Give cheerfully. Rather than tithing to your church and donating to charities out of a sense of duty, do so cheerfully by identifying specific needs that your financial support will help meet and enjoying the satisfaction that comes from being a vital part of solving problems and growing into a more generous and loving person.

Devote one day per week to genuine rest. Celebrate the Sabbath day as the gift from God that it is by doing only activities that you find relaxing and enjoyable during that one day each week. As you do, savor God’s presence with you and enjoy His company.

Find creative ways to love the difficult people in your life. It doesn’t need to be a chore to obey God’s command to love the people you know who seem hard to love – from siblings who compete with you to enemies who have hurt you. You can choose to act in love toward everyone you know, even when you don’t feel love toward them. God will help you to treat people with respect and kindness, and to forgive them while setting healthy boundaries. In the process, you’ll come to enjoy your relationships with others more.

Carefully consider whether or not to take on new responsibilities. Don’t automatically say “yes” to a new responsibility simply because there’s a need for someone to do it and someone asks you to meet that need. If you take on a responsibility without considering it carefully, it could lead to stress, failure, and guilt rather than good results. Think and pray carefully about each potential new responsibility, considering whether or not it is really worth your attention and effort during this season of your life.

Choose mercy over sacrifice. Rather than trying to please God by making sacrifices (such as avoiding a guilty pleasure), focus on loving God back by letting His love flow through you and out into the world, bringing mercy to people who need to experience it. Then you can express your love naturally without trying to force it.

Choose excellence over perfection. You set yourself up to fail when you try to be perfect to please God, because in this fallen world, every human being is tainted by sin and falls short of perfection. But if you shift your focus from perfection to excellence, you can actually accomplish excellent work for God – all while enjoying the confidence of knowing that God loves you unconditionally.

Enjoy living in the present. Treat every day that you’re alive like the gift from God that it is, and revel in the moments God offers you to enjoy the blessings He constantly pours into your life – from food and friends, to the joy you can find through experiencing God’s ongoing presence with you.

Adapted from The Easy Burden of Pleasing God, copyright 2013 by Patty Kirk. Published by IVP Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., http://www.ivpress.com/books/.

Patty Kirk is writer in residence and associate professor of English at John Brown University. She is an award-winning writer and author of Confessions of an Amateur Believer and Starting from Scratch: A Wandering Cook in Search of Home. is writer in residence and associate professor of English at John Brown University.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.  

Publication date: May 21, 2013