Saturday, August 21, 2010

30 Days of Getting Organized:

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

I am not one of those people whom organizing experts call "born organized". The truly organized stay organized through the ups and downs of life. I, however, let life get me off track, so I need periodic times of organizing myself and my life.

In one sense, we can never fully organize life. Part of being like Jesus is being open to God's will in the moment. We can plan our days all that we want, but we must also be willing to stop and take care of the need of the moment. If we are too regimented in our organization and daily routines, we will miss opportunities to serve, as well as unexpected opportunities to enjoy life and the people we love.

We need to remember Jesus, who, on his way to raise a little girl from the dead, stopped to meet the need of a woman who had been bleeding for many years. Then, he went on and gave the girl her life again. Wherever Jesus went, crowds followed, every person of which had great need. How did Jesus meet interruptions with poise? I personally think it was because he ordered his life on earth by one foundational principle: He came to us in the flesh to seek and save the lost and to bring glory to the Father. To do the Father's will, he tells us in the book of John, is his food and drink. Because he had a unifying principle, he knew when to stop and when to move on to his larger goal. What might have looked like a chaotic situation to others was fully in Jesus control. His unifying principles and his ultimate faith in the Father gave him peace and order and poise in every situation.

Often, we organize for the wrong reason -- or, at least I do. I get serious about organizing when I feel that my life is or has recently been beyond my control. Then, I start organizing in an attempt to make life go more smoothly, safely, and comfortably. In and of themselves, there's nothing wrong with those goals. In fact, they are nice by-products of organization.

However, I can take it too far and want to take control, rather than surrendering to God's control. When we take this too far, it can lead to anxiety, because we will never be able to order our days just the way we envision. There will always be the unexpected in life -- either in terms of challenges or surprise joys.

Likewise, the wrong motivation for organizing ourselves and our homes and our lives can cause us to start trying to organize other people in an attempt to protect our ordered world. When we are too push about this, we cause strife in relationships, as well as a feeling of uneasiness in ourselves when we can't make people fit into our agenda. If we have children in our home, it is our job to help them become organized adults, and, along the way, we will have to do some organizing for them. However, once people are adults, we cannot and should not expect that their lives will always fit neatly into our own day planner.

So, why be organized then? Here are just a few reasons I think about:

1) God is a God of order and beauty, and we are made to reflect his image.
2) We are stewards of the things God has given us: life, family, home, eternal life, the gospel, etc. In order to be the best stewards possible, we need to lead thoughtful and organized lives.
3) Being ordered does help us fulfill our responsibilities more easily.
4) Being ordered does add peace to our family, to our households, and to us. It reduces stress.
5) Being ordered allows us to take care of the daily necessities of life and also to focus on the big picture.
6) If we are organized by principle and habit, our lives will likely be better able to handle the unexpected. For example, the woman whose house is generally neat and clutter-free can take an afternoon or two to help a relative with a new baby and not get completely thrown off track. She can easily put the little surface disorder that accumulates during those two days to rights. The woman whose house is a deep mess will only fall that much further behind when she takes time to help someone. She will find it harder to set to rights any disorder that has accumulated atop the general mess of her home.
7) If we keep our homes in order, God's word will not be blasphemed. Titus 2. People are drawn to a home which is basically ordered and peaceful, but they are not drawn to chaos.

Whether you are born organized, or, if like me, you have to work hard to keep things in order, come alone with me as I explore this topic for the next thirty posts. We'll be looking at organization from the heart, as well as following practical exercises.

Today's exercise:

1) Where are you on the scale from being too inflexible with your scheduling and organization to being too lackadaisical? Where do you think the right balance is? Spend some time thinking or even writing about that.
2) Where is your Bible and a notebook and a pen? Do you have a set ready to carry with you when you need to? Do you have quiet time materials in one place in your home so that you can read and pray? Set up a space for your quiet times with God and also fill a bag with spiritual materials to take with you to church, a study, on a trip, etc.

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