I’ve decided to do another series of blog posts like I did about relationships this past fall (Part 1: The One, Part 2: For Men and Part 3: For Women). This series will be about some major character traits I wish I had learned when I was entering my 20s, but no one really taught me in my church, school or home. So during this holiday season, I hope to give you a gift of wisdom that I received through much trial and suffering. Merry Christmas!


About seven years ago, in the period between High School Musical 3 and Frozen, my younger brother was obsessed with all different kinds of musicals and none more so than Wicked, starring Idina Menzel. He took our family to see it live, bought the CD, and made me listen to it for a year straight, to the point where I learned all the songs by osmosis. One of the most catchy tunes is “Dancing Through Life,” a sort of slacker’s manifesto, which I think represents much of our modern-day attitude toward life, work and the idea of trying hard. To summarize, the character who sings this song is saying that “those who don’t try, never look foolish” so just dance through life like you don’t care about anything.

Looking back, it’s this lack of intentionality that I realized marked my life as I entered university. I had grand dreams of changing the world in the areas of education, great hopes for the church of this new generation, but my plan was “I’ll just do what I feel like doing, and it’ll all work out.”

At one level, there’s nothing wrong with that approach to life. Our God is sovereign and powerful, and He created us to enjoy life in relationship with Him and others. He opens doors, leads us and guides. However, Scripture teaches that even with that truth, we shouldn’t be lazy. Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing.” If you desire to achieve something, you need to intentionally pursue it. Things worth getting rarely fall into our laps.

I learned this truth when I started playing badminton. Several friends of mine were just passing 25 and entering that quarter-life crisis where they wanted to get fit. One of them eventually started a badminton club, and after six months, we had about 30 to 50 people showing up every week.

Being younger, I didn’t really care about getting fit, but the idea of beating all my friends at a game was tantalizing (in case you didn’t know, competitive is much too weak a word to describe me). The only problem was that I wasn’t very good, having never played any sport before.

So I intentionally started training. I’d play two to three times a week and dedicate at least 30 minutes each session on running much slower versions of the same drills used by professional clubs and teams. I looked up badminton videos online, asked all the better players to give me tips, and even found a rival to push me to excel.

Within a year, I had moved from being a brand new player to squarely in the upper third. Even I was quite amazed by what had happened — and that’s when I learned a great life lesson.

If you want something in life, whether it be a career, a marriage, a skill or even for people to like you, you need to be intentional about pursuing it. Prioritize, plan and diligently execute. Sow a bit, and you will reap abundantly. Yes, if you try at life, there’s always the chance that you’ll fail and look foolish, but if you don’t try, you’ll never have had any chance of success.

What are some things you want to learn or do? Any thoughts on ways you can be intentional about it?

 

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