Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living
by Alex Crain, Crosswalk.com Contributor
The phrase, "begin with the end in mind" will be familiar to anyone who has read the life management book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. But if you aren't familiar with the phrase or the book, the general idea of "begin with the end in mind" is fairly straightforward.
Simply stated, before beginning any project, you should always ask the question "How do I want this to turn out?" Otherwise, you may end up climbing a ladder, but not find success because your ladder is leaning on the wrong wall.
While the advice in Covey's book can help sharpen focus and cultivate good work habits, something that's missing from the book is the God-sized perspective on life that we see in Psalm 92.
Stephen Covey invites his readers to the pathway of success by beginning with their own desires. In other words, "Imagine life as you want it to be." Naturally, the ideal life for most people is one surrounded by beauty, expensive things, favorite people, etc. We want plenty of leisure time and the health to enjoy these things. But without God, such a life is depicted in Scripture as empty and deceptive. It is a dream that springs from a heart tainted by sin. Frustration and disappointment results when our primary source of motivation is the self.
If we are to be truly effective at living, we must humbly begin with God's end in mind.
Psalm 92 paints a picture of the ideal life as that of a righteous person who bears good fruit, even to old age. He is "full of sap and very green." In other words, he is filled with spiritual vitality at the end of life when the temptation to grumble and express radical selfishness is often the strongest.
The roots for a strong, 'sap-filled' soul are found in Psalm 92. Here, the seven habits of truly effective living are unfolded for us:
#1 Seeing thankfulness and praise to God as something desirable, not as a duty (Psalms 92:1). Far from complaining, his lips are filled with praise—declaring that there is no unrighteousness in God, his Rock (Psalms 92:1).
#2 Focusing on God's lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness at night
(Psalms 92:1). For the righteous man, each day begins and ends with God. God is central in his thoughts throughout the entire day. 'Lovingkindness' refers to God's covenant loyal love, which assures salvation for His people.
The righteous person is not self-righteous. Rather, he looks to God's promises as the basis for his right standing before his Creator-Judge. Christ fulfilled these promises and delivers from a life of vain pursuits all who trust Him.
#3 Enjoying resounding music and singing for joy at God's great works (Psalms 92:1).
"You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands."
#4 Pondering the deep thoughts of God (Psalms 92:1)—not being characterized by a shallow, pragmatic view of God that sees Him merely as a means to get other things.
#5 Praising the transcendence of God—declaring that God is the "Most High" who is above all His creatures. The righteous one realizes that man is in no way equal to God. Thus, he can never legitimately view God with suspicion or call Him into judgment (Psalms 92:1).
#6 Resting securely in the fact that, in the end, God will have the final say on all matters. He will deal justice to the enemies of righteousness (Psalms 92:1).
#7 Depending continuously upon God for strength—for "fresh oil" (Psalms 92:1), knowing that yesterday's supply never carries over to today.
Perhaps you know an older believer who embodies these seven habits. My own 'eighty-something' grandmother is one such saint. We affectionately call her "Meme." Not long ago, Meme lay in a hospital bed with a serious health situation. I called her on the phone expecting to cheer her up, but she was the one who brought cheer to me.
Instead of complaining about her pain, she spoke with delight about truths she had just read that morning in her well-worn Bible. She told me of the various hymns and spiritual songs had been going through her mind throughout the day. She took time to ask me about my family and how things were going in ministry at our local church.
Her prayer at the close of our conversation was full of gratitude and praise to the Lord. The tone of her voice showed a deep awareness of God's presence right there with her. While I listened, I thought: This is Psalm 92 in action—here is someone who, throughout her life by God's grace, has learned and is still practicing the seven habits of truly effective living.
Intersecting Faith & Life: If these seven habits aren't part of your daily life, why not pause right now and ask God to make them so?