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Who We Are Determines What We Do



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This is part two of Structure that Leads to Flourishing—an excerpt series from Ben Stuart’s book Rest & War. Click here to read part one.

Planning helps keep our priorities present in our practices. It reduces stress and it helps us get more done and miss out on fewer opportunities. 

So to begin, we start with our titles. We begin with who we are. Our activity is meant to flow from our identity. Boxers box. Dancers dance. Students study (theoretically). Whatever identity you believe is most fundamental to who you are will determine how you conduct yourself in this world. 

I encourage you to follow an exercise I did with interns when I served as a youth pastor. I gave them titles that were tied to the directives of our ministry—evangelist, counselor, teacher, servant, and worshiper. These five identities became the headings under which every activity of their week was organized. We gave them a piece of paper with these titles listed as headings at the top of the page, and underneath each heading they listed all the tasks they could think of. More than just a long to- do list, it helped them see how the work they were doing tied directly to their reason for being there. 

Then we gave them a second sheet of paper with the seven days of the week broken down into thirty-minute increments. At the beginning of each week, they took their tasks listed under their titles and put them into a specific time of the week. 

What first appeared to them to be a tedious act of calendaring ended up becoming their favorite part of the week! Something about seeing their eternal purposes touch down on specific times of their week filled their souls with something we struggle to define but desperately need: a sense of purpose.

I promise you that when you see the eternal touch the mundane, it will thrill your soul with a sense of meaning. I want that for you. And it starts here. Identifying your titles. Listing your tasks. Organizing

your time. 

I personally do this same practice I taught those interns. In the current season of my life, I am in the role of pastor of a church, so my titles look like this: Teacher. Leader. Administrator. Pastor/Shepherd. 

Then I include a fifth column for Child of God, and under it I place the subheadings Husband, Father, and Steward of our Financial Resources. During my devotional time on Monday mornings or Sunday nights, I fill out these two sheets. 

By strategically planning out my weeks, I’ve discovered I am able to be fully present in every moment. I don’t listen to a friend tell a story while my mind is on the phone calls I need to make. I know I’ll return calls later, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., so in the present moment with my friend, I can be all his. I like having an undivided mind. Jim Elliot said it best: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Scheduling helps me live into this. By giving each task its space, I allow my mind to be fully engaged in whatever moment I am in. This simple rhythm of deciding when tasks will occur in advance brings an enormous sense of relief. There is freedom in this kind of order. There is peace in structure. 

This is where being students and stewards of ourselves becomes so crucial. I’ve realized that I am a more patient and loving dad if I can get up and sit quietly with the Lord before my kids wake up. So that’s what I do every morning.

To keep reading this excerpt from Ben Stuart’s book, Rest + Warclick here for part three and click here to grab a copy of this special resource.

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Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.