Over the course of the week it seemed all of the students had contacted Joseph about the difference between the values of week one and the non-negotiable of week 2. Four times in different ways Joseph shared this mind exercise.
Imagine that you are the captain on a vessel. You have a strong value for human life. Hidden on board are several children who are Jewish and it is 1936. The German navy boards your ship knowing that you have historically been a smuggler. You also have a value of honesty. Which one of these two values wins out for you? This is the difference.
Julie had drawn beautiful pictures and clever words to capture what she was thinking throughout project one. She actually enjoyed adding color and the lack of structure really spoke to her. Where she struggled was coming up with a phrase to bring it all together. Ultimately her statement included using art to help those who were hurting.
Sam was very structured and wrote out long answers and was very focused on this. But he too struggled with putting it all into words. He needed the creative side of human nature and was lacking the ability. The day before the next gathering he actually called Julie and asked her to have coffee with him so she could help him word what he was trying to say. They had a great time and Sam was able to help her put some structure to her wording as well.
Eric did not even really begin the work until an hour before the group was to meet. All week he was distracted and confused. He liked to relax and enjoy life. Most days he felt guilty that he was doing so little. At church last Sunday the minister talked about the Grace of God and that God’s grace covers over a multitude of sins. Eric figured that laziness was a sin and God could do the work for him. When he presented his personal constitution to Joseph he noticed the disappointment in his eyes. Joseph tried to play it down by saying they would talk later in the week.
Sarah had an incredible but impossible ethos statement. Of course, if she never slept and ate on the move, she could pull it all off. Maybe if God blessed her with some superhuman powers she would do the miraculous. Joseph knew that he would have to help her to home in on the essence of what God would want for her.
A few hours before the gathering, Joseph sat quietly dreaming of his ultimate future. In the dream he was walking with his wife toward an incredible venue. At this point the vision was only about 20 years away and he has come a very long way on this heroic quest that he developed so long ago. In the vision it is a beautiful day. The air is cool and fresh, and his bride is looking incredible. He is walking in his military dress blues. Their hands are intertwined as they walk toward the double doors. Gently he pulls the door open and ushers her inside. There they are greeted by room full of people. The faces are familiar. As they walk through the crowd each face comes with a distinct memory. His mind is sharp even though he is almost 75 years old. While the crowd is very encouraging there are three faces that he is looking for above all others. Suddenly he sees them. His children are moving toward him. Tears fill his eyes as he sees them with their families. All three are living God honoring lives and have put together this party to honor their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. The date is May 17, 2047. Joseph and his bride are led to the head table and they sit surrounded by love and applause. Stories of lives impacted and how the world is different because of this couple are filling the room.
When it is time to eat, they are called upon to go through the line first. The menu he knows matches the buffet lines that he had enjoyed at weddings as a child. His mouth waters as he can almost taste the food as well as the memories of childhood joys. When the meal is complete, he is dancing with his wife. Polkas and laughter envelop the room. Soon the evening is ending and they return to this home. This home that is paid off and in great shape is powered entirely off the grid.
The dream comforts him as he prepares for the evening ahead. Truth be told he walks through this vision often. It keeps him on track. Some moments when temptation comes his way, he knows that a misstep could wipe away the dream. He has eaten right and exercised so that he will be in the best possible shape to dance with his much younger wife.
Tonight, Joseph will share his life vision with the class and encourage them to do the same.
All four students were present and ready to go on time this week. Joseph had talked with Sarah about her tardiness and how disrespectful that he thought that was. He was gentle but strong. Eric was there actually wearing nice slacks and a button-down shirt. His face was fresh and clean. He looked ready for an interview. Joseph had talked with him during the week during a discussion on values. Eric had said that he wanted to take on the behaviors like the professional that he dreamed of becoming. Joseph encouraged him to dress like his dream was already coming true. Sam was there with a notebook ready to do his part. He still had not put together an accountability team but had some ideas of people to talk to. Julie also did not really have a very solid list of prospects. But she knew one person that she would talk to this week that might be able to help her more than most.
