I'm setting a goal to be more needy. Here's why.
Note: we’re kicking off 2017 with a 5-part series on setting Jesus-centered resolutions. Find more about the series, including a free downloadable goal-setting bundle, plus articles you may have missed, here.
Always an overachiever, I bought a day planner in October to get a head start on goal-setting for the new year. I’m normally not a goal person, but lately I’ve been feeling like I could use some extra focus.
This particular planner recommends that I plan out my whole day. Starting at 6M to 9PM, I’m encouraged to fill in every block of time with an intentional focus.
Admittedly this is a helpful approach to the day. Though seemingly intense, it doesn’t say every scheduled block of time has to be productive time. I can write in “vegetate like a sloth” from 5PM to 7PM every day of the week if I want. The purpose is not to make me into a robot, but to get me to think intentionally about how I’m using my time so that I’m directing my hours instead of someone else directing them for me.
This is all fine and well except for one thing: don’t I sorta want Jesus directing my hours instead of me? Don’t I want to be dependent on him rather than on myself? In theory, the answer is yes.
Reader, I’m convinced that this type of dependency on Jesus is so counter-cultural that we don’t even know what it looks like.
I know I’m still struggling to grasp it. I’m consistently drawn to control and self-sufficiency, and because I’m fairly good at both, my patterns are reinforced.
It wasn’t always so. Not too long ago my life was a hot mess. I was on the verge of financial ruin with a mountain of debt. My marriage was on the rocks. I’d get stressed just going to the grocery store to buy food. During this season I was dependent on Jesus every day. And it was spiritually rewarding…but not so much fun, thanks.
Fortunately Jesus gradually lifted me out of that season and I prefer not to go back. I do, however, want to remember something that Rick Lawrence wrote about in The Jesus-Centered Life, which is that in order to really know Jesus, we must need him.
If you’re like me, neediness is uncomfortable.
Helpfully, Rick shares some ideas for how we can cultivate dependency on Jesus in our lives, including:
How to be needy (aka how to cultivate dependency on Jesus)
- Start with a doable challenge by choosing a small risk. Ensuring some level of success early on helps us learn to trust Jesus for bigger things.
- Look to Jesus to set specific boundaries for our risk. Jesus, for instance, gave the disciples four things to focus on: healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing leprosy, and casting out demons.
- Trust Jesus to meet your needs along the way, and stretch yourself by giving generously. Those who trust much give much; those who are captive to fear hold onto what they have and guard it. Gifts of generosity are acts of worship, so challenge yourself to give outside of your comfort zone.
- Accept the trust Jesus has invested in you by exercising your gifts.
- Remember that dependence means that you look to Jesus as the source of your good impact, and that any power you experience when depending on him is from him (in other words, don’t get too impressed with yourself).
In practice, I’ve been experimenting in small ways with these suggestions. For instance, I’ve taken driving detours without a map and let Jesus navigate. I’ve challenged myself to give more freely, especially when it makes me uncomfortable. And I’ve been stretching myself to use my gifts of writing and creating more intentionally for his purposes even though it increases my exposure to rejection. These efforts are both hard and exhilarating at the same time (and I’m miles away from doing things like healing people and raising the dead!), but they all have one thing in common, which is that they encourage me to need Jesus more.
One little thing to try...
One final thing I’ve started doing relates back to my planner: I’ve started blocking off chunks of time and labeling them “Jesus, you lead” (literally I write these words into my planner). During these times (usually during my workday) I bring no agenda but to listen and see where he leads. Maybe you could try it, too, and then tell me what happens? Let’s cultivate more dependency on Jesus together.
Related, listen to Rick and Becky talk about starting a new season with Jesus.