Listen to this post
A word for life
Each January, my wife and I discuss our plans and establish clear goals. This year I decided to take that a step further and define our focus for the year in one word. Defining your outlook for the year in one word can help guide your spiritual and natural decisions. It keeps you focused.
Our word is Maximize which Merriam-Webster defines as “to make the most of.” What a great lesson! Make the most of every day. Make the most of the relationships in your life. Make the most of the body God has given you, nurturing it. Make the most of the earth that He has created by not being wasteful or abusing it.
Jesus taught us that He came to bring abundant life. Without a doubt He was speaking of the Holy Spirit giving richness of life to those who would receive It. But Christ is also speaking of our natural life as the entire scope of Scripture proves. In other words, these few days that we have upon the earth are to be rich in meaning and purpose.
Maximize was first used in colloquial English in 1802. Note that it’s a verb which means you have to do something. The goal is to maximize the value of each day. To strengthen relationships while increasing our physical and spiritual well-being.
Making the most of something means understanding what can be accomplished and focusing on that aspect. While we all make hundreds of choices each day, our choices are often emotional instead of focused on what should be done.
For example, this morning I was really tempted to hit the snooze button on the alarm but that would have cut into my morning workout and prayer time. So, I rolled out of bed on time and made it happen.
Maximizing vs productivity
There’s a difference between maximizing your day and being productive. The world stresses productivity which often leads to full days and empty lives. Christ urges us to abundant living. Life lived to the full, regardless of our income or social standing.
Productivity is simply checking boxes off a never-ending to-do list but maximizing your life means drawing the full potential from each moment.
Jesus calls us to an abundant life. Here are five steps to achieving this:
- Start your day with worship. In prayer, reflect on God’s goodness and keep praising Him until you feel positive.
- Get a morning workout in. Getting moving in the morning will get endorphins (happy hormones) flowing, help you combat stress, and reduce depression.
- Pause in the busyness of the day to connect with the Lord, friends, or family.
- Integrate upbeat God-pleasing music into your day. Music shapes our moods and outlook. It affects your emotions which impact your decisions. Keep it moving. Paul taught us to sing and make music throughout the day for a reason.
- At day’s end, reflect on the blessings and challenges of the day. How did you handle them? What could have been done better? Perfection isn’t possible in this life but we should strive constantly to improve.
In the end, the goal is to have a rich experience that leaves you feeling fulfilled. This is true whether we’re talking about relationships or daily tasks.
Maximize your choices
Maximizing life means making hard decisions. Which opportunities to pursue and which ones to pass up. Telling ourselves “no” when we’d really like to say an enthusiastic “yes.” You cannot have all things.
Jesus gives a parable in Luke’s gospel chapter 13. A landowner has a tree that hasn’t born fruit despite several years of fertilization. He approaches the gardener and tells him to remove the fruitless tree because it’s “burdening the ground.” In other words, it’s taking precious resources from the earth without giving anything back. The gardener pleads successfully for one more year.
While this parable has many spiritual applications, it’s also a good reminder that we must maximize each aspect of our lives. Remove the parts of life that aren’t producing positive results. You might need to distance yourself from an emotionally toxic environment. Or cut out whatever keeps you from becoming the best that you can be.
Can you ever really know if you’re truly living each moment to the fullest?
Not exactly. Life often doesn’t have simple to its most important questions. God allows us to live with questions so we can pursue Him for the answers we need. But life’s beauty is contained in the journey. In the efforts we make to improve ourselves and the world around us.
It’s natural to think about maximizing opportunities but it’s also important to make the most out of problems. Negative situations are teachable moments. Moments where God either wants to reveal Himself in a new way or spotlight something in our life that is keeping us from abundant living, even though we don’t always feel like it at the time.
These moments of soul-searching will lead you to a better understanding of yourself and how to maximize both opportunities and problems so you too can have life abundantly.
Choose one action step listed above and implement it faithfully for 14 days. How do you feel?
Proverbs 27:19: “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
James 1:12: “”Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”