“Last week we talked about knowing yourself. Some of you have discovered that you really don’t know much about who you are.”
Joseph looked around but did not allow his eyes to sit on any one person. Tonight, we will begin exploring where you are going.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11
“Now I know that each of you have differing views on God. But I must share with you up front that I feel deeply that God has a plan for each of our lives. What we will put together this week is not really something that you will or even can create. What you will construct is a vision, God’s vision for your life. We will begin exploring this vision and then use it to shape the direction of our lives. As we create the vision, we will capture the heart of God.”
Sam stopped writing and asked, “I like that. But how do we know that the vision that we create is from God. Our own imaginations can be pretty powerful.”
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5
“That is true. Our own ambitions and desires often get in the way of who we really need to become. God created us for a purpose. While I might be given a glimpse of His vision for the lives of my family or even my students; only you and God will know the truth. That is why it is so important to know yourself. Examine yourself and be totally honest. Have others speak into your life. He speaks through other people and of course His Word. Circumstances can also awaken his vision for you as well. Also, as you create the story that tells of your future life, understand that God may withhold some portions of the dream from you for now. Later, when you have grown and matured, He will share more.”
Joseph then shared the vision for his life. Throughout the telling of the story he paused to point out the critical nature of some of the details. Throughout the vision he was envisioning who he was physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. -Luke 2:52
“Also notice as I told the story I attempted to include all of my senses. The more real that you make the vision, the more likely you are to live your life in such a way to fulfill it.”
Julie coughed as a way of breaking in and interrupting.
“If this is God’s plan than do, we really need to do anything to make it happen. I mean in theory I can simply believe, and it will come true in His timing.”
“On one level you are correct. But that is not really the way that it works. You see God gives us the vision and the privilege of working to make it come to pass. While it appears that we are creating a destination, the truth is that really what we are creating is a journey filled with fun and adventure. We know that in the end the good guys win, but the fun is in seeing how we get there.”
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. –James 2:17
“One year I moved my family from the state of Washington to Oklahoma. Consider that Washington was me knowing myself. While living in the Northwest, God showed me much about who He was and who I was. He worked with me and developed me. When the time was right, He called me to move. That is the lesson from last week. Now I am asking you to develop a picture of what Oklahoma looks like. Where is your destination that you are going to take your moving truck and all your belongings to?
Something else that is significant is that along the way there were road signs. These were often helpful. By seeing the signs, I knew if I was on track or not. If I looked up and the sign said welcome to New York I would have realized that I had missed a turn somewhere. Once you complete the story of your ultimate life it is critical that you take some time to make some road signs so that you know if you are heading the right way or not. I suggest looking at your life three years from now as well as one year from now. Again, the more realistic and the more senses that you incorporate into your story the more likely it is to come true.”
There was much discussion and stories told of moving experiences. Soon the laughter died out and all the students went home to begin capturing their dreams.
Week 3 Worksheet
Project 1: Write out the story of your ultimate dream for your life. Make sure to include elements from your whole self, Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Social, Professional, Housing, Parenting. While still being somewhat realistic, do not hold yourself back. Dream big. Include all of your senses and work to experience as much of the story as possible.
Project 2: Do the same as project 1 but now look just 3 years into the future and create a second story there with the same criteria. Make sure that this story is leading you toward the ultimate dream of your life. Put dates and times to some parts of the story.
Project 3: Do the same as project 2 but now look just one year into the future. Make sure to consider how the dream a year from now feeds into your dream for five years from now. For example, if you want to graduate college with a four-year degree on your five-year plan. Then part of the picture in your one-year plan would be to include research and exploration toward that dream of college.
Project 4: Review at least a portion of your values list every day this week and journal how you are doing.
Project 5: Officially create a little team to help hold you accountable to your values this week.