Have you ever bought a car that you thought was uncommon, only to then start noticing that every other car on the road is just like yours? Or just learned a new word that you’d never heard before, and then you start hearing it everywhere? Well that is happening to me right now with the word “intentional.” I have of course used this word much of my life, but usually when I hauled off and hit my brother and would then tell Mom, “It wasn’t intentional.”
Today, the meaning of intentional seems to have grown in stature. Suddenly, I am hearing that I should be living intentionally. Be more intentional. Embrace intentionality (is that even a real word?). Set intentionality goals and resolutions. It’s everywhere, and it’s foreign to me.
Today, the meaning of intentional seems to have grown in stature.
How unintentional am I? I majored in physics simply because I liked both science and math and couldn’t choose between them. Then I volunteered at the college theatre because sound and stage lighting stuff was cool (it was the 70s — cool was important then). Neither of those activities were intentional steps toward a future career. Outside of finding my first job out of college, I never looked for another job. Headhunters would call and I’d say yes or no. I never asked for a promotion or raise, but they came at intervals that surprised me. In fact, I once even turned down my boss who wanted to lay out my career path to upper management. The catch was that once you were on the path, no-noes were allowed. Way too intentional for me.
One day, I said yes to a job that switched me from an engineering path to one that relied more on writing and presentation skills just because that was what the company needed, and then I stayed in that job for 25 years. I travelled for work when, where, and for however long was required without an intentional thought about work/life balance. I got involved in computer programming and website work because it looked fun, not for any intentional purpose. My wife and I chose a church because it was in the neighborhood where she worked, and then stuck with it for 20 years despite its lackluster impact on us.
As you can see, my life has been anything but intentional. My motto was more like “I am a leaf on the wind.” (Shout out to you Serenity fans!) So imagine my dismay to suddenly be surrounded by this concept of intentionality in my retirement! Seems like “intentional retirement” is sort of an oxymoron, but even the place I volunteer wants me to be more intentional. And that got me thinking…
While I was running around being all unintentional, maybe Someone was being intentional on my behalf.
While I was running around being all unintentional, maybe Someone was being intentional on my behalf. Somehow, all those things I was seemingly choosing at random from my perspective have come together to equip me for what I now feel called to do. My undeliberate career path was successful enough to allow me to retire early so I can now volunteer almost full time to help in church ministry. And guess what? The needs of some of those ministries closely match my “randomly acquired” abilities in project management, website development, computer programming, stage sound and lighting, writing, editing, presentations, and more. And while the years spent at that other church made my spiritual journey resemble the path the Israelites took through the wilderness, they did force me to individually work through many questions related to faith, science and the Bible, the need for Jesus to die on a cross, and the nature of salvation and sanctification — and that has all been very useful in my recent participation in a class to help non-believers. The more I think about how so many “unplanned” things in my life have now come together to help me do some Kingdom work, the less I believe it is coincidence. And that must mean it was intentional.
So if God has been so intentional with me, I guess maybe I should be more intentional toward Him. Like setting aside specific times for prayer (talking to and listening for Him) and studying His Word. Like setting priorities and goals for both my personal life and volunteer work so these things are in better alignment with His Will. Like making sure I have identified and can then focus on the big-ticket things without letting the little stuff distract me. In that light, maybe intentionality isn’t so awful. Maybe I really can be more intentional about intentionality. I’m now thinking He deserves it and I need it!
So if God has been so intentional with me, I guess maybe I should be more intentional toward Him.
So if you see that Harvey guy (another author on this blog) around, tell him he wins. I’m intentionally all into intentionality now!!